christmas articles


Risky Business
By: Allison B., Westgate CVI, Thunder Bay, ON

Imagine a dry, porous piece of tree bark. Put two small slits about four centimetres apart in the middle and tie a piece of string to each end. Now, tie this to your face and voila! Instant sunglasses.

Alright, so a few things have changed since centuries ago when au naturel shades were a necessity of arctic trappers and explorers. Today, the archaic version has been updated, and with just cause. As more than just a fashion accessory, sunglasses are worn for their comfort practicality.

Ophthalmologists (medical eye doctors) have enlightened us to the other benefits of wearing shades. Studies show that they can actually help to protect the long-term health of your eyes and prevent your precious peepers from eye diseases like cataracts.

Cataracts is a fairly common eye disease associated with age, as well as prolonged exposure to sunlight over a period of years. The latter is highly preventable. It occurs when sunlight infiltrates the eye and causes a clouding of the eye’s natural lens.

Approximately one million Americans have cataract surgery every year. The procedure involves surgically removing the eye’s natural lens, which leaves it extremely vulnerable to UV — ultraviolet light. Each ray of light is like a searing ball of flame plummeting into your eye sockets with lightning ferocity. Sound frightening? The natural lens is then replaced by an intralobular lens (IOL), which are intended to absorb much of the harmful UV light.

In light of the recent influx of Cataracts and other diseases of this nature over the last several decades, manufacturers have developed new and improved sunglasses designed to look good and protect you from the sun’s damaging rays. While most claims are legitimate, it is important to be able to differentiate between false claims and the real deal.

A good pair of sunglasses should block between 99 and 100% of harmful ultraviolet rays. Also defined by UV, ultraviolet light is one of the most lethal of its kind. This feature can also be labelled as “UV absorption up to 400nm.” Be cautious of companies that lay claims of “infrared ray”protection. While sunlight contains low levels of infrared heat producing rays, the eye is actually quite tolerant of these rays and they should not be the basis of protection.

Polarized sunglasses are great for people with sensitive eyes. They are intended to cut out reflection or glare that is bounced into your field of vision off of smooth water and road surfaces which makes them ideal for fishing and driving. A good pair of polarized shades will put a minor dent in your wallet, but they are worth it. However, do not confuse mirrored shades for polarized ones. While mirror coatings do absorb more light than those without, they do not block the same type of glare.

Gradient lenses offer another breakthrough feature to today’s shades. These uniquely designed lenses are made with a dark shading from either top to bottom, or from top and bottom gradually moving towards the centre. This design blocks bright glare from either the sky, or the ground. This is perfect for skiing or water sports which involve glare from two directions.

Photochromatic lenses may sound space-age but they’re great for everyday use. These specially made lenses automatically lighten when exposed to low light conditions and darken in bright light situations. Many come in either uniform or gradient tints. Unfortunately, photochromatic lenses are only available in glass, which is more expensive.

The actual lens material is crucial to the performance of your shades. While glass lenses are more scratch resistant and provide distortion-free vision, they are breakable, more expensive, and heavier than other lens types. Polycarbonate lenses are ideal for sport activities as they are shatter-proof and light-weight. However, they do scratch a lot easier and some cheaper brands are prone to distortion. The third and final most common lens material is known as CR-39. This is basically a plastic material that is intended for fashion purposes. These lenses scratch very easily and are not shatter-proof. In addition, the UV protection is usually applied in films or coatings on these lenses that eventually scratch off. The advantage is that they are inexpensive and they allow you to wear the style that is cool at the moment without breaking the bank.

Whether you choose sporty wraparounds or vintage wing-tips, sunglasses are an asset when you go outside. No matter what the season, shades will protect you from disease and wrinkles, and make you look fashionable too. So next time you go outside on a sunny day, opt for Tom Cruise’s look instead of Clint Eastwood’s and don a pair of shades — your eyes will thank you.”.

Back to Front Page

Back to News Headlines