Sunwear, the Other First Pair
By Mark Mattison-Shupnick, ABOM
Release Date: March, 2011
Expiration Date: February 25, 2016
Upon completion of this program, the participant should be able to:
- Understand the changing needs of the presbyope as electronic gear affects lifestyle and visual demand.
- Learn how the design of a progressive can be altered for a specific distance, mid-range need.
- Know that new research helps to determine lens designs for specific wearing preference.
Mark Mattison-Shupnick, ABOM is currently director of education and training, program development for Jobson Information Services LLC, has more than 40 years of experience as an optician, was senior staff member of SOLA International and is a frequent lecturer and trainer.
This course is approved for one (1) hour of CE credit by the American Board of Opticianry (ABO). Course SWJM503-1
This course is approved for one (1) hour of CE credit by the National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE). Course # CWJM021-1
**Please note that this course is available for either ABO OR NCLE credit only. Credit for both will not be granted during a renewal period. **
SUN PROTECTION IS
More consumers than ever before are active outdoors, making sunwear just as important as indoor
eyewear. And if they work outdoors, sun protection
can be even more important.
I work a few days each month for an independent
optician. I feel that I have done patients a disservice
when they leave without being aware of the
importance of UV protection and the availability
of prescription sunwear.
Considering what is known about the
sun’s potential damage to skin and eyes,
and because we’re living much longer, it’s
every optician’s responsibility to introduce
information to every patient about the
risks of not protecting their eyes with
quality sunwear. That information should
- A discussion of who needs quality
- Potential damage caused by UV
and blue light radiation
- Lifestyle cues for choosing the best
types of sunwear
- How the optician should position sunwear
in the office
In general, consumers know little about the sun’s
effects on their eyes and equally less about quality
sunwear. Three things are required on your part.
First condense your conversation into simple
phrases, sound bytes that give patients reasons to
want to own the sunwear you recommend. To do
this you must understand the technical background
that allows you to talk with confidence. In this
way, sunwear becomes a valuable eyewear asset and
just as important, their “other first pair.”
Second, show your knowledge of some of the
technical aspects of quality sunwear.
Third, present the benefits and value of purchasing quality frames and lenses.
THE SUNWEAR DISCUSSION
Since most patients have contact with front office
staff and technicians before seeing the doctor, they
should mention the necessity of good quality sunwear while taking a patient’s history and during early contact. Both the ophthalmologist
and the optometrist should include discussing
the need for good quality sunwear while the
patient is in the chair.
Then the optician should discuss good quality sunwear with every patient. During their
lifestyle consultation with the patient, identify
the times not only when a patient would benefit by having sunwear, but the fact that it may
even be more important than their indoor
pair. It’s really the responsibility of everybody
who works in the practice and interacts with
the patient to discuss good quality sunwear.
Talk to parents about the importance of sunwear for children. The average child receives
three times the annual UV exposure of an
adult mainly because the bulk of lifetime UV
radiation exposure occurs prior to age 18; and
because the clear lens of the young child transmits 7.5 times the amount of potentially harmful
UV radiation as does the yellowing lens of an
adult (75 percent transmission at age 10, 10
percent at age 30). Damage caused by exposure
to UV radiation is cumulative and therefore
protection needs to begin as early as possible.
For these reasons, ECP’s should not limit
their discussion of sunwear to just adults, but
should include all ages including children.
Lifestyle questioning uses direct and openended questions to find out the lifestyles of
your patients. It allows a personalization of
benefits that resonates with patients. Example 1: “Mr. Jones, please discuss your
outdoor activities with me, so that I may
guide your choices.” A statement such as
this, followed by a question will get your
“Mr. Smith, you stated that you drive for a
living. Did you know that blinding glare is
responsible for a very high percentage of traffic accidents? Let me explain how quality
polarized no-glare prescription sunwear could
actually make you safer while you drive.” Example 2: “Ms. Jones, you mentioned you
do a lot of boating. Let me demonstrate to you
how good quality, polarized lenses can make
you more comfortable on your boat. You can
also get prescription lenses in these great
designer brand frames, just like celebrities.”
KNOWING THE FACTS:
RADIATION, EXPOSURE AND
PROTECTING THE EYES
Three Concerns: UV, Blue Light and Glare
The eye is exposed to the sun’s radiation,
both invisible and visible. Called the Electromagnetic Spectrum, the visible portion provides color, blacks, whites and grays. Invisible
radiation borders the visible. The shorter
wavelengths are called ultraviolet (UV), the
longer called Infrared (IR).
