Eye Opener

Gary W.
Hall, MD

By Andrew Karp

Gary W. Hall, MD is a Phoenix-based ophthalmologist specializing in cataract and lasik surgery. In his two decades of practice, Dr. Hall has concentrated on treating and reversing eye conditions caused by sun exposure.

Although ultraviolet, blue or infrared radiation has proven to play a key role in the development of numerous medical conditions, national standards for testing nonprescription sunglasses only quantify the UV-blocking capability of a lens. To fill this gap, Dr. Hall developed the Frame Coverage, Ultraviolet, Blue and Infrared (FUBI) rating system. Modeled after the “SPF” system for sunscreen, FUBI is a comprehensive system for scientifically rating nonprescription sunglasses to determine the effectiveness of both the frame and lens in blocking harmful solar radiation.

Hall has also co-authored books on the subject of vision and the environmental effects on vision.

What motivated you to take a pro-active, preventative approach to treating eye damage and disease?
I wanted to combat eye damage caused by sun exposure. The eyes are the only human organs besides the skin directly exposed to ultraviolet solar radiation. Americans are continually warned about the harmful effects of sun exposure to the skin. Yet little mention is made about the fact that eyes are also at a significantly high risk for developing sun-related conditions and diseases. Eyelid cancer, cataracts, pterygium, keratitis, which is an inflammation of the cornea or eye, and macular degeneration are some of the eye diseases and conditions directly related to sun exposure.

How did you come up with the idea for the FUBI rating system for sunglasses?
Sunglasses are often a person’s only way to shield their eyes from the sun. It’s imperative that sunglasses are rated and consumers are informed of the sunglasses ability to protect their eyes.
Underestimating the seriousness of sun exposure when it comes to their eyes, people often focus on the style rather than the effectiveness of sunglasses. The FUBI rating system for non-prescription eyewear ensures that every consumer receives the protection necessary to prevent sun-related eye conditions. Andrew Ishak, OD, came up with idea of an EPF. [L&T interviewed Maryland-based optometrist Dr. Andrew Ishak for the January, 2003 Eye Opener.]

How does the FUBI system work?
When testing under the FUBI system, sunglasses are rated in four categories: frame coverage, ultraviolet, blue and infrared. Frame coverage focuses on the shape and style of the sunglasses for the ability to block the sun’s rays coming from every angle toward the eye. Ultraviolet rates the most harmful part of the sun’s spectrum, the ultraviolet rays. Measuring the sunglasses protection from blue light is the blue rating, and infrared testing evaluates the protection against infrared rays.

How do you determine the EPF value?
Let’s assume most lenses today will block majority of UV. The two most important factors in getting a high score, the factors that will show a real differentiation from one sunglass to another, are the frame coverage and blue light. The highest rated sunglasses will have be wraparounds that offer a high-degree blue light attenuation. The lowest ratings will be for sunglasses that have minimal eye coverage and little or no blue light attenuation.

What do you hope to accomplish with FUBI?
I believe the FUBI system has the potential to do the same for sunglasses as the SPF (Sun Protection Factor) system did for sunscreen. By bringing more public awareness to the association of solar radiation and eye diseases, we will hopefully convince more consumers to wear good protective sunglasses than ever before and help prevent or delay the onset of these serious eye problems.
I hope to have the FUBI System adopted as an amended part of the ANSI Z80.3 standard for non-prescription eyewear. I’ve presented the concept to the Z80.3 committee, but I haven’t received a formal response yet.

I have also discussed FUBI with the FDA. I’d like to see them create a new category that I’d call solar toxicological properties. It would take all the information that pertains to solar radiation and its effect on the eye. The category would be defined by the ANSI committee with the FUBI evaluation.