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PROTECTING AND ENHANCING YOUR VISION WITH LENS COATINGS

From the early days of purely glass lenses to the advanced materials we use now, the technology in prescription lenses is constantly improving.

Lens coatings can enhance the durability, performance and appearance of your eyeglass lenses. This is true whether you wear single vision, bifocal or progressive lenses.

Today, special lens coatings improve and protect our vision in ways we could only dream of before.

If you are thinking about purchasing new eyeglasses, here are lens coatings and treatments you should consider.

Anti-reflective Coating Eliminates Lens Reflections

Anti-reflective coating (also called AR coating or anti-glare coating) is a microscopically thin multilayer coating that eliminates reflections from the front and back surface of eyeglass lenses.

By doing so, AR coating makes your lenses nearly invisible so people can focus on your eyes, not distracting reflections from your eyeglasses.

Have you ever noticed a bright glare on a window pane or reflective surface? If present on your eyeglass lenses, reflected light can be both a distraction and a potentially dangerous obstruction to your vision. Anti-reflective coating can applied to block reflections from both the front and the rear surface of your lenses. With these reflections gone, you’ll be able to see more clearly and your lenses will look nearly invisible, allowing everyone to see your beautiful eyes!

With reflections eliminated, lenses with AR coating provide better vision for night driving and more comfortable vision for reading and computer use.

Some lens materials are manufactured with anti-reflective coating by default, while others must be applied afterward.

Also Antireflective coatings have not only be made to block reflections, they also help to eliminate the 5 enemies of clear vision which are:

  • Glare which causes Eyestrain
  • Smudge which causes Light diffusion
  • Scratch which causes visual discomfort
  • Dust which causes blur
  • Water which causes distortion

Advanced Technology Protects Lenses From Scratches

Nothing is scratch-proof, but there are coatings to help make lenses more resistant to scratching. Lenses can be treated with a scratch-resistant coating to protect them from scuffs caused by all of life’s little mishaps. Children may especially benefit from such coatings as they are prone to accidents.

Even if your lenses have scratch-resistant coating, always be sure to maintain proper care for your glasses. Be sure to store them in a cushioned case when not in use, and always clean them with a microfiber cloth and a cleaning solution recommended by your Doctor.

UV Protection Isn’t Just For Sunglasses

We all understand how important UV protection is for our sunglasses, but this protection is just as important for our everyday lenses. Prolonged UV exposure can lead to a condition called photokeratitis—a sunburn on the eyes often called snow blindness— or have more serious consequences to our vision health including macular degeneration, retinal damage, or cataracts.

Many modern lenses are built with UV protection, but others require an additional coating to ensure 100 percent of UV rays are blocked.

Blue light emitted from the sun and electronic devices such as smartphones and computer screens also pose a threat to our vision health. Looking at screens for an extensive period of time can result in digital eye strain, causing vision fatigue and sometimes annoyances like eye twitching or red eyes.

While there are a number of things you can do to gain relief from digital eye strain, lenses are available that reduce the eye’s exposure to blue light. If you look at screens extensively for work or personal use, ask your optometrist if these lenses are right for you.

See Clearly With Your New Lenses

If you wear glasses, your lenses are the window to your world. We provide our patients with the latest in eyeglass lens technology to suit their unique vision health needs. If you have any questions about which lens coatings may benefit your vision, let us know! We’d love to help you find the lenses that are right for you.

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UV LIGHT AND THE EYES

The sun supports life on our planet, but its life-giving rays also pose dangers. The sun’s primary danger is in the form of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Artificial sources include tanning booths, black lights, germicidal lamps, mercury vapor lamps, halogen lights, high-intensity discharge lamps, fluorescent and incandescent sources, and some types of lasers.

UV is invisible light from the light spectrum and so cannot be seen and exposure occurs even when we are not in the sun. Most people are aware of how harmful UV radiation is to the skin. However, many may not realize that UV radiation can harm the eyes, and other components of solar radiation can also affect vision.

