By Steven Indelicato

In the wake of the COVID-19 virus, the entire world has been using desktops and tablets more than ever before. Trapped inside, parents and children alike are working and learning from home, eating away at Wi-Fi speeds and computer usage. When faced with these new realities, it is hard to ignore one of the most talked about optical problems: digital eye strain and the harmful effects of blue light. 

That said, we must not forget the number one source of blue light, the sun. Yes, as we all daydream for our quarantine days to end, and summer activities to finally arrive, we must know how to best protect our eyes from the sun. 

With summer weather upon us, it is important for eyecare professionals to educate patients on the best sunglass lens for ultraviolet light, and polarized lenses appear to work the best. Polarization is quite simple. Wavelengths from the sun naturally come down vertically. Regular non-polarized lenses would tackle these rays of light without contest. When those rays of light bounce off a reflective surface such as water, however, they turn horizontal, and cause blinding glare. Polarized lenses offer additional clarity and protection to our eyes by reducing those harmful horizontal wave lengths. This option is ideal for patients who are out by the beach, increasing visual comfort and clarity. 

In addition to polarization, patients must consider the type of lens material to use as another important factor. Optically speaking, the best lens is made from glass, allowing incredible visual clarity by permitting more light to enter the eye. Yes, although somewhat heavier than its alternative materials, glass not only delivers the best optics, but also serves as the most durable scratch resistant material. Some of the highest quality sunglass lenses made from glass often appear in sunglasses made by companies like Persol and Ray-Ban (they also happen to be quite stylish!). However, if patients are looking for a more lightweight material, it is best to recommend plastic or polycarbonate. These two, although optically inferior to glass, serve as a good substitute. Maui Jim sunglasses are a great recommendation to patients looking for a terrific lens with lightweight characteristics.  Glass, plastic, or polycarbonate can be made polarized and all have their pros and cons. It is up to us to understand the patient’s needs, provide our best recommendations and offer the most reliable sun protection for them. 

Lastly, eyecare professionals also should recommend a back sided anti-reflective coating for sunglass lenses. Educating patients about minimizing and preventing all glare, light and UV affecting the back of the lens is extremely important. By incorporating this into conversation, eye care professionals ensure they cover each area to best protect their patient’s eyes from the sun. Back side anti-reflective coating also adds a nice touch for optimum optical quality, eliminating distracting reflections.

The time for us to officially enjoy some sunshine is finally here. But, if the tragic events of COVID-19 have taught us anything, we must do so cautiously with the best eye protection available. And try to look good at the same time, of course. Eyecare professionals should respond to patients’ needs by informing them of every available option. In those moments, customers appreciate the unique optical expertise we provide.  We should take seriously our responsibility to lead the way in sun protection for our eyes. Giving patients the most cutting-edge knowledge and providing a vast selection of options undoubtedly will improve patient recalls and increase sales – the right lens, literally, for everyone.   

Learn more about different sunglass options available and their pros and cons with our CE, The 'A-B-Cs' of UV and Sunwear - Part 2, at