I have had some questions lately related to eye damage from sun, and reflections from ice/snow, and people wondering if that can damage your eyes? YES! Sun glare is a huge danger for our eyes, which is why it is really important to protect them, but there are also some everyday risks that I don’t think most people are aware of that can cause visual damage. If you are a skier/snowboarder, sailor, hiker….anything outdoorsy, where you might be at risk for sun glare, I want to tell you about the sunglasses that you NEED to protect those peepers (and why they are superior). And if you are at risk, for other reasons (perhaps due to your work environment) some tips on how to prevent eye damage and protect your eyes at work.
How does vision work?
The eye is a very fascinating organ, and it always amazes me how it works. There is the cornea, which is the protective covering over the front of the eye (which is clear and gooey), then there is the lens, which helps to focus light rays towards the retina (the first real filter). The big black center of the eye is the pupil, and that determines how much light is allowed into the eye at one time (gets bigger and smaller depending on a lot of things, but usually the amount of light present is a huge factor). There is the Iris that surrounds the pupil, and that is the colored part of our eyes (that’s what makes the men swoon, ladies, always the iris!) At the very back of your eyeball is a nerve tissue called the retina, and that is what senses light, and sends impulses (through a nerve called the optic nerve) directly to your brain. There is a small part of the retina, called the macula, which helps us to see fine details, through having super light sensitivity (this can be difficult in bright sunlight without the proper protection). All of these areas of the eye, work together to make our vision what it is. Any damage to any one part of your eyes (or the part of you brain that sense your optic nerves), can drastically change your vision. So, protecting our eyes is really crucial.
What damages eyes?
Most people know about UV-A and UV-B, but did you know about how much damage can be caused by UV-C and Blue light? Ultraviolet light (UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C which are denoted in nanometers, or nm) cannot be seen by the human eye, but they will definitely cause visual damage, over time, with exposure. UV-C (180-290 nm) is the lowest range of Ultraviolet light (on the light spectrum) and excessive, repeated exposure to it, causes damage to our cornea and lens, and is usually present in sparks or any source of created electricity (visualizing direct bright light). Repeated exposure to UV-B (280-315 nm) (which is found in nature and indoors as well) can cause damage to the lens and create something called “welders eye” (AKA snow blindness, flash blindness, corneal burns); when you are exposed to high levels of UV light, and it can occur hours after exposure, you feel like your eyes are burning or itching with sand in them and they become quite uncomfortable and watery. UV-A (315-380 nm) which is the highest wavelength (which is found out in nature from the sun) can also cause snow blindness (“welders eye”) with excessive and repeated exposure. Now, Blue light (380-500 nm), which is present in sunlight, as well as in offices from some lighting and computer screens, causes direct damage to the retina. Many sunglasses do not have full UV-A, UV-B, UV-C, and Blue light protection, which puts you at risk, without even knowing it. But, you might have a clue; are you still squinting in sunlight behind your sunglasses? That most likely means they are ineffective and not totally protecting you, but I know a fix for that problem. And, at work, if you have to work at a computer all day, which many people do, what are you going to do, be the cool guy in the office and wear shades all day long? No, we can find some workarounds for that too.
How can I protect my eyes?
Outdoors: Well, for starters, you can always have sunglasses on your eyes when you are out in light. But not just any sunglasses, you need to have a sunglasses that, let’s be honest, look really cool, fit optimally, and actually protect your eyes. There is one new brand out there that actually covers all the aforementioned criteria, along with some other really amazing features: Alue Optics. A lot of companies create a really basic product for the lowest possible cost, slap on their brand name and charge a premium for their glasses, and you are really getting an inferior product that doesn’t protect your eyes at all (or minimally) from UV-A and/or UV-B exposure. Honestly, that was something I never really paid attention to; I bought whatever looked cool from Prada (or whatever other brand du jour) and called it a day, but what I have realized now that I am starting to pay attention to my body and the reactions it has, that when I am out in the snow or out on the ocean (or even just driving with snow on the ground) when it is sunny and there is glare, my sunglasses, that I paid quite a premium for, are not at all helpful and I’m still squinting behind them to try to cut the glare…and it doesn’t work. That means my eyes are being damaged AND I can’t visualize anything well, which is really an all around fail.
Alue Optics is a company that was started by a mother and son duo looking to create the ultimate sunglasses, made for people who are active outdoors, whether on the water, running, hiking, being active or taking pictures in the sun, and need to be able to actually visualize what they are doing/snapping pics of…and look good at all the same time. They have created sunglasses that are made for visual acuity (being able to see well what you need to see: the protection from the sunlight and glare allows for the macula to be able to detect fine detail, thus you have better visualization to take pictures, see further, etc.) and comfort using optimal quality glass lenses, giving 100% UV-A, UV-B, & UV-C protection, along with 100% Blue light protection up to 410nm and 93% up to 480nm, which is a statement that almost no other companies can make! Your eyes are basically protected from 180nm to 800nm, and that’s no joke, and the lenses have been extensively tested to prove that. The lenses are made up of five layers of which three are: a polarizing film (a film that helps to filter the lights concentrated reflections that lead to glare), a hydrophobic coating (to prevent smudges and dirt from ruining your vision while being active), and an anti-reflective coating (to prevent glares reflection). Plus, the designs of the glasses are über cool, and are made to be comfortable (no pinching at the nose or uncomfortable above your ears) because they are made with spring hinges, and made of the finest quality frames from Italy and Japan. These sunglasses hit everything on my list: look rad on, protect my eyes, and I can see with such amazing clarity? Any of you who are active outdoors (or even drive in the snow/intense sun) need to get some Alue Optic shades.
Indoors: When you are exposed to UV indoors from your job because you work with welding, intense fire, or other high intensity electricity that you need to stare at, you should always wear protective eye gear with UV-A, UV-B, UV-C, and Blue light protection. Now, if you work in an office, computer screen glare is not such an easy fix, but there are things we can do to protect our peepers: look away or take a quick “eye break” every 5 minutes (in that you look away from the screen for a few seconds), or close your eyes for 5-10 seconds when you are doing a lot of data input or computer work to give your eyes a small break. It is best to have your computer screen 16″-30″ from your eyes (not too close and not straining), and ensure your font is big enough so you aren’t straining to see what you are typing. Whenever your office gets heavy sunlight (if you are lucky enough to have a window), use blinds or move your computer screen to prevent glare from the sun on your screen from reflecting directly into your eyes, and try keep your screen clean from dust and fingerprints, because they can add to glare and cause you to strain to see what is on your screen. Finally, adjust the contrast/brightness of your screen to decrease the amount of eye strain and glare, everyone has a sweet spot based on the lighting available in your office, so adjust your screen to work with what you have and makes you most comfortable.
So, while I am sure you all were hoping I would tell you that you just had to quit your computer jobs to save your overall optical healthy, not so (sorry); just alter your environment to make the least amount of strain as possible and try to get some natural light when you can to give your eyes a break, plus don’t go home after staring at a computer all day and stare at a computer again all night! Give your eyes a break: read a book.
And, for those of you who are in search of the chupacabra of sunglasses, that are made with the most optimal materials from around the world, protect your eyes, and look AMAZINGLY cool, Alue Optics has given me a promo code for you guys to get 25% off your order. When you find the pair of shades that works best for you, enter the code: nursebridgid at checkout and you can thank me later while seeing the world more clearly without glare….and with healthy, fresh eyes! Go check them out, and I know that you will understand why they are such a superior product, I promise your eyes will be happy and healthy!
Yours in Good Health