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Modern eyewear serves a dual purpose. In addition to being a vision-correcting medical device used to enhance your safety and quality of life, eyeglasses have become a major fashion accessory. Therefore, when it comes to selecting eyeglasses, there are many important factors to consider.
Frames are made from a large variety of materials ranging from acetates and hard plastics to metals and metal alloys. The quality of frame materials is very high nowadays with many cutting-edge manufacturers investing heavily in developing innovations and materials to make stronger, more flexible, lighter and more beautiful frames.
In considering the optimal material for your eyeglass frame, your lifestyle plays a big role. Children and those with active lifestyles require durable and flexible frames that are resistant to breaks from hits and falls. Those who have skin allergies need to seek out frames made from hypoallergenic materials such as acetate, titanium or stainless steel. Other characteristics of frame materials to consider are the weight or flexibility of the material as well as the price. Many designers also use wood, bone or precious metals to adorn frames.
Hinges and nosepads also play an important role in the durability and comfort of your frames. Children, in particular, can benefit from spring hinges and nosepads which can keep the frames from slipping off. Rimless or semi-rimless glasses are also an option if durability is not a primary concern.
Frame size is a very important factor in frame selection. Frames should fit well and not slip off the nose or be too tight and press against the temples or the sides of the nose.
More and more top fashion design brands are coming out with designer eyewear collections to suit every taste and style. Frames come in all colors, sizes, and shapes so the choices are endless in finding a frame that suits your style and looks good with your face shape and coloring.
Even though people spend much more time focusing on frame selection, as a medical device, the lenses of your eyeglasses are the most important part. It is therefore very important that you obtain your lenses (and therefore your glasses) from a reputable source. It is always best to buy eyeglasses through an eye doctor who can check that the lenses are made and fitted properly to ensure your best possible vision.
There are some variables to consider in selecting lenses.
If you have a high prescription that requires thicker lenses, you may want to ask for aspheric lenses, which are thinner than normal lenses.
Some lenses are made from more durable materials and shatter-resistant such as polycarbonate or trivex, which can be useful for children or sports eyewear.
Photochromic lenses can serve as eyeglasses and sunglasses as the lenses darken when exposed to the sunlight to block out the sunlight and UV rays.
Polarized lenses create greater eye comfort by reducing glare specifically from the water or snow and are great for sunglasses for those that spend time outdoors.
There are also some coating options that you can add onto lenses to enhance certain characteristics such as anti-reflective coatings, anti-scratch coatings or UV coatings to reduce exposure from the sun. Adding a coating may require special cleaning or treatment, so ask your eye doctor or optician about special instructions.
Eyeglasses Over 40
Once you approach age 40, you are likely to begin to experience presbyopia, which is the loss of the ability to focus on close objects. This happens as the eye begins to age and can easily be corrected with reading glasses. However, if you already have an eyeglass prescription for distance vision, you will need a solution that enables you to see your best both near and far.
There are some options available for presbyopes including bifocals, multifocals, and progressive lenses, with new technology improving the options all the time. You should speak to your eye doctor about the best solution for your individual needs.
Whether they are for a child’s first pair, the second pair of designer frames or a senior with a complicated prescription, you should always consult with your eye doctor for a new pair of glasses. Ultimately, your eyeglasses have a job and that is to help you to see your best to get the most out of every day.
Every sports activity requires a different skill set for success, yet all sports share a critical need for good vision. Geraint Griffiths, a British optometrist, devised a study to determine the effects of visual acuity on sports performance. This study distributed special vision-blurring goggles to Wimbledon tennis players and UK national clay pigeon shooters. Their performance was studied while the goggles were worn. Even though the goggles only blurred their vision a bit, the marksmen and tennis players showed a 25% decrease in accomplishment. This study demonstrated clearly that vision and sports achievement are inextricably linked.
Visual clarity isn’t the only benefit provided by sports eyewear. There are a number of additional eyewear features that boost athletic performance and enhance eye safety.
