Sunglasses protect eyes - as well as image

July 14, 1992|By Anthony Giorgianni | Anthony Giorgianni,The Hartford Courant

They have been accessories of the famous and rich, Secret Service agents, cool dudes and even saxophone-playing presidential candidates.

protection. Many low-cost sunglasses work just fine, medical experts and industry representatives say.

In fact, for those wearing prescription eyeglasses, there's a good chance their clear lenses -- especially if they are plastic -- are screening out most of UV.

Contact lenses also filter out a substantial amount of UV light, but because they cover only the cornea, contact-lens wearers should consider sunglasses, especially for comfort, said Thomas Loomis, technical director of the Sunglass Association of America in Norwalk, Conn.

Comfort is the biggest benefit from sunglasses, which block out as much as 97 percent of visible light, thus reducing squinting and eyestrain and preventing headaches and fatigue. By reducing glare, sunglasses can help you see better.

"The sunglass per se is really for a cosmetic or comfort factor to decrease the amount of light so you don't squint and don't make the eye more sensitive," Dr. Donshik said.

It is not the tint that blocks out UV light, but a variety of substances, such as titanium oxide. They allow visible light to pass through while absorbing short-wave ultraviolet radiation, which the eye cannot see. The tint blocks visible light.

Because ultraviolet blockers are invisible, eyeglass and sunglass wearers cannot be sure if they are adequately protected unless their lenses are tested with a machine that measures ultraviolet light.

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