Glare (visible) or the excess of light is another
concern. It can be everything from annoying to
blinding. With an understanding of the ways
that patients will wear their sunwear, an optician can personalize the lens materials, colors
and coatings so that both the wearer and
eyewear perform spectacularly.
Invisible: Ultraviolet Radiation and its Effects
Ultraviolet Radiation is invisible. It is divided
into three categories—UVA, UVB and UVC.
UVC, 190 to 280 nanometers (nm), is filtered
by the earth’s ozone layer. UVA (aging rays,
315 to 380nm) and UVB (burning rays, 280
to 315nm) can cause damage to the tissues of
the body including the eye. The effects of UV
are cumulative. Excessive exposure as a child
can’t be undone as an adult wearing sunwear.
In fact, it is estimated that 80 percent of the
eyes’ UV is accumulated by the age of 18. The
sooner the right sunwear is worn, the better.
Both UVA and UVB are known causative
agents for skin cancers, i.e., basal, squamous
and melanoma cancer. UV is the only proven
carcinogen found in the natural environment.
Given long life and a lack of understanding,
these cancers have reached epidemic proportions. Tanning salons contribute to the problem since they deliver not only high levels of
UVA, but also reinforce the notions that a tan
is inherently appealing, suggests health and is
associated with wealth, privilege and mobility.
As a result of the popularity and use of tanning parlors, we may be now seeing the appearance of what were formerly old age
cancers in a much younger population.
Sources of UV include direct exposure from
the sun and reflective surfaces like water, sand
and snow. UV exposure to the eye leads to
increased risks of sunshine or brown cataracts, pingueculae, increased pterygium, and
photokeratitis, not to mention lid and skin
cancers around the eyes. In addition, we can
see an increase in accelerated ocular aging,
weakened color vision as well as other permanent visual damage.
Infrared (IR) radiation produces heat but
when present is uncomfortable, so it is typically avoided. Therefore, most eyewear
experts agree, there are few applications
where IR is considered a hazard in eyewear.
Visible: Blue Light and Glare
High-Energy Visible Blue Light (HEV)
encompasses the blue and violet portion of
the visible light spectrum. Research has
shown that it is a contributing factor to agerelated macular degeneration (AMD).
High Energy Visible (HEV) light, i.e., blue
light, when accumulated over a lifetime, is of
concern because the shortest wavelengths of
the visible spectrum contain significant energy.
HEV light is powerful enough to injure human
cells, mainly through the production of oxygen
free radicals. This prevents the normal metabolism of the retinal cells, causing damage or cell
death. Extended exposure to HEV blue light,
like UV radiation, can also cause damage to
the eye and the skin around the eye.
Glare from too much visible light always
reduces clear and comfortable vision. It can be
as simple as the reflections off the back of a
sun lens that interrupt clear vision; to a super
bright sunny day, to that blinding reflective
flash off the dewy wet pavement while driving
on a sunny morning. Glare causes squinting,
eye fatigue and reduced vision. It is generally
annoying and can become the cause of a car
accident if you’re blinded to something in the
road that you should be able to see. Probe the
patient for the real ways they will use sunwear.
Be sure to get glare control right.
For example, a baseball player needs to see
accurately when searching for the ball against a
blue or overcast sky; a skier must pick out the
ice and moguls at speed; and when fly fishing,
seeing how the fly just touches the surface of the
river may be the difference between fish or steak
for dinner. Professional drivers, like mom and
dad, need all the visibility they can get with the
right pair of sunglasses. Seeing clearly, with the
best contrast, can sharpen reaction time. In fact
at 60 mph, even a quarter of a second equals
22 feet. A decision that is even a second faster
can make the difference and avoid an accident.
GLARE CONTROL SUNWEAR
Protective Lens Options
Glare control lenses can do all of the following:
- Provide comfort in any outdoor light
- Eliminate blinding glare
- Prevent squinting as well as the pain
experienced by some in very bright light
- Protect the eye from the harmful effects of
UV and blue light
- Enhance contrast and colors
Describing each of the benefits of glare
control lenses and choosing the right combinations is the optician’s job. Determine the
color, selective absorption and darkness of
the lens based on the age of the patient and
the conditions in which they will wear their
sunglasses. Always describe the benefits of
polarized—they are the only lenses that can
eliminate blinding glare. Then choose the
right lens material to deliver the best protection and looks. To best eliminate glare, I
always recommend a no glare back lens surface
on all sunwear.