Protect Your Eyes from Impact-Related Injuries
As reported by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, over 42,000 sports-related eye injuries occur in the United States each year. Approximately 43% of those injuries happen to children under the age of 15. The majority of these injuries can be prevented with protective eyewear, such as safety goggles with polycarbonate lenses.
Regular eyeglasses are designed for daily wear, and they aren’t resilient enough to handle the rough and tumble wear needed for sports. They also provide inadequate protection for your eyes. Contact lenses offer zero protection from sports-related eye injuries. In contrast, sports eyewear is constructed to be highly impact-resistant, thereby granting superior protection for your eyes and removing anxiety about potential eye injuries. Able to withstand the hit of a ball traveling at up to 90 miles per hour, polycarbonate lenses are about 10 times more impact-resistant than regular lenses.
Safety eyeglasses are advised for every activity that has the potential for injuries to the eye. Be aware that the following land sports run a higher risk to eyes: softball, baseball, hockey, football, basketball, handball, squash, racquetball, tennis, volleyball, soccer and lacrosse. In water, all swimming and pool sports require specialized eye gear. Paintball players should also make safety eyewear an essential part of their game.
A Barrier against UV Rays
Harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation can be just as damaging to your eyes as other injuries. A number of eye diseases, such as ocular tumors, macular degeneration, and cataracts, have been associated with exposure to UV rays. Photokeratitis, which refers to sunburn on your eye, is another hazard. This painful condition can cause long-term corneal damage.
Dangerous UV rays are more potent at higher altitudes and also bounce off snow or outdoor water, which increases exposure. It is imperative for skiers and anyone who enjoys outdoor water sports to wear sports sunglasses or tinted goggles that block 100% of the sun’s UV rays.
Some types of contact lenses provide UV protection, yet they only cover the central part of your eye. For this reason, sunglasses that block UV rays should still be worn, preferably in a wraparound style that also covers the delicate tissues surrounding your eyes. Hats with a wide brim will upgrade your protection by further reducing facial exposure to UV rays.
Enhance Your Game with Colored Lenses
Special tinted eyewear may add a winning edge to your game. Depending upon the lighting conditions, it’s not always simple to “keep your eye on the ball”. Hunters favor shooting glasses with amber tinted lenses, which highlight the contrast of birds flying against an overcast, dim sky. Golfers tend to gain the largest benefit from green tinted lenses.
A wide range of specialized tints for specific indoor and outdoor sports are available. These lenses can improve visibility and contrast in a diversity of environments. Ask your eye doctor or optician for more information about which lenses can help raise your scores.
Don’t Let Light Get in the Way
Reflective surfaces, such as a flat body of water, a sandy beach or even light-colored pavement, can disturb your vision with glare. Polarized sunglasses are one effective way to resolve this problem.
Another glare reducer is to add and anti-glare (AG) component to your lenses. At night, sports eyewear with anti-glare will diminish lens reflections when playing under bright lights or spotlights. It’s a good idea to apply anti-glare to the back surface of sport sunglasses in order to decrease the glare that bounces into your eyesight when sunlight hits the back of your lenses.
You can control the light that enters your eye by wearing photochromic lenses. These clear lenses transition automatically into dark lenses upon exposure to UV rays. They also offer 100% UV protection, and return quickly to their former clear state when you go indoors.
Contacts Provide Comfortable and Convenient Vision
Many advantages come along with wearing contact lenses for sports, even if you normally wear eyeglasses on a daily basis:
- Unobstructed peripheral vision
- Natural-appearing vision, with no changes in image sizes
- No fogging lenses
- Non-slip when perspiring
The best contact lens choice for sports is soft one-day disposables. There’s no need to clean them and you can toss them in the garbage at the end of the day. The flexible, oxygen-permeable material of one-day soft lenses also requires very little adaptation. They can be inserted easily and worn comfortably for a full day of physical activity.
Although contact lenses offer high convenience and comfort, there are still a number of disadvantages with wearing contacts for sports. No protection against eye injury is provided and they don’t offer sufficient UV protection. For ultimate performance and safety, you need to wear quality protective eyewear or sunglasses over your lenses.
