Breakthroughs in lens design and technology have transformed the eyeglass industry, improving the science of vision correction and introducing a world of new options for thinner, lighter, and more aesthetically pleasing lenses.
Single-vision lenses, which have the same prescription throughout, are most commonly prescribed for people with:
- Nearsightedness – characterized by the ability to see objects that are nearby clearly, while objects further away appear blurry.
- Farsightedness – characterized by the inability to clearly see objects nearby.
- Astigmatism – a very common, correctable vision condition resulting in blurred vision at any distance
Multi-focal lenses, which are lenses with two or more prescriptions, correct more than one vision problem, improving the wearer’s vision at varying distances. Examples of these types of lenses include bifocals, trifocals and progressives.
Reading glasses improve your vision for objects that are close by, such as books and papers, by magnifying these objects. Reading glasses or “readers” are widely available, both with a prescription and over the counter. You can purchase readers from your eye care provider’s office and also at drugstores, supermarkets, online and at other retail outlets. Readers come in many styles, shapes, and colors, and are a fun way to experiment with your look without spending a lot of money. Reading glasses can also be custom-made and fit for comfort.
Readers are ideal for someone who needs vision correction while reading newsprint or books, fine print or menus. They are also ideal for near distance tasks such as crossword puzzles, needlepoint, or other hobbies that require attention to detail at a close range. Half-eye readers allow you to look down through the lenses to read, and up and over the lens to see at a distance. An alternative to half-eye readers, although not as popular, are full-frame reading glasses which cover your whole field of vision and need to be removed to see clearly in the distance. They do not differ from half-eye readers except for their shape.
As they age, many adults turn to reading glasses because they are experiencing the signs of presbyopia. As your eyes get older, their lenses gradually lose their ability to flex, making focusing on close objects, such as a page of a book, a newspaper, or a menu, difficult. It is a natural sign of aging and cannot be prevented, but it can be corrected through the use of reading glasses. Most people notice signs of presbyopia in their late 40s and early 50s.
Office work often requires a specialized field of view, one that remains sharp at near and intermediate distances. Progressive lenses can improve focus while working at a computer, reading, or handling paperwork. While in front of a computer monitor, these glasses help reduce headaches, correct blurry vision, and may even increase productivity. Additionally, a no-glare coating on the lenses will help combat eye strain by softening the glare from harsh office lighting.
Low Vision Devices
Low vision devices are available only from a low vision specialist and cannot be ordered online or purchased over the counter. Their use requires guidance and training from an eye care professional to ensure that the device is serving its full and intended purpose. Patients with low vision can maximize their remaining vision and develop strategies that lead to a more independent lifestyle through the use of low vision devices. The main principles behind low vision devices are to enhance contrast, control glare, and magnify objects using various tools.
Most people with low vision use multiple low vision aids because each is designed to serve a very specific purpose. Low vision aids fall into the following categories: near-vision magnification, intermediate magnification, distance-vision magnification, and optical filters.
|Near-vision magnification||Used for improving sight of objects close by, within 20 inches, such as newsprint and crossword puzzles.
|Intermediate magnification||Used for improving vision involving tasks performed at arm’s length, between 20 and 40 inches, such as working on crafts or playing board games.|
Used for improving sight beyond six feet, such as watching a movie or riding a bicycle.
The sun emits UV rays, and unprotected, prolonged exposure to these rays can cause serious vision problems. One simple solution to maintaining healthy vision is to use UV protective eyewear, such as sunglasses, no matter the season, location or activity. In certain parts of the country, it is even more important to wear sunglasses because of the increased UV rays they receive. These “UV danger zones” represent an increased risk for exposure. Below is a map showing the top 25 U.S. cities with the highest UV concentration in 2016:
The Vision Council used data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Weather Service to map out the 25 U.S. cities with the highest UV concentration in 2015. More than 50 U.S. cities were analyzed for solar radiation strength, season, climatic conditions, ozone concentration, cloudiness and elevation. For daily UV index levels, visit The Vision Council’s website at www.missingsunglasses.com.
Whether wraparounds, rimless or studded with rhinestones, sunglasses are vital for shielding eyes from harmful UV rays and for diminishing glare that can cause distractions while driving, working, and playing.
There are two types of UV light – UVA and UVB rays. Unprotected, long-term exposure to either or both can lead to serious, debilitating vision problems. UVA and UVB rays reach the Earth’s surface in one of three ways: directly from the sun, scattered through the open sky or reflected off surrounding environments. Once these UV rays pass through the atmosphere, our bodies and eyes are exposed to them immediately. Sunglasses and other eyewear offering protection from bothUVA and UVAB rays will block UV radiation and shield the eyes. Whether you wear glasses or contacts, you also need to have sunglasses with lenses that are rated to filter UVA and UVB rays. Other lens options are also available based on personal preference, such as polarized lenses to prevent glare, or tints that offer more comfortable vision.
To learn more about how you can protect your eyes and vision from harmful UV rays, click here.
Several different types of sunglasses are available, depending on your needs and individual preferences.
