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All,

 

Now that summer is approaching (in the northern hemisphere!), many of us will be spending more time outdoors. In this post over on the Sensible Diet and Lifestyle Advice thread, TomBAvoider spells out the importance of protecting against sun damage, both for the skin and especially the eyes. In this post a bit later in that thread, I share the two different pairs of sunglasses I use for eyewear whenever I am spending any time outdoors. Since sun protection, and in particular eye protection, is such an important topic, I figured I'd start a thread about it, as well as cross-post to the Cool Tools thread.

 

The sunglasses I wear and recommend are the Uvex S1933X Skyper ($8.99) and BluBlocker Viper ($32.95) - both available on Amazon. Here are photos of the two, with the Uvex on the left and BluBlocker on the right:

 

31NQRL2mxuL.jpg      Blublocker-Viper-Black.jpg

 

Here are my reasons for choosing them, and why I wear two different models of sunglasses.

 

First, what they have in common.

 

Both pairs block not only all the UV wavelengths (UVA & UVB), but also the shorter visible wavelengths as well - especially blue, and hence give everything an orangish tint. If you don't like that effect, you can stop reading now. I personally prefer blocking mostly blue and higher wavelengths, while letting through lower wavelengths (red, orange, yellow and some green), rather than attenuating all visible wavelengths about equally - the way most standard "dark" sunglasses do. I find these sorts of "blue blocker" sunglasses give the world a brighter (and hence, cheerier) illumination, while at the same time protecting my eyes from harmful UV radiation. Some people say blocking blue light in the evening helps them get to sleep easier (see Uvex Amazon reviews) - although I have no trouble falling asleep and I don't use these sunglasses indoors or in the evening for this purpose as some people with sleep troubles do.

 

To get a quantitative feel for how these two glasses compare with each other, and with a  "standard" pair of dark sunglasses that darken wavelengths across the board, here are the filter characteristics of the Uvex (left), Blublocker (middle) and a "standard" pair of high quality sunglasses, Maui Jim's (right), from this helpful website. Note - if the three images wrap for you, they'll be ordered vertically rather than horizontally:

 

MEtJs7z.png zk86PFe.png H205qhy.png

 

As you can see, from the text I've highlighted in yellow, the three sunglasses make the world appear 49%, 77% and 89% dimmer, respectively. It's also apparent from the graphs that the "standard" Maui Jim's let through some light from all the visible wavelengths, and even a little down towards the ultraviolet end of the spectrum, but not much - making everything look almost uniformly darker. In contrast, the Uvex and BluBlockers filter out nearly 100% of all wavelengths below green, giving everything a more yellow/orange/reddish tint. Finally, you can see the Uvex lets through significantly more green, yellow and orange than the BluBlocker, meaning they don't make the world look nearly as dark. 

 

Subjectively, the BluBlockers make the world seem about as dark as normal sunglasses like the Maui Jim's, but just with a more reddish-orange tint. They are therefore my choice to wear on days when the sun is very strong/bright. When it's a bit cloudy / hazy, I like to wear the Uvex because they don't make the world so dark and depressing.

 

The other thing to notice that both the Uvex and BluBlockers both have in common is the wraparound feature - they both protect the eye from stray light sneaking in through the sides where standard sunglasses often don't cover.

 

The nice feature about the Uvex that isn't readily apparent is the adjustability of the two "arms" - they can be made longer or shorter depending on the size of your head (specifically - how far back your ears are from the plane of your face), which is really nice, especially since I wear them when jogging and you can make them stay in place quite securely even without a strap. 

 

Finally, there is a big difference in price between the two - Uvex @ $8.99 and BluBlocker @ $32.95. But both of them are pretty inexpensive as sunglasses go - a comparable pair of "designer" Maui Jim's, but with regular lenses rather than blue blocking lenses) is around $200. 

 

One difference, and some would say potential shortcoming of both the Uvex and BluBlockers glasses is that they aren't polarized, while the Maui Jim's are.  Unlike my wife, my eyes aren't that sensitive to glare or bright sun - so I haven't felt the need for polarization. I'm more concerned about getting rid UV and not making the world look too dark, which both the Uvex and BluBlockers do well. But I'd be interested to hear what others say about the benefits of polarization. Here is one sunglasses expert discussing the pros and cons of polarization.

 

Finally, I won't characterize either pair as "stylish". The Uvex look more like safety glasses (which they are!) and the Blu Blockers bear somewhat of a resemblance to wraparound granny sunglasses. They aren't nearly that bad, but I won't try to fool anyone into thinking your friends and family will think you're cool wearing either pair. I wear them for their functionality, rather than style.

 

Anyway, those are my $0.02 on sunglasses. I curious to hear what others chose for their sunglasses.

 

--Dean

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Nice writeup. One question/consideration: what about corrective lenses? As people get older, the need for corrective lenses becomes greater. Most (all?) contacts come with UV filters built in, though that doesn't help with incident or sideways (to the eyeball) UV radiation. But if you wear conventional corrective eyeglasses, that is a whole other ballgame. Again most have uv protection built in, and you can get photochromic lenses, but those are imperfect in many ways. Some people use "clip-on" lenses that go over the corrective eyeglasses. Bottom line, the glasses Dean linked to are only an option for a person who needs vision correction, if they wear contacts.   

Edited by TomBAvoider

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Tom,

 

Very good points. Yes - I wear corrective contact lenses. And no not all contact lenses have built in UV protection. I wear these Acuvue lenses, which do block UV, and which was one of the reasons I picked them. Unfortunately many other popular brands do not. Here is a graph of UV protection for popular brands of contacts. It is from Acuvue, so you may want to check with your own brand for yourself to verify whether or not they have UV protection:

 

charts-oasys-uv.jpg

Below is a video (also from Acuvue) about the importance of UV eye protection, and UV-blocking contacts.

