Optometrists from around the country were reminded about the importance of UV protection for the eyes and surrounding skin at a Zeiss event in South Australia. Additionally, they were informed about a new lens material and coating designed to provide exceptional protection from the most damaging UV rays.
It’s no secret that Zeiss is a company committed to scientific development. At a recent launch at its state of the art premises at the Tonsely Innovation Centre in South Australia, the company revealed its latest innovation – a spectacle lens that provides wearers with protection from UV radiation up to 400 nanometres (nm).
The innovation should be particularly well received in Australia where we enjoy an outdoor lifestyle. According to Zeiss, 62 per cent of Australians do not wear sunglasses when they’re out in the sun – with older and younger Australians being the worst culprits.
“Older Australians are not bothered to wear sunglasses and younger Australians just don’t like them,” said Mark Thyssen, Head of Sales and Marketing of Zeiss Australia and NZ.
That makes clear lenses with UV protection a very good option, however it will require patient education – as Mr. Thyssen said, 90 per cent of people assume clear lenses do not provide any protection from UV.
Physicist Dr. Christian Lappe, who is a member of Zeiss technology and innovation group, reminded attendees about the importance of UV protection and explained the technology behind Zeiss UV Protect.
“Generally, people believe UV is most dangerous in the mid-afternoon but when it comes to the ocular structure that’s not the case. We don’t stare into the sun, and in any case, our eyes are well protected by hair, eyebrows etc.”
He said the high-risk times are in the morning and afternoon when the sun is low and, “you have more direct sunlight coming towards the face and reflected off surfaces – lots of scatter and reflections,” he said. “Sitting in the shade is not really protecting us either, even cloudy days can be dangerous – people feel they are safe but they are not. On a partially cloudy day we can have 70 – 80 per cent UV exposure because there are lots of reflections scattered around,” said Dr. Lappe.
Conversely, he explained, on a clear day, there is not so much scattered light, which makes it safer for the ocular structure.
CATCHING THE SLIPPAGE
Dr. Lappe said that when wearing spectacles, a portion of radiation – up to 10 per cent – slips through between the frame and skin to affect the ocular structure.
“This is something we cannot control; it can come through from the top of the frame, from backside reflection, the sides of the frame and through the lens itself,” he said.
He said backside reflections account for just 5 –10 per cent of the total exposure, making the need to block UV exposure through the lens by far most important.
“It is the combination of coating and the lens material that is so important – the material has to be able to pick up and absorb the UV from both the front and the back of the lens,” said Mr. Thyssen.
Mr. Thyssen said Zeiss’ new UV Protect lenses do exactly that, providing 100 per cent UV protection up to 400 nm – a significant advance on most spectacle lenses, which typically provide protection to 360 – 380 nm. He said UV rays between 380 and 400 nm are responsible for most UV-related eye damage with rays closer to 400 nm penetrating deeper
into the tissue and therefore causing the most damaging.
“Our industry has been shortchanging consumers – we couldn’t deliver 400 nm protection before, but now we can. We need to protect our patients’ eyes – it’s our job – it’s about giving patients the same protection as they get from their sunglasses,” said Mr. Thyssen.
He said the new Zeiss UV Protect lens was slightly different in colour to standard lenses, however against the skin, the difference was imperceptible.
Zeiss has developed a range of materials to support the new technology, including access to a scientific paper, facts sheets, videos, posters, point of sale, fliers, dispensing notes, and window decals. A consumer campaign has been launched that simplifies the message about the importance of UV protection for the eyes.