Blue Blocking Sunglasses

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Eyewear Recommendations: Blue Blocking Sunglasses

We are frequently asked for a recommendation regarding sunglasses. Research has strongly suggested that the wavelengths to filter out are in the ultraviolet and blue portion of the sun's spectrum.

The leading cause of blindness in the population over the age of seventy is Age Related Macular Degeneration. It is felt that cumulative exposure to these wavelengths is a strong contributor to this malady. Evidence is based on the description of blue light hazard by Dr. Ham several years ago. For the same amounts of photon-energy, blue and ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths  have a much larger potential to do damage to the retina than the green and red portions of the spectrum.

The final common denominator is the production of highly reactive oxygen, hydroxyl, and peroxy free radicals. This happens with exposure to UV wavelengths and in other processes such as injury or inflammation. The end result is to deconjugate, or break down, the double bonds in membrane lipid molecules. The retinal photoreceptors (rods and cones) have a high concentration in these molecules.

From a nutritional point of view, this is the basis for our recommendation to take supplemental amounts of the anti-oxidant vitamins and flaxseed oil as well as to eat green, leafy vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, spinach, kale, and broccoli.

There is also a large volume of evidence to show that cataract (a clouding of the crystalline lens of the eye) is due, in great extent, to the ultra-violet wavelengths, specifically ultraviolet A. This is also intuited from the concentration of vitamin C in the fluid that surrounds the lens, over thirteen times that of the blood plasma. One would expect that areas of the world that have greater exposures to ultraviolet light might have a higher incidence of cataracts. This has been shown to be true: as one gets closer to the equator the incidence goes up. In Tibet, where the average elevation is 15,000 feet, the incidence is very high. The incidence is higher in Tucson, AZ, where the photon count is higher, than in Rochester, NY.

As a result of these studies, we recommend blue-blocking and ultraviolet filtering sunglasses. A pure blue blocker is an amber or orange color. This tends to distort colors, as one would expect--mainly greens and reds. To counter this effect, some sun-glasses are made with acceptable compromises. Some brands are: Serengeti, Bolle, Varnet, and Oakley.

Do not wear blue colored lenses as a method of blocking the sun; this is exactly opposite to what is protective, and may actually amplify ultra-violet wavelengths.

Dangerous Symptoms |  Refractive Surgery |  Site Map | Meet Our Doctors  |  Map 

 Home | Patient Education | Patient Instructions | Laser FAQ | Cataract FAQ | About Our Doctors
Pfoff Laser and Eye, 6881 South Yosemite Street | Centennial, Colorado 80112 | 303-588-7900|