Only polarized lenses filter the intense
reflections of light that become polarized
and intensified when bouncing off flat surfaces. A specially oriented polarizing film,
encapsulated within the lens, selectively
blocks the horizontal waves of reflected
glare. With ordinary sunglasses, any blinding
flash from reflected surfaces would be
reduced in brightness but still transmitted
through the lens and into the eye.
Since the liquid crystal screens (LCD) on
cell phones, PDAs, car dashboards and gas
pumps are also polarized (at 45 degrees), the
180 degree orientation of polarized lenses
may block some of the screen—that’s normal.
Be sure to advise patients and suggest tilting
their head or the cell phone 45 degrees for
Tinted lenses are dip-dyed or molded with
an encapsulated film of uniform color.
Like polarized lenses, tints are identified by
color and darkness or percent transmission.
Order them from your lab at the darkness
or density required. Most labs supply tint
sample sets so patient, optician and lab can
all agree on lens color and transmission.
Photochromic lenses change tint and darkness. They start clear and turn sun lenses dark
in the presence of UV radiation, sunlight (i.e,
Transitions VI, Vision-Ease LifeRX, HOYA
SunTech, etc.) and sun lens versions, somewhat dark to darker (Transitions XTRActive,
Younger Drivewear). Be sure to discuss with
patients their sun needs since the major
advantage of photochromics is their conve nience—they are as dark or light as needed. In some conditions (hot weather, inside the
car), they may not get as dark as the patient
prefers. Therefore, the patient should think
about their photochromics as general purpose and consider polarized, dark tinted or
XTRActive sunwear for sunglasses. Fixed
tint or photochromics can be argued both
ways for many sports and outdoor activities—
understand your patient’s preferences and
Different sports and outdoor tasks are best
with different tints or polarized lens colors,
since it is the color (chemistry) that filters wavelengths of light differently. This means that a yellow tennis ball or objects against a green
background (golf) benefit with
lenses that can accentuate visibility.
WHICH LENS MATERIAL?
Sun lenses—think sports, outdoors, bungee jumping or just
lazing by the pool. The activity
suggests the lens material. Easy
sunning—plastic—though be sure
that the lens is UV protective.
However, sports activities and sunwear worn around the house even
to do chores also requires better
impact strength. Recommend
polycarbonate and Trivex as good
general purpose materials especially in Rx because aside from
its excellent impact resistance, it
creates thinner and lighter lenses.
Mirrors are applied in a vacuum
process to the front surface of a lens
only. It reflects light, is beneficial in
reducing the light transmission
through the lens, adds additional
absorption (darkness) and offers
protection from intense sunlight.
Mirror coatings are also beneficial in
reflecting or absorbing both UV
and IR (depending on the metal
used to make the colored mirror).
The mirrored surface is effectively a
one-way mirror. An observer can see
him or herself in reflection, but the
wearer can see clearly through the
lens from the back.
Reflex mirror coatings are produced in standard colors of silver,
gold, blue and rainbow colors.
They can be done in solid mirrors,
single or double gradients. The
intensity of the reflection determines whether
the mirror is called “flash” (more transparency, less reflective intensity) or “dielectric” (no
front surface transparency, high
While infrared (IR) is not considered hazardous for the sunglass
wearer, one example to consider is
the lifeguard, sitting for hours in
the heat at the beach. The IR will
produce extra heat, especially
behind a wrap sun lens. A gold mirror absorbs IR so the lens space
behind the lens will be kept cooler.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Great sunwear lets you show
patients your “Truly I Care” side.
People love wearing sunglasses
and trying them on. They see themselves differently in sunwear and
will wear more daring styles than
they would for clear eyewear. So it’s
easy to help them push their own
limits. They love to look like the
celebrities so often photographed
with their great shades.
Make sunwear a big part of the
practice. Research shows that consumers are more likely to purchase
sunwear if it appears the practice
is in the sunwear business. It is
recommended that 25 to 50 percent
of your inventory be sunwear, with
about 35 percent being ideal. Sunwear can easily be incorporated
with a variety of displays in areas
outside the dispensary.
Everyone needs quality sunwear,
either plano or prescription. In
order to successfully sell sunwear,
first condense and simplify the
message, then understand the latest
in lens and frame technology, and
finally have lots and lots of fun.
Present “sound bytes” to get the
patient’s attention and enable them
to understand the true value of Rx
sunwear—that other first pair.