It is important to protect your eyes from blue and ultraviolet (UV) light all year round, not just in the summer. There are three types of ultraviolet radiation (UVR): A, B and C. UVC is generally blocked by the earth’s atmosphere, however, 90% of UVA and UVB reaches us.
Most people are aware of the damage UV light can do to the skin, but not to the eyes. Wearing sunglasses and a broad brimmed hat or cap helps to protect your eyes. When choosing sunglasses, look for a European CE mark or British Standard BSEN 1836:2005 to ensure good quality lenses. Lenses with insufficient UV protection are more harmful than not wearing sunglasses at all. Around 80% of damage from UV and blue light occurs before the age of 18, so it’s important children also wear hats and sunglasses.
Close-fitting or wraparound frames stop more sunlight getting to your eyes. Alternatively an ‘overshield’, with built-in sides and brow shields, can offer a lot of protection. Clear UV filters can also be added to ordinary prescription spectacles and even contact lenses.
Blue light is responsible for the haze on a bright, sunny day. It increases dazzle, glare and blur for some people with macular conditions. Many people with macular conditions find that dark lenses reduce their level of vision. Blue blocking lenses reduce glare without making everything darker. Blue light tends to make images hazier, so blue blockers sharpen images and improve contrast. Blue blocking lenses are usually yellow or orange, although other tints can be added to improve their appearance. Some people use paler, yellow lenses for indoor use because they work well in artificial light and darker lenses outside. The lenses can be ordered from many mail order companies, low vision services, sensory impairment teams and resource centres for visually impaired people.
Coping with glare
Some people find that bright white paper can cause glare when they are reading. To overcome this you could try using transparent plastic ‘overlay’ sheets (your optician or low vision specialist can help you find the best colour for you) or using a typoscope. To reduce computer screen glare look for the ‘alternative view’ settings to change to a yellow background with black text, a black background with yellow text or a black background with white text. Lighting at home should be bright but even to help with glare.