Prescription sunglasses said to shield against ultra-violet rays Plastic lenses, available here, help protect the user against cataracts.

May 02, 1991|By Sue Miller | Sue Miller,Evening Sun Staff

New prescription sunglasses that offer 100 percent protection against harmful ultraviolet-B (UVB) rays and "never wear out" are now available in Baltimore, says Marian Welling of the University of Missouri, St. Louis, School of Optometry.

Scientific evidence, reported recently by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine ophthalmologists, has shown that UVB radiation from the sun can cause cataracts, a clouding of the lens of the eye that can lead to blindness.

The study of 838 Chesapeake Bay watermen determined there is no such thing as a safe amount of UVB radiation. According to Dr. Hugh R. Taylor, the principal investigator, if there is enough sunshine to get sunburned, people -- young and old alike -- need to protect their eyes.

"Many other sunglasses do not give this permanent UVB protection and the peace of mind that indoors or out you are being shielded from ultraviolet rays," Welling said this week while in Baltimore to introduce Transitions Comfort Lenses. "And, these are the first plastic lenses that change colors with brightness."

They're sunglasses "that you wear all the time," she further said. Indoors, the lenses have a light blush tint that is very helpful in coping with glare, particularly on computer screens. Outdoors they darken, adjusting to the intensity of the light.

The plastic lens that is used is more than 50 percent lighter than a glass lens and safer because it serves as a protective barrier to the eye. The lens also is scratch-resistant.

"It's a lot more impact resistant so you feel a lot more comfortable doing more active type things, such as mowing a lawn or gardening," the St. Louis optician said in an interview at Stauffer's Harborplace. "It's very difficult for a flying object to break a plastic lens."

Transitions Comfort Lenses sell for about $30 more than the average pair of sunglasses, which costs about $75 to $100. But, for those who have undergone cataract surgery, the cost will be about double the price charged for cataract glasses, Welling said.

According to a survey done by Creamer, Dickson and Basford, a public relations firm hired by Transitions Optical Inc., about 60 percent of Baltimore residents wear corrective or prescription lenses and of those, a little more than 70 percent are buying plastic lenses.

These are the people that Welling and Dr. Richard C. Edlow, president of the Maryland Chapter of the American Optometric Association, said they think would be interested in Transitions Comfort Lenses.

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