Do Prescription Glasses Protect Eyes?

Last Updated on September 14, 2023 by Ash Salleh

Prescription glasses are, first and foremost, designed to correct an individual’s vision. Whether you’re nearsighted, farsighted, or need help reading the fine print, these glasses serve as an essential tool for many in their daily lives. However, beyond this primary function, prescription glasses offer a range of secondary benefits, particularly when it comes to eye protection.

1. Correcting Vision:

When people think of prescription glasses, the first thing that often comes to mind is vision correction. Glasses can:

Compensate for Refractive Errors: Whether it’s myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism, or presbyopia, prescription glasses help to focus light correctly onto the retina. This ensures that you can see the world around you clearly and accurately.

Enhance Depth Perception: For those with significant refractive errors in one eye more than the other, glasses can help balance the vision between both eyes, assisting in better depth perception and spatial awareness.

Reduce Eye Strain: Uncorrected vision can cause the eyes to strain, leading to symptoms like headaches, blurred vision, and fatigue. Prescription glasses alleviate this strain, allowing for more comfortable and sustained vision.

2. Secondary Benefits: Protection and Beyond:

Beyond the realm of vision correction, prescription glasses can offer:

Physical Barrier: Glasses naturally serve as a barrier against environmental elements, such as dust, wind, and debris. This can be particularly beneficial for those who find themselves in environments where these elements are prevalent.

Special Coatings: Many modern prescription glasses come with coatings that can resist smudges, repel water, and even protect against scratches, extending the lifespan of the lenses and ensuring clear vision.

Potential for Enhanced Protection: As we’ll delve into further in this article, prescription glasses can come with built-in protection against harmful UV rays and blue light, depending on the type of lens and coatings chosen.

While the primary role of prescription glasses is undeniably centered around correcting vision, they inherently provide a level of protection to our eyes. Moreover, with the advancements in lens technology and the availability of special coatings, the protective potential of prescription glasses has never been greater.

UV Protection in Prescription Lenses

The sun, while essential for life, emits ultraviolet (UV) radiation that can be harmful to our eyes if they’re exposed to it excessively. Prescription glasses, when equipped with the right features, can serve as a shield against these harmful rays. But how effective are they, and how do they compare with sunglasses?

1. Importance of UV Protection for the Eyes:

Risks of UV Exposure: Long-term exposure to UV radiation can lead to various eye conditions. Cataracts, which is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, is strongly linked to UV exposure. Other conditions include macular degeneration (a leading cause of vision loss), pterygium (a growth on the white of the eye), and photokeratitis (essentially a sunburn of the cornea).

Benefits of Blocking UV Rays: By shielding your eyes from UV rays, you not only reduce the risk of these conditions but also prevent premature aging of the eyes and skin around them. This means healthier eyes and clearer vision for longer.

2. Standard UV Protection in Prescription Glasses:

Built-in Protection: Many high-quality prescription lenses come with built-in UV protection. This means the material itself has properties that block UV rays from passing through and reaching your eyes.

Coating Enhancements: For added protection, some lenses are available with a special UV-blocking coating. This ensures almost 100% blockage of both UVA and UVB rays, the two primary types of UV radiation that can harm our eyes.

3. How UV Protection in Prescription Glasses Compares to Sunglasses:

Degree of Protection: While many prescription lenses offer excellent UV protection, sunglasses—especially those labeled as “UV400″—are designed to block up to 400 nanometers, encompassing all UVA and UVB rays. This makes them particularly effective against UV radiation.

Coverage: Sunglasses typically have larger and more wraparound designs, providing more comprehensive coverage against indirect UV radiation coming from the sides.

Tint vs. Protection: It’s essential to note that the darkness of a lens doesn’t correlate with its UV protection level. Clear prescription lenses can offer as much UV protection as dark sunglasses, depending on their material and coatings.

Blue Light Protection

In our modern digital age, screens are an integral part of our daily lives. From smartphones to laptops to LED lights, blue light emissions are everywhere. While they play a critical role in our tech-driven lifestyle, the effects of prolonged exposure to blue light on our eyes are a growing concern.

1. Introduction to Blue Light: Sources and Concerns:

What is Blue Light? Blue light is a part of the visible light spectrum, with a wavelength between 400 and 495 nanometers. It’s closest to UV light on the spectrum, and it’s emitted by the sun, LED lights, and, most notably, digital screens.

Digital Devices and Blue Light Exposure: Our frequent use of smartphones, tablets, computers, and TVs means that we are exposed to a significant amount of blue light daily, often for prolonged periods.

Potential Risks of Excessive Blue Light: While research is ongoing, excessive exposure to blue light has been linked to digital eye strain, sleep disturbances (by suppressing melatonin production), and potential retinal damage.

2. Prescription Glasses with Blue Light Filtering Features:

Blue Light Lenses: Many eyewear brands now offer lenses specifically designed to filter out a percentage of blue light. These lenses often have a slight yellow tint or a special coating that helps reduce blue light penetration.

How They Work: Blue light filtering glasses absorb or block a portion of blue light emissions, thus reducing the amount that reaches the eyes. This is achieved either through the lens material itself or with specialized coatings.

Effectiveness: Many users report reduced eye strain, less visual fatigue, and improved sleep quality when using blue light glasses, especially during extended screen time.