Firearms can be dangerous, and all have some recoil. In addition most shooting occurs outside, where elements such as dust, wind, sun, trees and vegetation can potentially harm eyes. Therefore it’s very important to use eye protection at all times when engaged in shooting activities, indoors and outside.
Generally, sports goggles that you can buy without prescription usually protect your eyes if you wear contacts or don’t need glasses. These goggles usually wrap around your eyes to form a shield against the elements. Make sure to buy goggles with lenses made of polycarbonate, which is the best and strongest lens material available.
Features of Shooting Glasses
Glasses for shooters are specially designed and have several important features. These glasses have more features that the general aviator- shaped frames that are popular. The most important feature is that the frame has a safety rating. Don’t buy any shooting glasses that don’t have such a rating. All of these models have a strong rim which holds the lenses in place. Some glasses have a “sweat bar” that goes along the width of the frame which creates stability for the frame to stay on the face. Other models use padding on the frame around the eyes, which cushions the frame on your face. This protects your face from gun recoil. Additionally, it adds to the protection against the elements.
Glasses for shooting often have temples with spring hinges. This type of hinge allows the frame to move without breaking. Many glasses often include temples that wrap around your ear which helps keep the frame in the correct position on your face. Features that make the frames more comfortable often include soft silicon pads around the nose, which also help to keep the frame in place. Frames may be made out of several different types of materials, including various metals and titanium, plastic and polycarbonate.
Lenses for Shooting Glasses
Shooters have chosen polycarbonate lenses with UV protection and a scratch-resistant coating as their lens of choice for years. Polycarbonate lenses are extremely resistant to impact, and also give a lot of “bounce back” and “blow back” protection. However, there are newer materials for lenses that have been developed recently that are also excellent choices for shooters.
Non-prescription shooting glasses often come with interchangeable lenses. These lenses are used when facing varied conditions of light. If you need prescription lenses, you can order your lenses in various colors of your choice. Shooters often enjoy using orange or yellow colored lenses. These colors of lenses block blue light as well as haze. They also provide a more vivid hue of orange, which is often the color of the target. Bright yellow lenses are good for using in low light, or foggy weather conditions.
A light purple lens is particularly good for seeing an orange target when the background is green trees. Purple lenses are made from a mixture of vermillion and gray. Some shooters like vermilion, because this color helps see where there is a natural outdoor background, and helps the target to stand out. If you prefer a neutral or natural color, gray is the color of choice. A gray lens allows you to see all colors naturally, and are good for using in strong sunshine.
Polarized lenses are available in most colors. Polarized lenses are good for use in the outdoors, as they reduce glare. This is particularly helpful when shooting near water.
If you need vision correction, participating in swimming and watersports requires an extra bit of planning. You want to see your best both in and out of the water but your regular glasses and contact lenses aren’t feasible options. Well the good news is, there are prescription swimming goggles and masks available to provide optimal vision in the water and here is what you need to know about them.
First of all, many people don’t know about the dangers of wearing contact lenses in the water. Wearing contact lenses in any kind of water, whether it is an ocean, a pool or even a shower, is risky because bacteria in the water could cause an infection if they get under your lens. Unless you are wearing a mask or goggles that are 100% sealed and don’t let any water underneath, wearing contacts in the water is not recommended. If you do decide to wear contact lenses in the water, it is recommended to discard them immediately upon exiting the water.
Prescription Swimming Goggles
A fantastic solution for swimmers is prescription swimming goggles. These are regular swim goggles with either pre-made or a custom made prescriptions lenses. Pre-made lenses will likely not be fit to your exact prescription needs, but if you select them appropriately, they will be adequate for you to see well for swimming and sporting in the water. Custom made goggle lenses will fit your prescription, although they will be slightly different than your regular eyeglass prescription because of the differences in seeing underwater. Whether you are purchasing pre-made or custom made swimming goggles, you should consult with your eye doctor and/or an optician knowledgeable on the topic to make sure you select the optimal lens for your vision needs. If you have astigmatism or another eye condition, you may have additional needs to consider.