There are three types of UV radiation:

  1. UV-C: This is absorbed by the ozone layer and does not present any threat.
  2. UV-B: These are partially filtered by the ozone layer, and in low doses stimulates the production of a skin pigment (melanin), which gives you a suntan. In higher doses, UVB will cause the skin to burn, which can increase the chances of skin cancer. UVB radiation can also cause signs of premature aging of the skin, such as wrinkles, as well as skin discolourations. Your eyelids can often be at risk of UVB exposure, especially if sun cream has not been applied and many creams recommend against application around the eyes, putting you at greater risk.
  3. UV-A: These rays are very close to a visible light ray and emits lower energy than both UVB and UVC rays. Though UVA rays are mostly harmless to skin, they can pass through the cornea of your eye and reach the lens and retina causing cataract and macular degeneration (This is an incurable condition that causes blurred vision in the center of the visual field).

If your eyes are exposed to excessive amounts of UV radiation over a short period of time, you will likely experience photokeratitis. Like a “sunburn of the eye,” photokeratitis can be painful. Its symptoms include red eyes, a foreign body sensation or gritty feeling in the eyes, extreme sensitivity to light and excessive tearing. Fortunately, these symptoms are usually temporary and rarely cause permanent damage to the eyes.

The longer the eyes are exposed to solar radiation, the greater the risk of developing early onset of cataracts or macular degeneration.

To provide adequate protection for your eyes, sunglasses should:

  • block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation.
  • have lenses that are perfectly matched in color and free of distortion and imperfection; and
  • have lenses that are gray for proper color recognition.
  • Prescription lenses should have UV protection e.g Transitions or Crizal coatings
  • Ensure you buy contact lenses with UV protection.
  • If you spend a lot of time outdoors in bright sunlight, consider wearing wraparound frames for additional protection from the harmful solar radiation.
  • Don’t forget protection for older citizens, children and teenagers. They typically spend more time in the sun than adults!
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ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BLUE LIGHT

ABOUT THE LIGHT SPECTRUM

Light is made up of electromagnetic particles that travel in waves.  These waves emit energy, and range in length and strength. The shorter the wavelength; the higher the energy. The length of the waves is measured in nanometers (nm), with 1 nanometer equaling 1 billionth of a meter.  Every wavelength is represented by a different colour, and is grouped into the following categories: gamma rays, x-rays, ultraviolet (UV) rays, visible light, infrared light, and radio waves.  Together these wavelengths make up the electromagnetic spectrum.

However the human eye is sensitive to only one part of this spectrum: visible light. Visible light is that part of the electromagnetic spectrum that is seen as colours: violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange and red.  Blue light (blue, indigo and violet part of the visible light spectrum) has a very short wavelength of approximately 380-500nm thereby making it one of the shortest high energy wavelengths. Blue light is divided into two:

  1. Blue –Turquoise Light (Beneficial Blue Light)
  2. Blue –Violet Light (Harmful Blue Light)

WHERE  IS BLUE LIGHT FOUND?

Blue light is actually everywhere. When outside, light from the sun travels through the atmosphere. The shorter, high energy blue wavelengths collide with the air molecules causing blue light to scatter everywhere.  This is what makes the sky and sea look blue.

Sources of blue light include the following:

  1. Sunlight – the major source
  2. Fluorescent lamps
  3. LED devices
  4. Computer Screens
  5. Laptops
  6. Smartphones
  7. E-readers
  8. Tablets

WHY SHOULD WE BE CONCERNED ABOUT BLUE LIGHT EXPOSURE?

Blue light waves are the among the shortest, highest energy wavelengths in the visible light spectrum.  Because they are shorter, these “Blue” or High Energy Visible (HEV) wavelengths flicker more easily than longer, weaker wavelengths. This kind of flickering creates a glare that can reduce visual contrast and affect sharpness and clarity.

This flickering and glaring may be one of the reasons for eyestrain, headaches, physical and mental fatigue caused by many hours sitting in front of a computer screen or other electronic device.

Our eyes’ natural filters do not provide sufficient protection against  blue light rays from the sun, let alone the blue light emanating from these devices or from blue light emitted from fluorescent-light tubes. Prolonged exposure to blue light may cause retinal damage and contribute to age-related macular degeneration, which can lead to loss of vision.

WHERE IS THE INCREASED EXPOSURE COMING FROM?

