Do old or cheap sunglasses increase the risk of eye damage from ultraviolet

I have no problem with Cecil’s column

It’s Slug’s artwork I don’t understand. What are the round things the fellow is spreading lotion on. The woman’s giant … posterior?

Are my eyes just poisoned to this and I can’t see it as it is really depicted?

Your eyes poisoned?! Never mind.

Yes it looks like a posterior to me. Assuming that the size is exaggerated, that’s definitely a good place to spread lotion on…

Good ol’ Slug illustrations… Sure looks like a butt to me.

I’d say “Baby’s got back”

As for the column, can you explain how UV protection works and the variation of the protection percentages in the types of clasifications. Do the Special purpose shades offer better protection because they better seal on the face and prevent leakage of UV in from he sides or does the glass/coating protect better? In that vein is it the glass or the coating? Do the plastic wrap-arounds work differently than the mirrored and/or polarized glass lenses?

I love sunglasses and keep my eyes covered with expensive high quiality (I assume) sunglasses, and wonder what critera are important. As for your classifications listed that are “vouluntarily used”, I haven’t seen them on many pairs. I have noticed the frquent stickers that say 100% UV A, UV B protective etc, but the special purpose is new to me. Granted I buy mainly on looks, style, and how much I like the view through them, what is the dope on UV protection?

The facts expressed here belong to everybody, the opinions to me. The distinction is
yours to draw…

Omniscient; BAG

A note on the sunglasses issue- I did some research on this while a grad student about 10 years ago, getting ready to go to Antarctica (think UV hole AND 24 hrs sun). Not trusting the labels on sunglasses, I did a simple experiment; put a known amount of UV into a lens and measured the amount coming out. The results can be summed up pretty simply, and agree with Cecil’s column.

  1. Expensive or cheap doesn’t matter. Some of the $3.99 glasses from the gas station were as good as the +$100 models.

  2. UV absorption and reflection are primarily properties of the material the lens is made of. Polycarbonate lenses (in most sunglasses) block or absorb 95%+ of UV in all wavelengths. That is the equivalent of 20 or better SPF and you’d have to be in an extreme situation to need more (staring at the sun, for instance).
    Coatings on polycarbonate can boost UV blocking even further, but aren’t crucial. If the coatings are scratched or polished away, it has only a slight (<5%) effect.
    Glass, on the other hand, is virtually 100% UV proof. If you really are paranoid about UV, go glass. Although heavier, glass is also much better at resisting scratches.

That said, I proudly wear my $3.99 fashion statements. And if I accidently sit on them I’m not out the big bucks. Given Slug’s art model, it’s another important consideration.

What about contact lenses with UV protection? My Bausch&Lombs make this claim. In theory, UV-protected contacts would eliminate the side-leakage problem. Is the claim legit, or just another scam like wrinkle cream and “energy” bars?

Contact lenses will protect the central part of your cornea, and your retina, but not the remainder of you eye. The entire eyeball is highly susceptible to burning by UV- the classic syndrome of being “snowblind” is nothing more than a sunburn on the whites of the eye. Nor to mention incredibly painful. So while contacts do offer some protective value in terms of preventing cataracts or retinal damage, the protection is minimal. And if you wear contacts instead of glasses, the range of cheap sunglasses available to you is amazing, so why not wear them?

I always let my eye doctor shill the UV coating on my glasses when I get new ones every couple of years. (Ordinary glasses, I mean, not sunglasses.) What the heck, I figure, might as well try to save my retinas as a gift to myself for when I turn 65, especially since he “definitely recommends” them.

So I’m at a museum in San Diego last year which has a UV detector exhibit, demonstrating how much UV is screened out by different types of sunglasses. The exhibit has a UV “gun” aimed at a detector, and you can spin a wheel to interpose different types of sunglasses (and ordinary eyeglasses) between the gun and the detector. (Cecil, make a field trip to the museums, they’re right by the Zoo, you must have a backlog of UV research and animal research you’ll be able to conduct in a day if you work at it.)

The wheel has 5 types of glasses mounted in it, and also an empty slot. What an opportunity! I shout, and throw my glasses into the wheel. To my shock, the glasses reduced the UV by maybe 3% or 5%.

I went and bitched to the poor doctor’s aide but nothing ever came of it. All of ya’s, you’re paying for nothing when you pay extra for the UV protection!