Prescription Snorkeling and Scuba Diving Masks
If you scuba dive or snorkel you want to see every detail of the beautiful underwater world. You can achieve this by using a dive mask with a prescription lens. There are a few options for prescription masks. In the first option corrective lenses are bonded or glued to the inside of your mask, creating a second layer. A second option is to purchase a mask in which the entire lens of the mask is replaced with a prescription lens. These can be premade or custom made lenses. There are also now masks that are made with removeable lenses in which you can buy the corrective lens separately and insert it yourself.
You may have to adjust to viewing with a corrective dive mask because the lens might be further from your eyes than you are used to with your regular eyewear.
In general, pre-made prescription lenses on both goggles and masks are cheaper than the custom made options. In most cases, since you are using them for a relatively short period of time, the pre-made options can suffice. If however, you are a serious diver and want to see as clearly as possibly, it may be worthwhile to look into a custom made mask.
Nowadays, sports eyewear tells the world that you are a serious player. It doesn’t matter whether you bat in Little League or skate with the pros, eye gear for sports offers a long list of benefits.
Protective eyewear, such as specialized goggles and wraparound frames with polycarbonate lenses, helps to reduce or eliminate your risk of eye damage. An added bonus is that performance is often enhanced, due to the high quality vision provided from eyewear made for wearing on the playing field.
Eye gear for sports is not merely recommended, but now mandated by many clubs. Members are required to wear proper protective eyewear in order to participate in activities. Once upon a time, kids used to cringe at the concept of wearing goggles, but just like bike helmets have become the norm – sports goggles are now accepted as part of the uniform and regarded as ultra-cool.
Protect Your Eyes from Fast and Furious Sports Action
If you’re still unconvinced about your need to wear protective eyewear for sports, take a look at these scary statistics:
- Hospital emergency rooms treat 40,000 eye injuries annually, which are sports-related
- Tennis and badminton are played with objects that zoom at 60 mile per hour or faster. With racquetball, the ball can whizz by at 60 to 200 miles per hours.
- Activities such as racquetball involve racquets that swing at lightning speed in a confined space where crashes are inevitable.
- Many sports are filled with pokes and jabs from elbows or fingers. Even basketball is associated with a high incidence of injuries to the eye.
Up Your Performance with Sports Eyewear
Until recently, people with mild to moderate vision correction used to play their games without wearing eyeglasses or contacts. Yet top performance in any sport is dependent upon sharp vision. Eye gear and goggles for sports allow you to compete at your best, with 20/20 eyesight.
Key Features of Sports Glasses
Sports eyewear does not share the same characteristics as regular eyeglasses, sunglasses or industrial safety glasses. Crafted in a variety of shapes, sports eye gear is specialized to suit the specific needs of each respective sport. Many types of eyewear are even designed to fit into helmets worn when playing football, baseball or hockey.
Protective lenses are generally made from polycarbonate, a durable and impact-resistant material that boasts full UV protection for outdoor action. Polycarbonate lenses are also scratch-resistant, which is a valuable feature for many rough sports.
The frames are typically designed from highly-impact resistant plastic or polycarbonate, and they are coated with rubber padding at every point that connects with your face. Some frame styles are contoured to wrap around your face, which provides secure coverage for activities such as hang-gliding, sailing and biking. Non-prescription wraparound shapes are useful for contact lens wearers, as they block your eyes from dust or wind.
Classic handball goggles used to be fashioned as plain goggles with small openings instead of lenses. That style was abandoned once it was realized that the high speed of handballs actually compressed the balls enough to penetrate through the goggle opening and seriously damage the orbital bones around your eye. Modern and effective goggles for handball and racquetball include polycarbonate lenses that protect your eyes.
Importance of a Good Fit
There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to sports goggles. Proper sizing is critical for top-notch function. For kids, many parents may be tempted to purchase larger goggles so that they’ll be long-lasting with room to grow. Yet if the frames are truly oversized, they won’t protect the child’s eyes adequately. Impact or blows to the face or head won’t be cushioned properly.