3. The Effectiveness of Blue Light Filtering Lenses:

Subjective Benefits: Many individuals who have switched to blue light filtering prescription glasses report a noticeable decrease in eye discomfort and fatigue, especially after long periods of screen usage.

Research Insights: Scientific findings on the benefits of blue light filtering lenses are mixed. Some studies affirm their effectiveness in reducing eye strain and improving sleep quality, while others suggest that the benefits might be more perceived than actual. However, the consensus is that they certainly won’t harm and may provide comfort for many.

The jury is still out on the full range of blue light’s effects on our eyes, there’s no denying the comfort and potential benefits that blue light filtering prescription glasses bring to the table. If you’re someone who spends significant hours in front of screens, it might be worth considering adding blue light protection to your next pair of glasses.

Impact Resistance and Prescription Glasses

We often focus on the optical clarity of our glasses, but their ability to resist impact is an essential aspect that shouldn’t be overlooked. Not only does this quality protect the investment you’ve made in your eyewear, but it can also prevent potential injuries.

1. The Dangers of Shattering or Cracking Lenses:

Potential for Injury: Lenses that shatter or crack can lead to eye or facial injuries. This is especially concerning for those involved in sports, outdoor activities, or certain professions where the chances of facial impact are higher.

Vision Compromise: Cracked or shattered lenses can severely impair vision, making daily tasks difficult and even dangerous, especially when driving or operating machinery.

Cost Implications: Continually replacing damaged lenses can become an expensive endeavor over time.

2. Prescription Lenses and Their Resistance to Impact:

Standard Lenses: Traditional glass lenses, while offering excellent clarity, are more prone to shattering upon impact. On the other hand, standard plastic lenses are less likely to shatter but can still crack or scratch under force.

Polycarbonate & Trivex Lenses: These materials are heralded for their impact resistance. Originally developed for aviation windshields and then adopted for astronaut helmet visors, polycarbonate lenses are lighter and up to 10 times more impact-resistant than standard plastic or glass lenses. Trivex lenses, while slightly thicker than polycarbonate, offer similar levels of impact resistance but with better optical clarity.

High-Index Lenses: These lenses, known for their thinness, are not as impact-resistant as polycarbonate or Trivex but still offer better resistance than standard glass lenses.

3. Materials Used for Prescription Lenses and Their Durability:

Coatings and Treatments: Apart from the material of the lens itself, certain coatings can enhance a lens’s durability. Scratch-resistant coatings, for instance, protect lenses from everyday wear and tear, preserving both their clarity and impact resistance.

Lens Thickness and Shape: Thicker lenses, often prescribed for higher refractive errors, might offer slightly better resistance to cracking. Also, the shape and design of the lens, especially in wraparound styles, can influence its resilience.

Tips for Enhancing the Protection of Your Prescription Glasses

Once you’ve understood the importance of protection that prescription glasses offer, it’s time to delve into ways you can enhance this protection. Your glasses don’t just help you see better; with the right choices, they can offer an additional shield against various elements, ensuring your eyes remain healthy and safe.

1. Opting for Anti-Reflective Coatings:

What is It? Anti-reflective (AR) coatings are thin multilayer coatings applied to the surface of your lenses, reducing the amount of glare and reflections on them.

Benefits: AR coatings not only improve the cosmetic appearance of your glasses but also enhance visual comfort. They allow more light to pass through the lens, reducing eye strain, especially during nighttime driving or prolonged computer use.

Protection Aspect: By reducing glare, AR coatings can improve your vision in high-glare environments, ensuring you see clearer and reducing the chances of potential hazards.

2. Choosing Polycarbonate or Trivex Lenses for Greater Impact Resistance:

Strength and Durability: As previously mentioned, polycarbonate and Trivex lenses are renowned for their impact resistance. These materials are ideal for children’s glasses, sports eyewear, and safety glasses.

UV Protection: An added benefit of these materials is that they inherently block 100% of the sun’s harmful UV rays without the need for an added coating.

3. Ensuring a Proper Fit for Maximum Protection and Comfort:

The Role of the Frame: A well-fitted frame can protect your eyes from debris and direct airflow away from the eyes. Wraparound styles or larger frames can offer more comprehensive coverage.

Professional Fittings: It’s vital to get your glasses fitted by a professional. A proper fit ensures that your glasses sit comfortably on your nose, don’t slide down, and provide optimal vision correction and protection.

Adjustments Over Time: Our frames may loosen or change shape due to wear and tear. Regular checks and adjustments ensure that your glasses continue to fit perfectly and offer the maximum protection possible.

4. Considering Add-on Lens Treatments:

UV Protective Coating: Even if your lens material doesn’t inherently block UV rays, you can add a UV protective coating to shield your eyes from harmful radiation.

Blue Light Filtering: As discussed earlier, if you spend significant hours in front of screens, considering a blue light filter can reduce potential eye strain.

Conclusion:

Your prescription glasses are more than just a vision-correcting tool. They are a frontline defense against various external elements that could harm your eyes. By making informed choices about the materials, coatings, and fit, you can ensure you’re getting the most protection out of your pair. Always consult with your optometrist or eyewear specialist to make the best decisions for your individual needs.