How to Choose Your Eyeglass Lenses

Eyeglass lens options have grown incredibly in the last several decades. Whereas early eyeglass lenses were made from glass, advancements in lens materials have made them safer, thinner, lighter, and featuring benefits that early inventors never could have imagined!

Glass lenses revolutionized so many aspects of life for people of that time. Glass can provide crisp, clear views, but it is heavy and breakable. It was not uncommon for lenses to break on impact, which could cause someone to lose sight or lose the eye entirely. For that reason, glass is rarely used for eyeglasses today.

In the 1940s, plastic lenses were introduced. Armorlite Lens Company created a lightweight plastic lens made of plastic polymer. It was light, weighing about half as much as a glass lens, and was inexpensive. These plastic lenses were a hit, and are still a common option for eyeglasses today.

Polycarbonate lenses were introduced in the 1970s. Polycarbonate is a highly durable polymer that is impact-resistant, but can scratch. For this reason, the lenses are recommended for children and used in most eyeglasses, but have the addition of a hard coating to deliver greater scratch resistance.

High-index lenses are another lens option that many people aren’t aware of when they begin shopping for eyeglasses. High-index plastic materials make lenses thinner and lighter for people who have a strong prescription. Instead of thick lenses that used to give people fewer options for lenses and make their eyes look distorted from the front, high-index lenses can pack a stronger prescription into a thinner space. This opens more frame options and takes the weight off of your glasses if you have a high prescription!

In addition to lens materials, there are a number of other features that you can add to your lenses for various functionality. For instance, anti-reflective or non-glare treatments are one of the most common upgrades. Often they give added scratch-resistance as well as cutting glares and giving a clearer view of your eyes from the front. Tints are another option you can add to your lenses. For sunglasses, wearers might choose around an 85% tint, but lighter options exist, too. Many lenses can be tinted gray, brown, or yellow. Fashion tints come in rose, blue, green, or even more possibilities. Polarization is a great addition for sunglass lenses, too, because it filters the bright glares that can be uncomfortable, even with sunglass tints.

If you have any questions about the best lenses for your eyes, speak with an optician. They are trained in eyecare products and can assist you with these choices, as well as helping you pick frames that look great on you!

Don’t Forget UV Protection this Winter

Most people think of sunglasses as summer gear, but in some ways it’s even more important to wear sunglasses in winter conditions than in the warm summer months.

Thanks to public awareness campaigns about the risks of skin cancer, more people are aware that UV rays and intense sunlight are bad for our skin. Sunblock, clothing, and shade are regularly used to protect us. Do you know that UV rays are damaging to our eyes, too?

Prolonged UV exposure raises risks for:
• Cataracts
• Macular Degeneration
• Pinguecula
• Pterygium
• Photokeratitis

In the warmer months, we think about protection from the sun because we expose so much skin and can experience sunburns when we’re not covered. In the winter, however, people are colder, and bundled up, so they don’t think of the sun as a risk. This is a problem because snow can reflect 80% of UV rays! That means you’re experiencing normal sunlight from being outside, and harsh glares from white surfaces.

The fatiguing effects of winter glares become apparent usually when doing outdoor activities like skiing, snowboarding, or sledding, but driving in bright wintry conditions can also be damaging and dangerous. It’s important to be protected year-round!

When looking for appropriate winter sunwear, remember:

• Good sunglasses offer UV protection, so always be sure to check that they block 100% UVA/UVB rays.
• Larger glasses are in style, which is great because the bigger lens protects more of your eyes and the skin around your eyes from UV damage. Look for a large lens and wraparound style.
• Don’t worry about the color or darkness of the lens. Those things can vary while still providing adequate UV protection. Check the label for that information, or speak to an optician.
• Remember, polarization is for more than fishermen! Especially in the winter months when ice and snow can cause harsh glares, polarization can be a big help.
• Specialty eyewear exists for all of your favorite winter sports. Be sure your eyes are protected from the sun and safe during sports.

Talk to us if you have any questions about your UV exposure or any specialty eyewear you need to live your active winter lifestyle!

The Pros of Progressive Lenses

Multifocal lenses have made everyday life much easier for people over forty. Bifocals were invented sometime in the 1700s, but trifocals and eventually progressive lenses were later created to give wearers even more functionality. The options are great, but making the choice can be difficult!

If you need multifocal lenses to provide you more than one power, progressive lenses may be a perfect fit. They have many benefits and can work in almost any setting.

Here are some things to consider for your progressive lenses.

How Progressive Lenses Work
Progressive lenses are called “progressive” because they gradually change from one magnification to a stronger one at the bottom of the lens. They progress from a distance vision prescription to an intermediate and then a near-field one. This means that the wearer can look up to the horizon in the upper portion of the lens and see distances clearly, use the middle of the lens to look around their intermediate space, and view reading materials and close up objects through the bottom of the lens. This use of progressive lenses becomes second nature after some adjustment.