 

Finally, a minor clarification - although I know what you meant when you said:

Bottom line, the glasses Dean linked to are only an option for a person who needs vision correction, if they wear contacts.  

the meaning is somewhat ambiguous. A better way to put it is:

 

"If you need vision correction, the glasses Dean linked to are only an option if you wear contacts", since neither of the models of sunglasses I recommend above are designed to fit over corrective eyeglasses.

 

--Dean

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4nBSPYYayw

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As the joke goes "read the small print" - and in that rousing ad for Acuvue contact lenses, they include a warning at the end (that goes by in a flash, but you can stop the frame). The first of two sentences read:

 

"WARNING: UV-absorbing contact lenses are NOT substitutes for protective UV-absorbing eyewear such as UV-absorbing goggles or sunglasses because they do not completely cover the eye and surrounding area. You should continue to use UV-absorbing eyewear as directed."

 

My wife wears Acuvue contacts and I've sensitized her to the UV-protection being limited. But she also points out that for some people style is important - even at the cost of some minor health compromise, and some very stylish sunglasses don't offer as much protection from the sides as they should... this is an especial problem for young folks who cannot imagine they'll ever be old :)... But maybe Dean is particularly convincing when he talks to his children about the importance of UV-protection of the eyes :) - I doubt they'd wear orange dork-glasses of their own free will, and yet, UV damage is cumulative and can be even more pronounced in the young (same for skin).

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Thanks Dean - those are tremendous graphs and a great write up.

 

I will vouch for the UVEX brand (orange) safety-style glasses.  Not only inexpensive, but compared to other brands (not listed above), they knock out blue. E.g., blue LEDs turn nearly invisible. A color sample of blue on paper makes the blue nearly indistinguishable from black.  When driving, the flashing red and blue lights from police mostly look just like a red light. It's a little bit surreal. Also, green turn signals are faded often substantially (however the yellows/reds stand out from a greater distance and really catch your eye).

 

Biologically, perhaps it's like having dichromatic (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dichromacy) vision.

 

 

FOLLOWUP QUESTION:

 

 

Yes - I wear corrective contact lenses. And no not all contact lenses have built in UV protection. I wear these Acuvue lenses, which do block UV, and which was one of the reasons I picked them. Unfortunately many other popular brands do not. Here is a graph of UV protection for popular brands of contacts. It is from Acuvue, so you may want to check with your own brand for yourself to verify whether or not they have UV protection:

 

Is there a substantial premium (in price) for these, special order, and do they dim light in the visible ranges?  Thanks.

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Tim,

 

Is there a substantial premium (in price) for these, special order, and do they dim light in the visible ranges?  Thanks.

 

No, No, and No.

 

The Acuvue contacts are no more expensive than other brands without UV protection. They aren't special order or anything like that. And they are perfectly clear (don't change eye color) and they don't perceptibly change the brightness or color of objects as seen in the world. 

 

--Dean

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All,

 

For anyone who likes the price of the Uvex sunglasses I posted about above, but would like a darker lens, Uvex also makes the S1623 Bandit model, which is $10 on Amazon. I have a pair of these too, and they are very nice, a lot darker, and a bit more stylish than the lighter Uvex model above:

 

31J-Rbb-znL.jpg

 

They feature the same adjustable arm length as the other Uvex pair, making it easy to make sure they fit snugly and stably.

 

--Dean

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Just a reminder - car windows don't always do a good job of filtering UV, especially side windows, especially UV-A. In the U.S. rates of skin cancer on the left side of the face/arms (driver), as well as left eye cataracts are elevated due to spending a lot of time in cars, where the side windows don't provide enough protection. So, even if you are driving, you should be conscious of applying UV protection to your skin and eyes.

 

Assessment of Levels of Ultraviolet A Light Protection in Automobile Windshields and Side Windows

 

Brian S. Boxer Wachler, MD1
JAMA Ophthalmol. Published online May 12, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2016.1139
 

 

Importance  

 

Ultraviolet A (UV-A) light is associated with the risks of cataract and skin cancer.

 

Objective  

 

To assess the level of UV-A light protection in the front windshields and side windows of automobiles.

 

Design  

 

In this cross-sectional study, 29 automobiles from 15 automobile manufacturers were analyzed. The outside ambient UV-A radiation, along with UV-A radiation behind the front windshield and behind the driver’s side window of all automobiles, was measured. The years of the automobiles ranged from 1990 to 2014, with an average year of 2010. The automobile dealerships were located in Los Angeles, California.

 

Main Outcomes and Measures  

 

Amount of UV-A blockage from windshields and side windows. The average percentage of front-windshield UV-A blockage was 96% (range, 95%-98% [95% CI, 95.7%-96.3%]) and was higher than the average percentage of side-window blockage, which was 71% (range, 44%-96% [95% CI, 66.4%-75.6%]). The difference between these average percentages is 25% (95% CI, 21%-30% [P < .001]). A high level of side-window UV-A blockage (>90%) was found in 4 of 29 automobiles (13.8%).

 

Conclusions and Relevance  

 

The level of front-windshield UV-A protection was consistently high among automobiles. The level of side-window UV-A protection was lower and highly variable. These results may in part explain the reported increased rates of cataract in left eyes and left-sided facial skin cancer. Automakers may wish to consider increasing the degree of UV-A protection in the side windows of automobiles.

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