By Troy Patterson
An increasing number of Canadians are expected to buy technologies that protect their eyes from blue light both as education spreads about the potential dangers of the high-energy light and consumers spend more time in front of electronic devices that emit the light.
And lens manufacturers have taken the challenge to protect consumers in stride by offering an increasing variety of blue light-protecting lenses and coatings to better equip people with the tools they need to reduce the negative impacts of blue-violet light.
Long-term impacts from additional digital and natural blue light exposure amongst this generation could see an increase in diseases like age-related macular degeneration, which makes prevention a priority among eye care professionals and lens manufacturers.
Optical Prism recently touched base with Essilor, HOYA, Transitions, Centennial and Plastic Plus to see how they’re tackling the challenge of offering what consumers want – affordable and useful blue light protection, rolled into the everyday use of their prescription lenses and sunglasses.
Take for instance Essilor’s Eye Protect System, which offers eyeglass wearers an optimal protection against harmful blue-violet light and UV rays.
The company’s Smart Blue Filter absorbs 20 per cent of harmful blue violet light, while transmitting beneficial blue turquoise light, but is appears clear.
The company says its Broad Spectrum Technology is a “breakthrough and unique technology protecting against UV rays,” with lens materials that protect from up to 100 per cent of front UV exposure and up to 50 per cent of total UV exposure received.
In terms of high-tech protection, Crizal Prevencia and its unique Light Scan technology are the result of 20 years of research and development expertise on selective light filtration.
“It filters out 20 per cent of the harmful blue-violet light which is the highest protection on the market today,” says Essilor’s Sakina Barrault. “The efficiency was proven by in vitro tests. That level of protection could alleviate the cumulative risk of AMD.”
Crizal is the only brand offering a full range of backside UV protection for clear or sun lenses and if combined with Varilux, Eyezen and Transitions lenses, up to 45 per cent of harmful blue-violet light can be blocked indoors and up to 88 per cent outdoors. It also protects against UV rays, glare, scratches, smudges, dust and water.
“As the Canadian population is growing and our digital devices usage is increasing, so are the needs for visual correction and protection, as well as eye disease prevention,” Barrault says.
HOYA‘s focus for 2018 is on its Recharge lens, an anti-reflective treatment that deflects blue light away from the eyes, while ensuring the portion needed for optimal contrast and other health benefits still passes through the lens.
“Recharge reduces blue light by about 30 per cent in the HEV light range,” says Maria Petruccelli, director of brand marketing, HOYA Vision Care. “It increases contrast and visual sharpness, reduces glare and provides a measure of protection from blue light risks. It also provides HOYA AR quality on physical attributes, including adhesion, scratch resistance, longevity and cleanability.”
Smartphones, tablets, computers and televisions have become a vital part of modern lives, whether it’s at work, studying or relaxing with them. However the downside to being constantly connected is that research is showing that device-emitted blue light waves can also cause eyestrain, headaches and fatigue.
HOYA’s Recharge lens coating helps to combat these effects. It provides effective blue light protection, ensuring extra comfort in a digital world.
“The eye loses its ability to absorb rays harmlessly and releases them as free radicals,” Petruccelli says. “Recharge adds a new health dimension to the benefits ascribed to lens coatings.”
Because Recharge helps to protect against the accumulated potential harmful effects of blue light, it may be prescribed for HEV light reduction to lower the long-term risk of blue light associated with retinal damage and cataracts, she says.
Over at Transitions, the company has made lenses that seamlessly adapt to the perfect tint, in any light.
Their lenses block 100 per cent of UV rays and help reduce exposure to blue light emitted by both the sun and electronic devices and screens, reducing eye strain and eye fatigue.
Indoors, Transitions lenses filter harmful blue light emitted by artificial sources such as digital devices and LED lights. Outdoors, they darken to help provide even more protection from harmful blue light, intense glare and UV rays from the sun.
“The interest in lenses that protect against harmful blue light creates an opportunity for eyecare professionals to educate their patients about the comprehensive indoor and outdoor harmful blue light filtering benefits of Transitions lenses,” says Patience Cook, director, North America marketing, Transitions Optical.
“By offering three product and colour choices within the Transitions family of brands, we are able to uniquely appeal to the different lifestyles and style preferences of a wide range of patients and provide all with reduced exposure to UV and harmful blue light at the same time.”
All Transitions lenses have always offered some degree of harmful blue light protection, with slight differences in the amount of harmful blue light each of the lenses filter.
Transitions Signature VII lenses block at least 20 per cent of the harmful blue light indoors, while Transitions XTRActive lenses help block at least 34 per cent of the harmful blue light indoors and 88 to 95 per cent of harmful blue light outdoors. There are also Transitions Vantage lenses, which reduce exposure to harmful blue light, blocking at least 34 per cent indoors and over 85 per cent outdoors.
Centennial Optical says it’s pleased to offer the widest choice of blue light protection options in an equally wide selection of lens designs, materials and coatings.
“In anti-blue light lens coatings, Centennial offers CHC AR Blocker UV as a custom coating and, through the Centennial Lab Pak program, Nikon SeeCoat Blue UV and SeeCoat Blue Premium coatings on Nikon lenses, in addition to Zeiss’ DuraVision BlueProtect on digitally customized lenses by Carl Zeiss Vision,” says Rick Leroux, Centennial Optical’s director of marketing and communications.
“For the past five years Centennial has offered BluTech indoor and outdoor lenses in finished planos and single vision, semi-finished single vision and bifocals, and digitally customized Kodak progressive lenses.”
Leroux says the indoor lenses have a light tint which mimics the natural ocular lens pigment found in the human eye, while the outdoor lenses are polarized brown sunglass lenses which will provide the highest level of UV and blue light protection in bright sunlight.
Centennial’s CHOICE BluSelect brand is a family of virtually clear lenses that provide in-monomer protection against UV and high energy blue light in six different lens materials: 1.50 and 1.56 index, polycarbonate, 1.60, 1.67 and 1.74 high index, available in finished and semi-finished single vision, and digitally customized progressives, office and anti-fatigue lenses.
For customers looking for a lens offering combined in-monomer blue light filtering and an anti-blue light coating, LeRoux says the hybrid Kodak Total Blue Lens finished single vision lenses in 1.60 index.
Plastic Plus, meanwhile, offers its UV420 technology, which protects wearers from blue light.
The technology distinguishes itself from other blue light products by absorbing harmful light rather than simply reflecting it. In addition, the UV 420 product has no residual colour which allows wearers to have superior blue light protection with clear vision.
Plastic Plus Elite Coating is done using a dip-coating process that ensures better hard-coat adhesion to the AR. It offers improved scratch resistance and is thermally cured which creates higher consistency front to back.
In January 2018, the company moved into its new state-of-the-art lens manufacturing facility, which doubled its manufacturing space and increases production capabilities. The facility will also be able to manufacture lenses with an even higher level of precision and improved technology.
The new lab will offer more automation including increased capacity in surfacing, edging, hard coating and AR coating.
The new equipment is more sophisticated and will allow for more complex macros that will further enhance the visual experience for wearers.