Prescription sunglasses feature lenses that correct your vision and match the prescription provided by your eye care provider.
Non-prescription (plano) sunglasses are available at most retail outlets in a variety of styles, shapes, colors and price points to match every style and budget.
Larger frame sunglasses are an alternative to traditional sunglasses. Their increased size allows them to fit over prescription glasses.
Flip-up and clip-on sunglasses fasten to the top of frames for quick coverage in bright light. For maximum comfort, frames should fit securely on the face and head when pushed back. Look for spring-loaded hinges, which help glasses keep their shape, and full side-to-side coverage to restrict peripheral light.
Photochromic sunglasses or polarized lenses that adapt to different brightness levels and maximize visibility in low light or foggy conditions. Yellow, red and gray tints decrease distortion, whereas copper-tinted shades heighten contrast.
Different activities call for different types of sunglasses to ensure a comfortable fit and maximum protection from UV rays.
UV protection is a necessity at the beach and pool, where exposure to dangerous rays is higher, even on cloudy days. Designs that incorporate plastic and lightweight metal are sturdy and strong, yet completely comfortable during extended wear. To preserve a natural view, try green- and gray-hued lenses, which transmit colors evenly and reduce glare.
Sunglasses should be an important part of every driver’s routine. In the winter, glare from snow can be extremely distracting, while a sunny summer day can force you to squint. A car’s windshield offers little defense against UV light, making sun protection even more important when driving.
The most effective lenses for driving are photochromic lenses. The results – highway lines and traffic signals appear clearer, improving your reaction time behind the wheel.
The first consideration when it comes to eye protection during sports is to select and wear eye protection that is rated specifically to withstand the level of impact that is expected to be encountered in that particular sport. This recommended level of impact resistance will determine what kind of lens is most appropriate. The lens descriptions below provide more information and choices on the right lenses for both high-impact and low-impact sports:
In addition to protecting your eyes from impacts, many sports protection glasses also feature technology that blocks UV rays, providing an added element of protection from UV damage.
High-Impact: For high-impact sports, polycarbonate lenses coupled with nylon frames allow for optimal protection, even under extreme conditions. The combination is virtually shatterproof, but light enough for long wear. Nylon’s slight flexibility helps frames withstand pressure and conform to the wearer’s face.
Low Impact: For less intense activities, lenses that use glass or plastic provide more than adequate protection.
The sport you participate in will help you decide what type of sunglasses you need. To help you make that decision, read about specific sports below:
Lightweight construction, protection and comfort are essential features in protective eyewear. The best sunglasses and goggles for downhill skiing and snowboarding offer all three.
Sunglasses should provide maximum protection against UV rays, a danger on the slopes where light is magnified and reflected by snow. Look for polarized or mirror coatings and amber tints, which are easy on eyes, enhance contrast and minimize glare.
Some goggles can be customized with your prescription, eliminating the need to wear glasses underneath. For long-lasting comfort and reduced eye strain, choose pairs with a wide peripheral view and snug shape. Water-resistant padding will wick away moisture and prevent straps from irritating the scalp, while side vents keep lenses fog free. Frames with removable foam and temples offer the best of both worlds – the superior protection of goggles and unbeatable lightness of sunglasses.
Water sports buffs depend on lightweight sunwear with exceptional clarity. Non-slip materials like rubber temples keep glasses in place, even in extreme heat and wind. Frames that incorporate aluminum, stainless steel or titanium tend to have a slimmer profile and higher resistance to rust.
To shield eyes from wind, water and UV rays, sunglasses should provide ample face coverage. A wraparound design keeps frames from sliding while protective coatings block harmful light. Grip-tip or padded temples cushion the sensitive area above the ears for extended, headache-free wear.
Sunglasses specially made for fishing and boating are often polarized to curb glare and sharpen scenery. Yellow- and brown-tinted lenses boost contrast and depth perception to enhance your experience on the water.
Most swimming goggles have lenses that already include treatments that provide protection from UV rays. Goggles can even be made with lenses that match the wearer’s prescription needed for vision correction.
Road and mountain bikers rely on an unobstructed view of their path, especially during a speedy descent. Oversized wrap frames protect the delicate eye area from sunlight, wind, and debris, while reducing glare to a minimum. Frames that allow for interchangeable lenses enable you to use yellow tints in cloudy or wet conditions and darker brown or gray tints on sunny days, significantly improving your view of the road in any weather.
Shades that slip aren’t an option for cyclists who need full use of their hands at all times. Some frames are developed particularly for this purpose – the more you sweat, the better they grip. For added security and comfort, consider sunglasses with cable temples that hook around the bottom of the ear to keep frames in place.
UV protection is vital on any trek, but wilderness hikers often wander through shaded areas where sunglasses can be distracting. That’s where flip-up or clip-on sunglasses can be an excellent choice.
Rain or shine, winter or summer, running is a year-round outdoor sport. The right pair of performance sunglasses should offer a combination of UV protection and glare reduction.
