What's the Importance of UV Protection Contact Lenses?
Summertime means the sun is shining brightly outside, nurturing the plants and warming the animals and humans who love to bask in its light – even if it's through a window during quarantine.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between 5 and 15 minutes of sun exposure two to three times a week during the summer is sufficient to achieve the beneficial effects of adequate sun exposure, which are mainly the production of vitamin D and serotonin, a hormone thought to provide a sensation of wellbeing and happiness.
If the exposure is going to be longer than that (which can easily happen when you exercise, work or walk around), applying sunblock is second nature to most of us. But many are not yet aware that we should apply the same protection to our eyes: according to a Met Office poll, only 22% of adults in the UK worry about those effects.
That's worrying because even if the Earth's atmosphere blocks around 77% of the Sun's ultraviolet (UV) light, the rays that come through can still cause damage to our vision if we're not careful.
A simple form of eyecare is wearing high quality contact lenses, spectacles or sunglasses with UV-blocking technology anytime you're exposed to sunshine.
Looking for UV protection contact lenses? We've got you
Before we get into the specifics, we'd like to tell you that all Eyebou's contact lenses have UV protection (70% against UVA rays and 95% against UVB rays), which helps diminish exposure.
If you'd like to go a step further in taking care of your eyes, you can subscribe to our vitamin contact lenses service, which brings you contact lenses infused with a solution of vitamins B6, B12 and E!
Now that you know what we can do for you, let's dive in:
How ultraviolet light can hurt your eyes
Your current eyewear may look quite modern (we bet it's awesome), but the idea of protecting your eyes from sunburn is actually thousands of years old.
Indigenous people in North America have been using snow goggles for generations, building them out of wood, bone or ivory in order to reduce their field of vision and therefore the amount of light that bounces back from the white snow. This is a pretty cool example:
[Source: Wikipedia. Snow goggles (and case) from the early 19th century made by the Inuit people: it helps diminish the sun glare and it's a form of UV protection in the snow]
That's to prevent what's commonly known as "snow blindness", a form of photokeratitis, a painful temporary vision problem that arises from insufficiently protected eyes exposed to strong UV reflections. It can happen with light reflected off snow, water, sand, and ice, as well as with UV light from artificial sources, such as tanning beds.
Persistent unprotected exposure to UV light can also increase the risk of developing eye cancers, macular degeneration and cataracts, as well as growths on the eyes that might impair vision. One of them, called pterygium, grows on the cornea, near the nose, and usually afflicts people that spend a long time under the strong sun – fishers, farmers, and surfers, for example.
And yep, you guessed it: there's also solar retinopathy, the reason why we shouldn't stare at a solar eclipse or even at the sun directly. In this case, the lesion can cause retinal damage, and the consequences may include loss of visual acuity.
What about blue light exposure?
It's possible you've heard about blue light, the one emitted by the screens of electronic gadgets such as mobiles, tablets, televisions and laptops. Since we're on the subject of protecting your eyes daily, it seems like a good idea to seize the chance to tell you about it.
It's important to begin by pointing out that UV light and blue light are not the same thing, so methods and reasons for protection are different.
You might remember from your physics lessons that light itself is a form of electromagnetic radiation measured in wavelength and frequency. Oh, you don't? No worries. Here's a nifty 10 minute video to help you.
Now that you're up to date on your light spectrum knowledge: UV light is invisible to our eyes, even though it can damage them. Blue light is part of the visible light spectrum and is mostly fine. But too much of it, we're learning, can affect us in another way.
Blue light and your sleep
Since we are constantly looking at screens, which are filled with blue light even if we don't perceive it as such, there is a growing body of research on exposure effects.
So far there's no significant link between eye damage and screens' blue light (even at a maximum, your iPad's bright light can't hurt your vision), but research results show another impact: on your internal biological clock, as explained in this Harvard Health Letter, last reviewed in 2018.
An experiment by Harvard researchers showed that blue light can suppress the secretion of melatonin, a hormone produced by the brain when it's dark and that helps you sleep, and shifted people's circadian rhythm.
That can make it more difficult to sleep, disrupt sleeping patterns and otherwise cause havoc in your daily cycle. And that can lead to insufficient sleep, which increases risk for a series of diseases, such as diabetes, depression, and cardiovascular issues.
Eyebou's blue light lenses to the rescue
To avoid such side effects in an increasingly technological society, it's suggested that people start protecting from excessive blue light exposure after dark in order to keep their light-sensitive circadian rhythm from shifting too much.
Nowadays, there are plenty of apps and settings on your devices that you can activate to filter/block blue wavelengths after a determined time (it works mostly by turning them orange-ish).
There's also a more practical way: opt for lenses covered with blue light blocking coating, like the ones Eyebou offers for customers (only available in the GCC). Just send in your spectacles or sunglasses for a refitting & enjoy your screen time!