Are Progressive Lenses Better than Bifocals?
Many people prefer progressive lenses over bifocals for two reasons. First, bifocals only have two prescription powers. They usually address a farther distance and a close-up reading view. Either an intermediate distance or a certain distance will not be completely clear. Second, some people are distracted by the “image jump” that they see when looking through bifocals. This is caused by the abrupt line where the inset meets the rest of the lens. Some people love bifocals and see no added benefits from progressive lenses, but most people like the versatility of progressive lenses.

Additional Benefits of Modern Progressive Lenses
Multifocal lenses that are not progressive sometimes don’t fit well within a certain frame size. Because lenses have to be cut to fit the frame, the reading portion can end up too big or too small compared to the lens size. Short corridor progressive lenses address this by scaling the reading zones into a more compact area. This means wearers still have their pick of frames and eyeglass shapes.

In addition, specialty progressive eyewear exists to meet certain needs. Computer eyewear can be a great option for people who work at a desktop setting. These lenses do not need the addition of a distance vision section. This means that they allow more room for a close distance focus, and then the rest of the lens is created for the intermediate field. With a computer screen sitting at arm’s length, reading materials up close, and walls at an intermediate distance, these lenses help maximize the eyewear for indoor occupational settings.

Nobody will notice! Some people believe there is a stigma with bifocals because they perceive them as glasses only for senior citizens. Many people even put off getting multifocal lenses because they don’t want to admit that they need them. Progressive lenses help this issue for some people because there is not a visible line like with bifocals. It is unusual for someone to notice that the wearer has progressive lenses unlike the ability to see bifocal lines.

If you have any questions about how progressive lenses can help your eyes see as clearly and comfortably as possible, speak with an optician. There are many options and we can help you narrow down the possibilities so you can make an informed decision.

Polarized Sunglasses

Squinting into the sun and focusing in bright light is very hard on your eyes. Eye care professionals stress the importance of sunglasses and shading your eyes to protect your vision, but many people aren’t aware of the benefits that come from polarized sunglasses. They’re not just for fishermen to see into the water!

When you’re not on the dock or deck of your boat, you will continue to see the benefits of polarization. Polarized lenses can help cut glares off of surfaces like the road in front of you or the hood of your vehicle. Even bright light outdoors or through windows can be mellowed with polarized lenses.

The reason that polarized lenses work is that they cut out certain waves of light. Normal light tends to go in all directions, but light that bounces off of a surface tends to “polarize” and align itself horizontally. So sunlight beating down on the water doesn’t appear as ambient light once it bounces off the water, because it hits that reflective surface and bounces up, glaring into your eyes. Polarized lenses are specially made with a vertical polarization so that they cut out that intense reflected light and let you see more of the natural light you’d see if there was no glare. Pretty cool, right? You can even experiment with glasses to see if they’re polarized by holding them out and rotating the lens to see if the glare lessens or not.

Some people may notice instances where polarized lenses are not helpful, however. Cell phone screens, LCD and GPS displays can be more difficult to read. In some cases, much brighter light is something you need to see, like in downhill skiing. A bright patch alerts the skier to ice, and polarization would make it harder to see. But most everyday skiers and snowboarders would like to ease the bright light reflecting off of the snow if they’re not in icy conditions. Other than a few rare occasions, polarized lenses can do a lot to improve your vision for many applications. Ask your eye care professional for help deciding if polarization is right for your eyewear.

How to Pick Your Glasses – From Functional to Fashion-Forward

Picking eyeglasses can be a difficult process of trial and error, especially if you haven’t done it many times before. The problem is that, unlike shopping for clothing where you may have a good idea of what fits you and what your favorite colors and patterns are, people can sometimes be vague on what they want for glasses (or have no idea at all). Few people know the most important factors for getting the right glasses for you: the shape of your face and which glasses will accent that shape, color and design options available to fit your preference, and features that will work best with your lifestyle.

Instead of standing in front of racks of frames and trying them on for what could be hours, consider these things first. Ask an observant friend or your eye care professional if you need help.

Which glasses will look best on you is most reliant on the shape of your face. Take a head-on look in the mirror and notice the shape of your face. Is your face taller and more arrow, or shorter and rounded? Is your face more like a diamond, or maybe a triangle shape? Is the bone structure angular, or do you have soft curves? Once you narrow that down, it’s easier to start shopping. Sometimes it helps to do an internet search and see examples of different face shapes and see which one most closely resembles you.

If your face is small, large frames will make your face look even smaller, and your features will get lost behind your glasses. If you have a larger face, small glasses will look out of proportion and make your eyes appear small. Rounded glasses soften an angular face, but a soft face can look balanced and cool with an edgy pair of angular glasses. It may take a few tries to hit on what style of glasses look good on you, but usually there are several models that will look sharp. You can narrow down your selection further once you decide on the general style that you prefer.

