Ultraviolet Light is High Energy Light

Calgary is the sunniest of all the major cities in Canada. Over half of Calgary’s total daylight hours (2396 on average per year) are hours of sunshine. Since that sun is spread out over 333 days per year (more than any other city in Alberta) there’s a lot of opportunity for us to get outside and enjoy Calgary’s sunshine in the summer and throughout the winter. When we are outside, it’s important to protect our eyes, and not just our skin, from UV light by wearing glasses with UV blocking.  

Ultraviolet (or UV) light is invisible, but it carries a high amount of energy. So much energy, in fact, that it can cause a sunburn. Did you know that the same UV light energy that causes sunburns can also damage the eyes?  

When our eyes are exposed to the bright Calgary sunshine, they feel the energy contained in the UV light and become sensitive. Photosensitivity, or light sensitivity, makes us feel as though we want to close our eyes or shade them from all that extra light energy. We naturally reach for dark sunglasses when our eyes feel this way. Dark colours help, but for your sunglasses to decrease your light sensitivity, they must eliminate your exposure to UV light. Thankfully, UV blocking coatings and materials are available for both prescription and non-prescription sunglasses.  

UV blocking coatings and materials have greatly improved over time. In Dr. Doig’s opinion, “UV blocking lenses are better now at blocking ultraviolet light and they are much clearer. When I started my career in eyecare, there was a yellow tinge to all lenses that blocked ultraviolet light. That’s why such lenses weren’t used much in our clear prescription glasses.”  In the past, UV blocking materials were more commonly used only in sunglasses, where the yellow tinge didn’t matter. There would be a dark tint added over the UV block anyway, hiding the yellow tinge. Today, UV blocking coatings and materials can be so clear that one major lens supplier now includes their UV block on all their prescription and non-prescription lenses as a basic feature. Dr. Chorel and Dr. Doig are very excited about this recent news (May 2018).

“As your eye doctor, I’m most concerned that your sunglasses protect you against damage that can come from UV light in the form of cataracts, macular degeneration and even cancer of the eye,” says Dr. Doig. That’s why all the sunglasses sold at Doig Optometry are UV blocking. “That’s also why contact lens users should wear UV blocking sunglasses. Even contact lenses that block UV light don’t provide protection for the conjunctiva (the white of the eye), the eyelids, or the skin around the eyes.” These are obviously places where we don’t put sunscreen.  

Dr. Doig makes one other recommendation when it comes to UV light: “Since UV light from behind you is reflected off the surface of your sunglasses and back towards your eyes, it’s a good idea to put an anti-reflective coating on the back side of your sunglass lenses.”  That way, the UV light coming from behind you will absorbed by your UV blocking lenses without reflection.

Do you have the right lenses to protect you from the UV light in our bright Calgary sunshine? Doig Optometry provides UV blocking clear eyeglasses and UV blocking sunglasses with or without prescription. To learn more about our sunglass brands and to book an appointment, please call us at 403-333-3353 today

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