There are as many types of special eyewear as there are special challenges to your vision. As the monitors on our desks, in our hands, and on our walls have gotten larger, our eyesight continues to worsen. In fact, nearsightedness has been on the rise since the 1970s. But that's only one of the many hurdles our peepers will have to vault in their journey from cradle to grave.
Special computer glasses are now available, for the 70 percent of the population that now routinely complain of eyestrain. These differ from regular eyeglasses or reading glasses in a number of ways to optimize your eyesight when viewing your computer screen. Computer glasses from Gunnar Optiks include special lens coatings to reduce glare and a tint designed to eliminate eye strain.
If you have avoided wearing eyeglasses because your poor vision is such that you feared the eyewear would be “coke bottle” thick, try high-index lenses. These are thinner and lighter than traditional lenses. Another option may be aspheric lenses, which are thinned out on the sides. Or ask your ophthalmologist about combo high-index/aspheric glasses which marry the best of both technologies.
If you're wearing sunglasses for sports, consider colored lenses that may enhance vision for your particular sport. Yellow lenses, popular with skiers and snowboarders, cyclists, and indoor athletes like basketball players and racquetball players, may help in low light or haze to provide a sharper image.
Green lenses, rather counter-intuitively, may make the ball stand out better for golfers and baseball players. They do this by heightening contrast while still keeping the balance of colors.
For those of you who prefer your balls hurtling towards your head at speeds up to 150 mph – that is, racquetball players – your best bet may be sports frames with polycarbonate plastic lenses. These are 10 times stronger than other materials and polycarbonate material has the benefit of built-in ultraviolet (UV) protection as well.
Protection against UV rays should not solely be the province of racquetball players, however. Harmful UV rays can pass through clouds, so sunglasses are a must for everyone, on most every kind of day. Look for sunglasses with 99 or 100 percent UVA and UVB blocking.
Photochromic lenses are an option when you need glasses but don't want to also buy prescription sunglasses. They are clear indoors and darken automatically in bright sunlight, and block 100 percent of harmful UV rays.
If you swim with the dolphins, or even just with the other old people at the local YMCA pool, it's tough to reconcile with your prescription eyewear. One option is goggles or scuba masks custom-made for your vision. You may need a slightly different prescription for underwater use, because goggles can sit a little closer to your eyes than regular lenses, and a mask sits further away.
Finally, stats show that 90 percent of the over 2,000 eye-related injures suffered each year on the job could be prevented by wearing eye protection. These injuries – caused by chemicals, foreign objects in the eye, steam burns, radiation exposure, and contagious diseases – would mostly all be thwarted by non-prescription safety goggles.