You can also look at trends for frame styles based on age. There’s no reason that a young person can’t wear rimless glasses, or a senior can’t wear something bright, but we tend to see trends that vary by age group. Younger people are choosing old-fashioned styles that have become popular again. Vintage styles like horn-rimmed, Wayfarer, and Clubmaster glasses have become cool unisex styles for younger people who want a classic look. Older women are making fun, youthful looks with black frames and unique, funky shapes that are creative, but still convey their professional status. Older men in particular might like frameless and very thin frames that have a mature and barely-there look.

Next, think about your personality and fashion sense. Are you the kind of person who would enjoy something bold, or do you tend to shy away from being the center of attention? Don’t be afraid to be creative with your selection if it suits you. Many frames come in patterns like plaid or animal print, or offer clear or other modern materials that will make your glasses pop.

What color will look best with your skin tone, hair, eyes, and apparel? Do you have a varied color palette for clothing, or are most of your clothes in similar colors? If you don’t plan on buying a new wardrobe, it’s a good idea to factor in your apparel as well as the overall tone of your skin and hair. Do you wear blue jeans and lots of cool greens, grays, and purples, or are you a more summery, bright yellow and orange palette? For skin tone, warmer colors would be a pink or yellow skin, whereas olive skin falls on the cooler side. Someone with rich brown hair, a more yellow skin tone, and coppery brown eyes might look strange in cool blue frames, for instance.

How dark or fair your skin is will also have an effect on your choice. Darker skin looks good with light colored glasses for a nice contrast, but fair skin looks better with a neutral tone that won’t make them look washed out. People with a medium skin tone can get a slick look with solid, bright colors.

Finally, make sure that you pick glasses that work for your lifestyle. If you’re big on adventure or you have young children who might be after your eyewear, ask about frames that are more durable and able to bend without breaking. Do you usually have to look professional, or can you be casual on a daily basis? If you’re getting one pair of glasses and not multiple pairs, you’ll need to be sure that your final pick can fit your needs and normal daily setting.

If you’re getting ready for your visit and will be picking glasses, wear an outfit that you usually wear, and do your hair and makeup in a way that’s typical for you. Ask your eye care professional for help if you want a second opinion, or get their assistance to narrow down some options. Let a professional help you create a new face!

Golfing, Fishing, Winter Sports, and More

Just as sports officials are becoming more concerned with overall physical safety for athletes, more people are wearing specialized eyewear to protect their eyes and give them protection and sharp vision while performing their sport. Specialty eyewear options are available and tailored to just about every sport. All you have to do is know your sporting needs and talk to an eye care professional to discuss your options. It’s nice to know what to expect and what you can get other than just wearing contact lenses.

Here are some of the most common options and things to consider for glasses, goggles, or other specialty eyewear with unique capabilities to increase your sporting performance.

Darkened/tinted or photochromic lenses. Is your sport outdoors? Protection from bright sunlight and UV rays is crucial! Watersports and winter sports involve glares coming up from the snow or water. The bright light is damaging to your eyes and very uncomfortable if you’re not protected. Certain color tints can also help make sports glasses more functional. Golf glasses, for example, often use a copper or amber color that improves the contrast of grass and sky so you can read the course better. Make sure that you invest in glasses that will fit your outdoor setting.

Fitting with other gear. Eyewear for activities like motorsports, cycling, or football will need to fit with headgear. Be sure to test your eyewear with your uniform or additional gear, and talk to your eye care professional about the other items you’ll be wearing along with your eyewear.

Durability. In sports like racquetball, or really any sport with objects that are swung or flung around, you face the risk of getting hit and injuring your eyes if they’re not protected. This also means that your glasses or goggles are likely to take a beating while protecting your eyes. Scratch-resistance and high-impact polycarbonate materials are often used in sports eyewear to be sure that they will have a long life and will be able to shield your eyes from harm.

Considerations for contact lenses. Those who wear contact lenses and will be doing their sport in the elements can benefit greatly from glasses that wrap around the face. Protection from wind and debris will ensure that no irritants enter the eye and affect your contact lenses.

Protection from other substances. Watersports may come to mind when you think of goggles that protect your eyes from liquid, but there are other sports like paintball that could greatly damage the eyes if not protected. Specialty masks with breathable vents that allow air in will be sure to keep paint out. Goggles for watersports have similar features to keep water out of your eyes so you can see clearly under the water or above.

Polarized lenses. Probably the most important aspect of eyewear for fishing is polarization. Polarized lenses make it possible to see under the surface of the water because the lenses are specially made to cut down refracted light. Once the sunlight bouncing off the water is minimized, it’s far easier to see into the water and read important fishing features like vegetation, depth, underwater landscape, and even fish! Other water and winter sports can benefit from polarization as well to prevent the eyes from glaring sunlight.

Make sure that you’re prepared for your sport with protective gear and the right eyewear to keep your eyes on the prize. See an eye care professional to give your eyes a sporting chance!