On the flipside, wearing sports goggles that are too small is just as hazardous. Not only will the child be constantly tempted to take them off due to discomfort, but the eyewear will also disturb peripheral vision. Without a good view of all that’s happening around your child, sports performance will be compromised. Hits from unseen sources on the sidelines are another risk factor.
The fit of sports goggles should be reassessed each year. The eyewear should still feel comfortable and provide proper eye protection. The padding on the interior of the goggles must rest flush with your or your child’s face, and eyes should be centered in the lens zone.
You may think that you are set with your everyday eyewear, but there are a lot more options than just sun and ophthalmic glasses. Whether it’s water sports, a construction job or even working around the home, there are many circumstances which require specialty eyewear to add extra protection, prevent injury, and improve vision and performance. Here is an overview of some of the different types of specialty eyewear to consider.
Typical eyewear is not made to hold up to the safety and performance standards required for sports and athletic use. Sports eyewear is made of stronger materials and design for ultimate impact resistance and durability. Sports eyewear is also designed for ultimate comfort, fit and coverage to protect from elements such as sun, water or wind. The lenses are also made with impact resistant materials such as innovative plastics such as Trivex or Polycarbonate. Most lenses will also include 100% UV protection, anti-glare and anti-scratch properties to further protect the lenses. Polarized lenses will also aid your sports eyewear to improve vision in outdoor environments. Depending on your sport there may be a specific type of eyewear suited to your needs such as sports goggles, shooting glasses or ski goggles. Speak to your optician about your sport of choice to determine the safest and most effective eyewear for you.
If you sit for extended periods of time at a computer or in front of a handheld screen you are at risk for computer vision syndrome, eye strain, eye fatigue, headaches and muscle strain. This is largely because your eyes view a computer screen differently than they view the world around you. Glare from the screen can also exacerbate these issues. Computer glasses are designed to reduce the strain and to create a more comfortable visual experience when looking at your screen.
As we approach the age of 40, our near vision begins to weaken – a condition called presbyopia. This can be corrected by wearing reading glasses when reading or doing close work. There are a number of options for reading glasses depending on your vision needs. People with distance vision correction needs may prefer bifocal or multifocal lenses that allow you to see at a distance as well with the same pair of glasses. It is worthwhile to speak to your optometrist to find the best solution for your vision near and far.
Safety Glasses and Goggles
Whether you are working with power tools in construction, mowing your lawn or using harsh cleaning products, there are plenty of household projects and hobbies that can pose a serious risk to your eyes and vision. Whether it is the danger of debris being projected toward your eyes or a chemical splash, safety goggles or glasses should be worn whenever dealing with dangerous materials or machinery.
Specialty eyewear manufacturers are always developing new innovations to protect your eyes and improve your vision during the activities that you enjoy. Ask your optometrist about the specialty eyewear that is suitable for your interests and hobbies.
It’s time to choose a new pair of eyeglasses, and the current selection of frames is overwhelming. Armed with only your vision prescription, you now need to navigate between different materials, colors, prices and unique features of all the eyeglass frames. Here is a basic guide that explains about the most common types of frames and what they have to offer.
The most popular material for eyeglass frames, there is a whole array of metals to consider. Each metal comes with a distinctive set of properties and characteristics.
Titanium: Extremely resilient and corrosion-resistant, titanium is also hypoallergenic and weighs in at 40% lighter than other metals. Available in a variety of color tones, titanium is an ideal material for eyeglasses.
Beta titanium: Titanium mixed with small quantities of aluminum and vanadium, this alloy is more flexible than pure titanium. Adjustments to your eyeglass fit are therefore done easily.
Memory metal: Frames made of memory metal are composed of a titanium alloy that has approximately 50% nickel and 50% titanium. These eyeglasses are very bendable and will return to their original shape even after they are twisted and turned. Memory metal frames are superb for kids or anyone who is rough on their eyeglasses.
Beryllium: The primary advantage of beryllium is its corrosion-resistance. A less costly metal than titanium, beryllium doesn’t tarnish. It is an ideal option for anyone who spends a lot of time around salt water, or who possesses high skin acidity. Flexible, durable and lightweight, beryllium comes in a range of colors.
