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Driving glasses should protect your eyes from the harmful effects of ultra-violet (UV) radiation, near-UV rays, and reflective glare. Few people realize that UV-A and UV-B rays, the same rays responsible for sunburn, can also burn the retina. While eyes have an amazing ability to heal, studies indicate that chronic burning can lead to deteriorating sight as we age, known as macular degeneration. Another result is cataracts, as the eye battles to protect itself by building up a cloudy shield.
A large percentage of today’s workforce commutes. In states like California, where public transportation is poor and commuting is common, most people drive. Driving can be more stressful on the eyes than one might realize, and a good pair of driving glasses can make that daily commute a lot more pleasant and protect your eyes over the long run.
Therefore, the first job of a good pair of driving glasses is to filter out all UV-A and UV-B sunlight. This is not dependent on the darkness of the lens, but rather on filters. A very dark lens without UV protection can be worse for your eyes than no glasses at all, as the irises will open wider to let in more light, allowing more UV rays in. Therefore, look for driving glasses that block 100% UV-A and UV-B rays. Some driving glasses might also block UV-C rays, but these rays are filtered naturally by the earth’s atmosphere.
Studies also indicate that too much near-UV light may contribute to the same ocular diseases as UV rays. Near-UV light is light just visible in the violet and blue spectrum. Yellow lenses block the entire blue spectrum, but this is unnecessary and distorts true color. Many people also find yellow lenses to be harsh. A better choice might be amber lenses or melanin lenses. Driving glasses with melanin lenses provide good contrast, block 100% UV-A and UV-B and a good portion of the near-UV spectrum, all while maintaining truer color.
Glare is reflected light, especially bothersome when driving. Glare might bounce off the windshields of the cars headed your way in the next lanes, reflect off the back window of the car ahead, or shine off bumpers. Even streets, sidewalks, and buildings generate glare. Polarized driving glasses are made with special filters that block glare, improving sight and reducing eyestrain.
Finally, driving glasses should not allow sunlight to enter your eyes at the sides or top, bypassing the lenses. Look for driving glasses in a wrap-around style that fit your face well and force light to pass through the lenses before entering the eyes.
A pair of driving glasses can range from 30 US Dollars (USD) to over 100, depending on manufacturer and model. Many lenses are made from lightweight polycarbonate, while others are glass. In either case, they’ll look sharp and provide a great deal of relief to your eyes on that daily commute. More importantly, they will help protect your eyes from the dangers of chronic exposure to UV light, near-UV light, and glare.