Every year, ophthalmic lens technology seems to advance dramatically.
Here’s the best glasses technology that seems to be trending in 2018 based upon new tech that’s come out as well as discussion with patients in the exam room.
1) Blue light filtering lens options
We’ve all heard a lot about blue light with regard to everything from circadian rhythm disruption to potential implications in macular degeneration. Blue light, the high energy component of white light, can be found in most light sources from the sun to fluorescent bulbs to electronic screens. Given the amount of screen time the average person engages with, we as optometrists need to keep up with the research being done on this topic and should consider recommending options for blue light protection to our patients. The potential implications in macular damage, sleep disruption and a myriad of other downstream complications from excessive exposure make blue light protection an important topic of discussion within our offices and with our patients.
Blue light protection can come from many forms. The options listed below focus on filtering out wavelengths of blue light (between 415nm and 455nm – that believed to be harmful) 1, while allowing the beneficial wavelengths to pass through. Some blue light exposure, especially early in the day, is necessary in order to optimize the sleep/wake cycles – so blocking all blue light is not the answer!
Blue light filtering lenses and coatings: There are many different lenses and anti-glare treatments out there that focus on blocking harmful blue light. Some that I am familiar with include – Essilor’s Essential Blue SeriesTM lenses , VSP’s TechShield™ Blue, Essilor’s Crizal® Prevencia® and Hoya’s Recharge.
Transitions/Photochromics: Yes, your tried and true photochromics already filter out blue light! Transitions® Signature® VII Lenses, for example, will filter out 40% more blue light than a clear plastic lens when indoors, while also reducing blue light exposure 800% more when outdoors.2
Keep in mind that the sun has significantly more intense blue light than a digital device, but most of us spend much more time indoors on screens than we do outdoors in the sun. So, if a patient wears a Transitions lens, they do not necessarily need a blue filtering anti-reflective coating, however the effects would be cumulative if one were added.
2) Lenses for the modern millennial
With the average millennial spending an increasing amount of time working on computers or immersed in digital media, eye strain has become a common complaint in my office. In order to combat that, I have found myself prescribing Essilor’s EyezenTM+ and Hoya’s Sync lenses.
These are digital lens solutions that come with a variety of add powers you can utilize based upon patient age and or need. These lenses have a distinct lens design with an almost imperceptible change in near power to alleviate digital eye strain for patients of any pre/early presbyopic age. Eyezen+ lenses not only help provide relief for digital eye strain, but offer protection against harmful blue light and sharper vision thanks to a digital aspheric design. This is a great lens option for millennial patients who spend ample time on digital devices, who are also interested in a lens that offers blue light filtering properties. Eyezen+ lenses can also be combined with a Crizal® anti-reflective coating for maximum protection and comfort. Hoya Sync can have a Recharge anti-reflective coating added to it as well for additional benefits.
3) Enhanced Progressives:
HOYALUX TACT while not quite new technology, are growing in popularity as screen time continues to increase. With a wider intermediate area for prolonged computer use, this lens design is ideal for patients who spend a significant amount of their day on the computer but may need to see clearly across an office as well. I prescribe them most commonly for emmetropic presbyopes who are tired of taking their reading glasses on and off constantly as they move around their workspace.
This is a pair patients can wear primarily for work and can leave them on to walk around the office. Taking things a step further is the Varilux® X series™ lens which does utilize new technology to address one of the most common complaints of progressive lens wearers: small reading area seen only with seemingly unnatural head postures. These lenses were created specifically for the modern visual needs of patients, resulting in a lens that maximizes the range of sharp vision needed at arm’s length by utilizing Essilor’s Xtend™ Technology.
4) Enhanced Light Adaptive Lenses:
Some complaints of photochromic lens wearers generally included slow dark to light change, lack of tint behind a car windshield, and association with the older age demographic. Advancements in technology has allowed these lenses to turn darker than before, faster than before, and with some models, darken behind a windshield of a car Transitions® XTRActive® lenses. Hoya’s new Sensity Shine or Transitions XTRActive style mirrors offer new types of mirror coatings that activate in different lighting conditions.
These new photochromic advancements are trying to appeal to a younger, more fashion conscious audience. With better technology, an increasing number of color and mirror options, the technology in photochromatic lenses is even more impressive.
As our lifestyles change, so does ophthalmic lens technology to meet our changing needs and desires. As optometrists, patients will be coming to you wanting solutions for their visual concerns and now more than ever, and we have ample tools to offer.
- Arnault E, Barrau C, Nanteau C, Gondouin P, Bigot K, Viénot F, Gutman E, Fontaine V, Villette T, Cohen-Tannoudji D, Sahel JA, Picaud S. “Phototoxic action spectrum on a retinal pigment epithelium model of age-related macular degeneration exposed to sunlight normalized conditions.” PLoS One. 2013 Aug 23;8(8):e71398. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0071398. eCollection 2013.