The evolution in digital screen technology has advanced dramatically over the years, and many of today’s electronic devices use LED back-light technology to help enhance screen brightness and clarity.  These LEDs emit very strong blue light waves.  Cell phones, computers, tablets and flat-screen televisions are just among a few of the devices that use this technology.  Because of their wide-spread use and increasing popularity, we are gradually being exposed to more and more sources of blue light and for longer periods of time.

WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF BLUE-TURQUOISE LIGHT ON OUR HEALTH?

Most of us spend the majority of our waking hours staring at a digital screen. Studies suggest that 60% of people spend more than 6 hours a day in front of a digital device.

The Blue- Turquoise light can help elevate your mood and boost awareness, but chronic exposure to blue light at night can lower the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep, and disrupt your circadian rhythm.

Harvard researchers have linked working the night shift and exposure to blue light at night to several types of cancer (breast, prostate) diabetes, heart disease, obesity and an increased risk for depression.

Researchers aren’t exactly sure why exposure to blue light at night seems to have such detrimental effects on our health, but it is known that exposure to light suppresses the secretion of melatonin and lower melatonin levels might explain the association with these types of health problems.

Blue –Turquoise light also helps boost alertness, heighten reaction times, elevate moods, and increase the feeling of well-being.

BLUE-VIOLET LIGHT AND DIGITAL EYESTRAIN

Most of us spend the majority of our waking hours staring at digital screen, whether it’s the computer at work, our personal cell phone, playing a video game, or just relaxing and watching TV.  Strain is often caused by the distance between the eyes and a digital screen and the distance between the eye and our devices is getting as short as 25cm or less.

Digital eyestrain is a new term used to describe the conditions resulting from the use of today’s popular electronic gadgets. It is a medical issue with serious symptoms that can affect learning and work productivity

Spending just two consecutive hours on a digital device can cause eyestrain and fatigue.

Symptoms of digital eyestrain, or computer vision syndrome, include blurry vision, difficulty focusing, dry and irritated eyes, headaches, neck and back pain.

Digital eyestrain does not just affect adults.  Children are also at risk for eyestrain due to their growing use of digital devices.  Children today have more digital tools at their disposal than ever before – tablets, smart phones, e-readers, videogames are just among a few.  According to a study by the Kaiser family Foundation, children and teenagers (ages 8-18) spend more than 7 hours a day consuming electronic media. Before age 10, children’s eyes are not fully developed.  The crystalline lens and cornea are still largely transparent and overexposed to light, so too much exposure to blue light is not a good thing.  Parents should supervise and limit the amount of screen time their children are permitted.

BLUE-VIOLET  LIGHT AND MACULAR DEGENERATION

There’s growing medical evidence that blue-violet light exposure may cause permanent eye damage; contribute to the destruction of the cells in the center of the retina; and play a role in causing age-related macular degeneration, which can lead to vision loss.

Melanin is the substance in the skin, hair, and eyes that absorbs harmful UV and blue light rays. It’s the body’s natural sunscreen protection.  Higher amounts of melanin afford greater protection, but as we age we lose melanin, so that by age 65 half of the protection is gone making us more susceptible to eye disease such as macular degeneration.

The retina is a very thin, multi-layered tissue covering the inner eyeball. The retina can be harmed by high-energy visible radiation of blue/violet light that penetrates the macular pigment found in the eye. A low macular pigment density may represent a risk factor for age-related macular degeneration by permitting greater blue light damage to the retina.

A Harvard medical study states that “High Energy Visible (HEV) blue light has been identified for years as the most dangerous light for the retina.  After chronic exposure, one can expect to see long range growth in the number of macular degenerations, glaucomas, and retinal degenerative diseases”.  And a paper published by the American Macular Degeneration Foundation (AMDF) reports that “the blue rays of the spectrum seem to accelerate age-related macular degeneration (AMD) more than any other rays in the spectrum”

WHO NEEDS PROTECTION FROM BLUE LIGHT EXPOSURE?

We all do! Everyone needs to take precautions against the effects of blue light.  Whether we work in an office or play in the sun; spend hours staring at a computer screen or texting on our cell phones, we are all being exposed to blue light.