To withstand the continual movement and jostling that occur while running, you’ll want to look for sunglasses that fit snugly and have lightweight frames. Non-slip nose pieces and temples are also must-haves to keep your eyewear in place.
Tennis, Softball, Baseball
When the heat is on, keep your focus on the field or court with sunglasses that don’t budge. Full-coverage wrap shades stay put, while silicone nose pads and cable temples prevent slippage on blazing summer days.
Even more important than preventing your shades from slipping is ensuring that the lens itself will hold up if a ball hits your face instead of your glove or racquet. Opt for high-impact-resistant lenses and flexible and durable frames, such as nylon.
Sunglasses with no-glare coatings repel water, oil and dirt to keep lenses from smudging. Frames should gently grip the face and allow air to circulate around the eyes. For better visual range, select pairs with extra space between the top of the frame and bridge.
Tinted sunglasses can improve performance by sharpening contrast and depth perception. Gray, brown and amber are helpful hues for field sports where judging distance is key.
Tennis and racquetball players often wear goggles for a wider field of view. To protect the face, goggles should be padded at the temples and bridge and secured firmly around the head with an elastic band.
Increase depth perception and detect the green’s subtle details with tinted sunglasses. The right shades, including amber or brown, will improve awareness of the course and help golfers track the ball. For the best results, lenses should deflect glare, while allowing enough light for a clear, extended view.
Extreme conditions call for serious protection. Sunwear should enhance and sharpen vision, never obstruct it.
High-grade ballistic glasses are designed to withstand particularly harsh conditions. A curved profile improves visibility from any angle and protects eyes from fragments, dust and dirt.
Shooting glasses feature shatterproof polycarbonate lenses that are typically clear, red, yellow, or orange. These tints boost contrast to distinguish the shooter’s target.
Most military and shooting goggles feature interchangeable lens systems. Wearers should be able to quickly swap lenses when light conditions change. Vented goggles promote air flow and a foam lining cushions the face for a secure, comfortable fit, even under a helmet.
Any eye protection device worn for shooting should meet the ANSI Z87 standard for safety. This standard ensures that eyewear meets the proper requirements for protection, fit, durability and comfort.
Protection from the Sun
It is essential to protect your eyes outdoors—whether you are out for a short walk or spending an entire afternoon at the park. Polarized, photochromic, and tinted lenses with UV-blocking treatment – shield eyes from the sun and prevent damage caused by UV light.
Most, but not all, photochromic lenses block UV rays and also transition quickly from clear to dark when exposed to natural light, making it more comfortable for your eyes. Polarized lenses reduce surface glare from water, snow, and roadways, and are ideal for anyone spending a lot of time outdoors. A no-glare treatment applied to the back of sunglass lenses will also eliminate bright reflections when the sun is behind you.
Learn more about choosing the right pair of sunglasses
Eye protection is vital during any sport. Whether you participate in a fast-paced game like racquetball, or prefer an outdoor activity such as skiing, proper eyewear can boost your performance and prevent injuries. Wear appropriate, sport-specific protective eyewear that fits properly. Here are some helpful tips to consider when choosing protective eyewear:
- All protective eyewear should meet American Standards for Testing and Materials’ (ASTM) impact standards.
- Lenses should be made from polycarbonate materials. They provide the highest level of protection and can withstand the impact from a ball or other projectiles traveling at 90 miles per hour.
- Everyday fashion or corrective eyewear does not offer the same protection as protective eyewear labeled for sport use. For example, on impact, the lenses in regular eyeglasses can easily pop out and puncture or cut the eye. Or, a frame damaged by impact could also cause injury.
- Protective eyewear can be purchased at sporting goods stores as well as at eye care providers’ offices.
Review the list of sports below to help you choose the best options for protecting your eyes while engaged in that sport:
- Badminton (sports goggles)
- Baseball (batting: face guard attached to helmet; fielding: sports goggles)
- Basketball (sports goggles)
- Cycling (cycling eyewear)
- Fencing (full face cage)
- Field hockey (goalie: face mask; others: sports goggles)
- Football (face shield attached to helmet)
- Handball (sports goggles)
- Ice hockey (helmet with full face protection)
- Lacrosse — men (helmet and full face protection)
- Lacrosse — women (minimum: sports goggles; recommended: helmet and full face protection)
- Racquetball (sports goggles)
- Shooting sports (shooting glasses)
- Soccer (sports goggles)
- Squash (sports goggles)
- Street hockey (goalie: full face cage; others: sports goggles)
- Swimming (swim goggles recommended)
- Tennis — doubles and singles (sports goggles)
- Water polo (swim goggles recommended)
To learn more about eye protection and sports,
Workplace Eye Protection
According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are nearly 800,000 work-related eye injuries each year, but 90 percent of eye injuries are preventable if workers wear eye protection that specifically designed to protect their eyes based on the type of work they perform. While eye injuries occur most often among those who operate heavy machinery or equipment with moving parts and among those who work in construction, any worker performing manual labor is at risk and should wear eye protection.