Sunglasses are more than just a fashion statement; they are a necessity when it comes to protecting your vision. Studies have demonstrated that UV and blue light damage the pigment cells in the retina, which can accelerate AMD. However, a proper pair of shades can help filter out such forms of radiation. Additionally, there are a plethora of other reasons as to why AMD patients should wear protective sunglasses not only outdoors, but also indoors when necessary.
Extreme sensitivity to glare is one common symptom experienced by AMD patients. Glare caused by sunlight, other lighting sources and reflections from household objects can be particularly harsh for those with the degenerative disease. Sunglasses with polarized lenses can be extremely beneficial in reducing the glare that is reflected from these surfaces.
Wearing proper eye protection on a regular basis can provide comfort, help prevent AMD and slow the deterioration of vision. Use the following advice to ensure that you select a quality, efficient pair of shades.
Tips for choosing sunglasses for macular degeneration:
Polarized Lens: As mentioned, a polarized lens is a specialized material that blocks reflected glare. These lenses are especially helpful for individuals who do a lot of driving or riding in cars and for people who enjoy water sports or being by the water. (Note that polarization has nothing to do with UV protection.)
UV Protection: The most important feature of a pair of sunglasses is that the lenses provide 100% protection from UV-A and UV-B light. Ultra-violet light exposure can damage not only your eye lids, but your cornea, lens and retina. Look for sunglasses that block 99% to 100% of UVA/UVB rays.
Read the Label: This should go without saying, but ensure that you read the label carefully. Dark lenses do not necessarily mean they will block out UV rays. (Note: If the label says that they block up to 400 nanometers or nm, that’s the same as 100% UV absorption.)
Size & Fit: Look for wrap around shades that offer side protection. Remember, the sun’s rays don’t just come from the front. Large, wrap around shades help protect eyes from the elements in the most efficient way. Your sunglass frames should fit snugly on your nose and ears without pinching or rubbing.
Price: Consider that price is not always indicative of quality. Studies have shown some costly sunglasses to be less effective at blocking UV rays than their cheaper counterparts. Whether you find designer shades, or you find a pair at the drug store, there are quality sunglasses that are flattering and functional for everyone.
Yellow lenses: Some lenses can offer enhanced contrast for AMD sufferers. Sometimes called “blue blockers,” orange or yellow lenses are good choice because they offer contrast enhancement and better depth perception. (Keep in mind that it is not recommended that you drive while wearing these glasses!)
In order to get the best feel for whether a new pair of shades will offer optical clarity, reduced glare and enhanced contrast, try your prospective sunglasses on both inside and outside.
Ask your low vision optometrist to perform specialized tests to decipher the best colour, shade and type of lens material that will work best for you and your eyes. If you’re not sure whether your current shades are up to par, visit an eyewear store. Most eyewear stores have UV meters that can measure your shades’ level of protection for you.
Remember, preventing and slowing AMD begins with making healthy choices. Wearing quality sunglasses, eating right, keeping away from pollutants and supplementing with carotenoids can contribute to better eye health.
What kind of sunglasses do you prefer? Do you have any other suggestions for choosing sunglasses for AMD?