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Managing light to your eyes' advantage

Light comes from all sides these days — from the sun directly, reflected off surfaces or from digital devices. While it can make us feel happy in moderation, extended exposure can open us up to the effects of UV rays or digital eye strain. That's why it's important to understand light and how to manage it.

Different light sources, different effects

How does light from the sun behave differently than light from your digital screen? And what does that mean for your eyes? Think of this section as a little exercise in light reconnaissance. You need to know what you're dealing with if you want to manage it effectively.

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The sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays come in 2 forms of energy: UV-A and UV-B. UV-A exposure affects the retina, the light-sensitive layer behind the eye that forms images in the brain. UV-B is absorbed by the cornea and lens at front of the eyes. These rays can cause eye strain, macular degeneration (vision loss), cataracts or corneal sunburn.1

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Digital devices

60% of us spend 6+ hours in front of computer monitors, phones, tablets and flat screens. All this exposure can put strain on our eyes and may be linked to blurred vision, dry eye and headaches.2 Further, screens emanate high energy blue light. It's part of the natural light spectrum, but could contribute to retinal damage when viewed in close proximity for long periods of time.3

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Indoor light

The light from fluorescent and LED bulbs as well as flat-screen televisions passes through the cornea and lens in front of the eyes and then reaches the retina, the light-reacting layer behind the eye that forms images. The intensity of this light can cause eye irritation and headaches.4

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How are you managing light?

Take a quick inventory of the light you're exposed to and how it makes you feel. You might be surprised.

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It seems you're not very light sensitive, but you should manage your exposure.

Good for you! Light does not cause you much discomfort, but you should still take preventive measures to protect your eyes. The potential damage from the sun's rays and other sources still exists. Ask your eye doctor about what options may be right for you.

Product tips from the pros

Target Optical

There are several lenses and lens options on the market to help you manage light. Here are a few recommendations from Target Optical®.

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Sun Lenses

Sunglasses with 100% UV protection will shield your eyes from the sun's potentially harmful rays. For longer wear and protection, ask about scratch-, glare- and smudge-resistant lenses.

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Photochromic Lenses

Perfect for those with a prescription who move in and out of sunlight frequently, these lenses include technology that adjusts to the surrounding light. Think: Transitions® lenses.

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Digital/Device- Responsive Lenses

Lenses with blue light-filtering technology or wider viewing areas could help shield your eyes from eye strain, dry eye and other potential effects of extended digital device use.

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Anti-Reflective Coating

This lens treatment covers the front and back of the lenses to eliminate reflections and block glare. Other treatment options include UV protection, scratch resistance and smudge resistance.

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Uv Protection on Clear Lenses

Yes, clear lenses can still provide complete UV protection from the sun's rays. Be sure to choose lenses with a rating of at least UV400; this means they'll block 99.9% of UV rays.

Ask your eye doctor

Even if light doesn't bother your eyes, it's a good idea to talk with your eye doctor during your annual exam about managing exposure to different types of light. Your doctor can recommend lens options to protect your eyes and vision based on your lifestyle and work. Here are some questions to start the conversation.

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What are the symptoms of too much light exposure?

Unmanaged, adverse reactions to light are usually the result of other conditions, including migraine headaches, eye inflammation or disease, medications, eye surgery, aging or allergies. Also, pale-colored eyes are naturally more sensitive to light.6

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How much protection do my eyes need from the sun?

Even if the sun doesn't bother your eyes, its UV rays still pass through them to the retinas, the layers behind the eyes that form images in the brain. Long-term exposure could lead to vision loss, while in the short-term sunlight can cause an actual eye sunburn. Lenses with UV-protection are recommended in the sun.

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I spend a lot of time in front of a computer and indoors. What does this mean for my eyes?

Computer screens and other digital devices, as well as fluorescent lights, can impact your eyes. Managing the light intensity, or wearing device-responsive lenses, could reduce the risk of eye irritation and dry eye.

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Switching between prescription glasses and sunglasses isn’t always feasible. What options do I have?

Photochromic lenses, like Transitions®, are akin to artificial intelligence for the eyes. The lenses are equipped with light-sensitive photochromic dyes that immediately start to darken when exposed to the sun's ultraviolet rays. Once out of the sun, the lenses fade back to clear.7 Ask your eye doctor if Transitions® lenses may be right for you.

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This is an advertisement. * This quiz is not medical advice. A complete diagnosis of light sensitivity is not possible using online testing–consult an eye care professional for more information. These material are designed to provide general information regarding health care topics, do not constitute professional advice nor establish any standard of care and are provided without representations or warranties of any kind. Quotations, photos and video are not from actual patients and your experience may be different. Your treating health care professionals are solely responsible for diagnosis, treatment and medical advice. The eye care professionals in your plan are independent practitioners who exercise independent professional judgment and over whom EyeMed has no control or right of control. They are not agents or employees of EyeMed. Eye care professionals do not take the place of your physician 1 “How Can UV Rays Damage Your Eyes?”; Prevent Blindness; https://www.preventblindness.org/how-can-uv-rays-damage-your-eyes; accessed February 2020. 2 “2016 Digital Eye Strain Report,” The Vision Council. 3 “Blue Light and Your Eyes”; Prevent Blindness; https://www.preventblindness.org/blue-light-and-your-eyes; accessed February 2020. 4 Ibid; accessed February 2020. “Blue light: It's both bad and good for you”; by Gary Heiting; AllABoutVision.com; November 2017; https://www.allaboutvision.com/cvs/blue-light.htm; accessed February 2020. “Photophobia (light sensitivity)”; by Gretchyn Bailey; AllABoutVision.com; January 2018; https://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/lightsensitive.htm; accessed February 2020. 5 Ibid; accessed February 2020. 6 “Sensitive to light? Blame your blue eyes,” https://www.essilorusa.com/newsroom/sensitive-to-light-blame-your-blue-eyes; accessed February 2020. 7 "Transitions: Light Under Control," Essilor, https://www.essilorusa.com/products/transitions/faq; Accessed April 19, 2019 WWW-1912-M-1002