Tuesday, October 17, 2017
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Choose the right sunglasses

Protect your eyes with sunglasses

 

Cabarete has more sunny days than most other places in the world so a good pair of sunglasses becomes a bit of a necessity when you are here. Find out more about how you can effectively protect your eyes from UV rays and ensure good vision in bright conditions.

 

 

What's the fuss with UV rays
Although we all love the sun, it is widely known that the ultra violet (UV) rays emitted are not so good for us. Our eyes especially are susceptible to UV-B and UV-A rays and it has been shown that exposure to small amounts of UV radiation over a period of many years increases the chance of developing a cataract and may cause damage to the retina, a nerve-rich lining of the eye that is used for seeing. Additionally, chronic exposure to shorter wavelength visible light (i.e. blue and violet light) may also be harmful to the retina.

Short term excessive exposure to UV radiation can lead to a type of “sunburn of the eye”. Photokeratitis can be painful and includes symptoms such as red eyes, a foreign body sensation or gritty feeling in the eyes, extreme sensitivity to light and excessive tearing. Fortunately, this is usually temporary and rarely causes permanent damage to the eyes.

So what should you keep in mind when making your choice?


UV400 is the label to look out for100% UV block
Light is measured in nanometers, with UVB rays measuring 320-390 nanometers. UV protection information should be printed on the hangtag or price sticker of any sunglasses you buy, no matter where you buy them. If it isn't, find a different pair.  Good sunglasses should block UV rays by 99 to 100%. Otherwise don’t bother buying them.

Also keep in mind that cheap, tinted sunglasses with limited UV protection can actually do more harm than good, as they cause your eye pupils to open up wider, leaving them even more vulnerable to UV rays. Kids' eyes are especially vulnerable to UV light, since they don't have the same level of natural protection as adults.


Labels explained
If sunglasses carry a CE mark (the European standard of UV protection) that should mean they do not allow more than 5 per cent of UV rays below 380 nanometers to get through. The other thing you may see on your glasses is a UV 400 sign. Technically, this means they offer more protection than those with just a CE mark but the difference is minimal as the ultraviolet between 380 and 400 (which is the UVA light) is not as damaging as the ultraviolet at the lower end of the scale.

In the United States look for the ANSI Z80.3 label, which is the same as the UV 400 label. And if you’re also looking for impact resistance, the US standard, ANSI Z87.1-2003, should also be displayed on the label.


Fit of the sunglasses
UV light can also get to your eyes from the sides and the gap between your face and sunglasses, so be sure to get a good fit. Wrap-around sunglasses will of course provide more protection than John Lennon type of sunnies.

To ensure a good fit make sure that the sunglasses sit far back on the bridge of the nose but without being too close to your eyes. If your eyelashes touch the lenses or the frame, they are too close to your eyes, or your eyelashes are too long for the frame and you should consider buying a different model.

The weight of the sunglasses should also be evenly distributed between your ears and nose. Frames should be light enough to avoid excess friction on these contact points.


Polarized lenses are better if you're close to the waterLens color
All sunglass lenses are tinted to cut down on overall brightness and enhance terrain definition. Keeping in mind that you want to use your sunnies in Cabarete you will want to choose either brown, grey or green colored lenses.  These are color-neutral and cut down on overall brightness without distorting colors.

The darker you go, the less light is allowed to go through. The scale goes from 1 to 4, with 4 being the darkest. Do not use grade 4 tinted glasses if you intend to drive.

Other tints such as yellow, gold and amber lenses  or rose and vermillion-colored lenses provide less overall brightness protection, so these are not recommended for the bright conditions of Cabarete.


Mirrored lenses
Some sunglasses have a mirrored or flash coating. This coating is basically a reflective film applied to the outside surfaces of some sunglass lenses. They reduce glare by reflecting much of the light that hits the lens surface. Mirrored coatings make objects appear darker than they are, so lighter tints are often used to compensate for this.


Polarized lenses
Polarized lenses are a great thing to have if you enjoy water sports or are especially sensitive to glare. When light reflects off of water, especially when flat, the light waves align in horizontal patterns, creating intense glare. The filters in polarized lenses block these horizontal light waves, substantially reducing blinding glare and its resulting eyestrain.

Keep in mind that when you are driving, polarized sunglasses can in some instances react with the tints in windshields, creating blind spots and diminishing the visibility of LCD readouts. If this occurs, you should consider mirrored lenses as a glare-reducing alternative for driving.

The method used to polarize lenses affects both the optical quality and cost of the sunglasses. Inexpensive casual styles have the polarizing filter applied as an external film coating, whereas more durable and expensive sunglasses sandwich the polarizing filter between layers of the lens. The newest high-end technology combines the polarizing filter with the lens material while the latter is in a liquid form. This allows the filter and lens to bond without the use of adhesives and sustains an exceptionally high optical quality.


Visible Light Transmission
The amount of light that reaches your eyes through your lenses is called Visible Light Transmission (VLT). Measured as a percentage, VLT is affected by the color and thickness of your lenses, the material they're made of and the coatings they have on them. Unless you are going to climb a glacier, look for a VLT percentage of 15 to 25%. This range is great for everyday use and basic recreational activities. For watersports look for sunnies with a VLT range of 10 to 20%.


High impact water sports sunglasses
If you kite, surf or windsurf you might want to consider investing in a good pair of sunglasses that you can wear while being out on the water. Look for specs that provide the right protection and visibility whilst also being able to float, have a headband, and have holes in the frame so the water can go out.


Kids and sunglasses
Experts warn not to put children in sunglasses all the time. Their pupils are naturally a little wider than adults and if they then wear sunglasses this makes the pupils dilate to allow more light in.

And if you put children in sunglasses a lot - not just when it is a bright sunny day - their pupils will gradually lose tone and won't be able to become smaller (which reduces the amount of light coming in to the eye) as they should, so as adults they won't tolerate bright light well.

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