Stainless steel: Manufactured in both matte and polished, glossy finishes, stainless steel is strong, flexible, corrosion-resistant and lightweight. An iron-carbon alloy, it also contains chromium.
Monel: This popular alloy of copper and nickel is less expensive than other metals, yet depending upon the quality of plating used – it sometimes discolors or causes skin reactions after long use.
Aluminum: Lightweight and very resistant to corrosion, aluminum boasts a unique look and is frequently used in high-end, exclusive eyewear.
Zyl: Abbreviated from “zylonate” (cellulose acetate), zyl is relatively inexpensive and very popular in plastic eyeglass frames. Lightweight, it is available in a rainbow of colors, including multi-colored versions and layers of different colors within one frame.
Propionate: Often used in sports frames, propionate is extremely durable and flexible. This nylon-based plastic is also lightweight and hypoallergenic.
Nylon: Over recent years, nylon has been replaced largely by more resilient nylon blends, such as polyamides, gliamides and copolyamides. While 100% nylon is lightweight and strong, it tends to weaken with age and become brittle.
Cellulose acetate: A plant-based plastic that is hypoallergenic. This material was first used for eyewear in the late 1940’s because of brittleness and other problems with previously used plastics. Today’s acetates are known for being strong, lightweight, and flexible. Cellulose acetate also has the widest range for transparency, rich colors, and finishes. More complex colorations are able to be produced by layering several colors or transparencies in layers and sandwiching them together.
The best of both worlds, combination frames offer metal and plastic components in one frame. These styles were trendy in the 1950s and 1960s and have recently been revitalized for a fun comeback in many more colors and tones than the classic versions.
Mix It Up!
Each respective frame material brings unique features and advantages to your eyeglasses. One pair of glasses may not fit every part of your daily routine, in addition to social outings and special occasions. Perhaps a pair of titanium frames is best for your sophisticated, conservative work environment, but on the weekends you’d prefer to show off style with a retro zyl frame in laminated colors? Consider purchasing more than one pair of eyeglasses, and match your frames to your personality and lifestyle.
Polycarbonate lenses are high index lenses that are known primarily for their exceptional impact resistance and anti-scratch coating. If you or your children are always bumping, scratching or dropping your eyeglasses, this is the material for you. Up to 10 times more impact resistant than standard plastic eyeglass lenses, polycarbonate is a first-rate option for people with an active lifestyle. Developed in the 1970s, polycarbonate has been protecting eyes for quite a while.
Superb Eye Safety
If you regularly engage in sports or physical activity, these tough, durable lenses provide an extra degree of safety for your eyes. In fact, most protective eye gear and sports goggles are made from polycarbonate lenses, even when no vision prescription is needed. In addition, polycarbonate boasts built-in protection from the sun’s UV rays, making this an ideal lens material for time spent outdoors.
The refractive index of polycarbonate lenses is 1.59, which results in a lens that’s 20% to 25% thinner than common plastic lenses. Weighing in at 30% lighter than regular lenses, polycarbonate takes a load off the bridge of your nose!
Developed in 2001, Trivex lenses are constructed from a newer plastic that shares many properties with polycarbonate. While also thin, scratch-resistant, highly impact-resistant and lightweight, Trivex lenses may be slightly thicker than polycarbonate lenses. For some vision prescriptions, they may provide a better visual clarity and more scratch resistance than polycarbonate lenses.
Whether you are out on the field, the golf course, the waves or the mountains, you want your sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun and enhance your visual experience. Sports and performance sunglasses are more than sun protection, they need to be designed for optimal, fit, comfort, acuity and strength, based on the demands of the sport or leisure activity you pursue.
Each element of your sports eyewear needs to be designed for active wear and to stand up to the tests of extreme weather conditions, rough play, impact and of course the sun. If you are fishing for example, you need anti-glare protection in your lenses for when the sun’s bright rays reflect off the water, you need a broad frame to keep out the mist and wind and you need strong frames and lenses for impact resistance. Most importantly, depending on your sport of choice, your glasses should assist in creating an enhanced visual experience so you can see and perform at your best.
