By Linda Conlin, ABOC, NCLEC

The prescription indicates that the patient will see well with the lens powers prescribed, but real-life vision is so much more. Varying light conditions, UV protection, glare and color enhancement are important elements of the overall vision experience that cannot be ignored. Here are three lens enhancements to be considered for every patient.

The first photochromic lenses were heavy, thick and not dark enough to properly function as sunwear. Now, advanced photochromic technology has produced lenses that respond more efficiently to light energy for darker lenses, fade to clear faster, offer full UV protection, blue light protection and patients can express themselves with a variety of traditional and fashion colors. They are available in the newest lens designs and lightweight materials, too.

Photochromics that darken in the car, the lack of which was long considered a shortcoming, are now available. Polarized photochromics cut glare and are responsive to the changing light and glare conditions encountered by drivers and outdoor enthusiasts. And while early photochromics were affected by temperature, not getting dark enough in high temperatures and taking too long to fade in the cold, today’s lenses remain a consistent shade regardless of ambient temperature.

Photochromics provide an eyewear solution for every patient, including kids. Kids are busy indoors and outdoors with school and sports. It can be hard for them and their parents to keep track of everything they need and adding a separate pair of glasses for sun protection is impractical. For children already wearing ophthalmic lenses, making them photochromic makes sense.

The eyeglass consumer places a premium on seeing well and looking well in their glasses, both of which AR treatment enhances. AR is an essential lens enhancement to improve cosmetics, visual acuity, comfort and durability. It provides a protective surface layer that increases durability, makes the lenses clearer to see through and more attractive to be seen in, because they provide a clear view of the world and the wearer’s eyes.

AR minimizes reflections from the front, back and internal lens surfaces. Wearing a lens without antireflective treatment is distracting for the wearer as lens reflections degrade lens optical quality impeding acuity and causing halos and ghost images that are particularly visible when driving at night. Uncoated lenses lose visible light transmission (VLT) due to these reflections. The higher the VLT, the better the contrast sensitivity and vision through a lens, and AR coating helps reduce digital eye strain by reducing lens reflections.

New AR technology addresses old AR concerns and comes with new benefits to make the lenses easier to clean and keep clean longer and more durable and scratch resistant. AR is a practical lens enhancement for children because it makes their eyewear more durable, scratch-resistant and cosmetically more attractive, a confidence booster for kids who wear glasses. It ensures the acuity and visual clarity designed into digitally optimized lenses are maximized. AR is critical to all high-index and polycarbonate lenses because surface reflections are index dependent, making AR an indispensable addition to increase light transmittance and reduce reflections. Every pair of lenses benefits from the application of AR.

Patients can customize their tinted, polarized, photochromic or even clear lenses with a new array of mirror and flash mirror coatings that let your patients cultivate their own unique look in a high performing functional lens. Photochromic and sunglass lenses with mirror coatings reduce light transmission, which improves visual comfort, both in extreme light conditions and everyday wear. While full and flash mirrors are a great add on for sunglasses, they are taking fashion mirrors to a new level with a wide choice of colors for any eyewear.

Lens products that manipulate light signals and wavelengths of light to enhance color vision are now available. A notch filter, which blocks the exact wavelengths of light in the location where they overlap, results in simplified differentiation of colors. The lenses block specific wavelengths to create a clearer separation of color signals, so they are better interpreted by the brain. Band-pass filters block all wavelengths except those belonging to a specific spectral range and filter out unwanted ambient light that negatively affects the visual contrast needed for color discrimination.

The human eye is unable to see the entire visible light spectrum clearly because it has difficulty distinguishing light at the boundaries where pure color peak wavelength responses merge or overlap and produce color confusion at the blue with green and green with red junctures. Filtering out the confusing light at these boundaries helps increase clarity and color definition with vibrant contrast and vivid detail. New color enhancing lenses selectively block blue wavelengths of light and attenuate specific yellow wavelengths to produce a visual experience with more vivid colors, better depth perception, enhanced clarity and high definition. These lenses can help everyone enjoy a more vivid world!