Whether or not you require vision correction, sunglasses can add an element of comfort and enhanced performance to your activities, while helping you look great.
Sunglasses Q&A with Dr. Altig:
What is the best type of sunglasses?
Dr. Altig: By far the best sunglasses are polarized sunglasses. Most sunglasses just diminish the amount of light that gets into the eye. Out of 55%-90% of the light that comes into the eye, only 5% gets into the eye. However, we really don't need that. What we really need is to knock out reflective light/glare, which is what Polarized sunglasses do.
How do polarized sunglasses work?
Dr. Altig: The way that polarized sunglasses work is they allow maybe 65% dark reduction, so 35% of the light is still getting into your eye, but none of its glare. Therefore, more light is getting to your eyes without the glare, and your vision is sharper, clearer and crisper. It’s similar to the difference in seeing during the day vs. during the night.
Ski goggles are polarized because there is all that reflected light and glare from the snow coming back up at you, and the polarized lens eliminates that.
The same is true for fishermen, or anyone who participates in water sports. With a regular pair of sunglasses, you will only see the glare and reflection off the top of the water and not into the water. However, because the polarized
lenses eliminate that, (depending on the water visibility) then you will be able to see 10-15 ft down into the water. Fishermen learned this a long time ago and all good fishermen wear only polarized sunglasses.
What are the other benefits of polarized sunglasses?
Dr. Altig: Since the glare is eliminated, you won't be squinting. Because you're only removing 65% of the light, not 95%, your overall vision will be sharper and clearer. Polarized sunglasses also come with 400 UV protection, which protects your eyes.
How do I know if my polarized sunglasses are high quality?
Dr. Altig: The layman will probably not be able to tell. At our office, when we make a pair, UV protection is checked by a UV meter, where we actually put the lens under the meter and expose it to UV light to test the amount of UV light being filtered out. We also have special images in our office which you can view wearing different sunglasses to see the difference polarized lenses makes.
For example, while wearing regular sunglasses with one image we have, you will see a car driving on a road. The same image viewed with polarized lenses, you will see a child running into the road chasing a ball. The glare prevents the regular sunglasses from seeing the child running into the street. We also have an image where with regular sunglasses you will see a fisherman in a boat on a lake. With the polarized lenses you will also be able to see all the fish inside the water.
When is the best time to purchase polarized sunglasses?
Dr. Altig: You will see better sales in the beginning of the season. For instance, March-June.
If I don't like to wear sunglasses what can happen to my eyes?
Dr. Altig: The biggest problem you will have is the increased probability of cataract formation, which is caused by UV light. Basically, cataracts are unavoidable. If you live on planet Earth, you will get cataracts. What changes is at what point in your life you will have to deal with them, sooner or later? The more UV light someone is exposed to, the sooner surgery will be necessary. Therefore, someone who does not wear sunglasses will need to have cataract surgery much sooner than someone who does.
What is the average age for needing cataract surgery?
Dr. Altig: For people who have worked inside most of their life, it's somewhere between 65-75 years old. For people who work outdoors, the average age is usually between 50-70 years old. The youngest person I sent out to have cataract surgery was 48 years old. He worked outdoors as a fisherman most of his life.