Performance Sport Lenses
The first consideration when selecting your sports eyewear is the lens. You likely want a lightweight, strong and durable lens that can withstand impact from debris, other athletes, balls or falls. The leading lenses in this arena are polycarbonate or trivex lenses which are made from highly impact resistant plastic that has built-in UV protection.
Glare can be an annoying and uncomfortable distraction in outdoor activities, which can reduce vision and have a negative impact on sports performance. Polarized lenses will help to reduce the glare that is reflected off of wet, icy or shiny surfaces. Lens tints and coatings (such as anti-glare or anti-scratch coatings) can also help to improve visual clarity and can serve to reduce glare and to enhance contrast sensitivity to improve vision and therefore performance in certain outdoor activities. Some sports sunglasses come with interchangeable lenses of different tints to allow you to choose the contrast that most suits the conditions you are playing in.
When selecting sports sunglass frames, the most important consideration is whether they have a comfortable and secure fit. Look for a pair that is strong and durable, yet lightweight and that doesn’t press into your face and cause discomfort at the temples or the bridge of the nose. For some sports like snowboarding, sports goggles might be the best option for the weather conditions and specific nature of the movement. Some frame options come with grips on the nose pads or temples to avoid slippage, particularly when you perspire.
Sports sunglasses are available in a variety of styles, shapes and sizes and the type that is best for you largely depends on the activities you participate in and what they demand. It is best to consult with your eye doctor or optician to get a full picture of your eye, vision and athletic needs in order to find the best pair of sports sunglasses for you.
Many parents don’t know the importance of sunglasses for children and don’t stress that they wear them, especially given the hassle involved in encouraging children to wear them and take care of them properly. However, studies show that since we spend so much time outdoors and in the sunshine as children that by the age of 18, our eyes and body have absorbed half of our lifetime ultraviolet radiation (UV) exposure. This makes the use of sunglasses and proper UV protection even more critical for children.
Risks to children’s eyes from overexposure to the sun can be short term and long term. Short terms risks include photokeratitis also known as “snow blindness” which is essentially a sunburn of the eye. Photokeratitis can cause temporary vision loss for up to 48 hours. Pterygium is another condition, also referred to as “surfer’s eye,” which causes an itchy, swollen growth to form on the surface of the eye. Pterygium often require surgery to remove.
Long term UV damage is known to be a risk factor for a number of eye diseases including cataracts (a clouding of the lens of the eye that causes vision loss) and age-related macular degeneration, which also causes permanent vision loss and low vision, as well as cancer of the eye, eyelid or the skin around the eye. Wearing sunglasses with wide or wrap-around lenses will protect not only your eyes, but also the area around your eyes from UV exposure and damage. Since these diseases can be caused by an accumulation of UV exposure over a lifetime, it is important to start preventative measures early, by getting children in the habit of wearing sunglasses when they are outside.
Quality sunglasses for children are easy to find these days, you just have to know what to look for. Firstly, you want to make sure that the lenses have 100% UVA and UVB protection and block UV absorption up to 400 nanometers. You also want to ensure that the frames completely cover as much of the eye and its surrounding as possible. Many frames will come with a band to help hold the sunglasses in place and prevent loss. You may also choose to buy polycarbonate or trivex lenses, as they are more durable and impact resistant which is particularly helpful for active kids.
Children that already wear eyeglasses can consider photochromic lenses (which darken in response to sunlight) which basically gives them two pairs of glasses for the price of one. With photochromic lenses, you don’t need to worry about your children switching, and misplacing glasses when they go in or outdoors.
As with any glasses purchase, ask your optician about the policy for lost or broken sunglasses. Make sure you get a strong storage case and discuss with your child the best ways to keep the sunglasses safe and secure.
Lastly, let your child be involved in the process of selecting sunglasses, as any child will be more enthusiastic about wearing shades that he or she picked out and loves.