STARING at the sun too much using his most recent invention -- the 1609 refracting “Galilean” telescope -- was said to have resulted in Italian astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei’s blindness, but while this is a cautionary tale against the harmful effects of the sun on the eyes, this tale is quite untrue as Galileo’s sight began to deteriorate in 1636 when he was 68, and he went completely blind the next year, but not before discovering that the moon wobbles on its axis (lunar libration).
Historical accounts say that his blindness was caused by cataracts, which are often associated with aging, while some have suggested he suffered from corneal disease or glaucoma (“Galileo Galilei,” www.college-optometrist.org).
Still, one should not discount the fact that the sun can harm the eyes.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) warned the public in June 2013 “that overexposure to these rays can burn the eyes’ corneas and cause painful, temporary blindness,” and continuous and long-term unprotected eyes can contribute to conditions such as macular degeneration, tumors and cataracts (so Galileo might actually HAVE gone blind by staring too much at the sun).
“In far too many cases, people think that a little redness on the skin is not a big deal; but, consider what that burn could feel like on your extremely thin and delicate corneas,” said Philip R. Rizzuto, M.D., the organization’s secretary for communications in the news release.
One of AAO’s suggestions to protect one’s eyes is to wear sunglasses that offer 100% Ultraviolet (UV) Light protection that blocks both UVA and UVB as these are what damages one’s eye.
To that end, Transitions Optical has released its newest photochromic lens -- the Transitions Signature Lenses (seventh generation) -- that sports various improvements from its predecessor as well as coming in different shades.
“Photochromic lenses in a nutshell means lenses that change color when exposed to sunlight,” said Lance Lim, marketing manager, in a press briefing late last year. These lenses provide protection by reacting to UV light and changing the color of the lenses during appropriate situations.
According to its fact sheet, the new lens has been tested in more than 1,000 scenarios through the company’s special methodology.
Mr. Lim said that the previous generation of lenses turned dark more easily in places with colder climates than in places with tropical climates like the Philippines.
“Heat is not the trigger, in fact, heat makes it less reactive,” he said, noting that with this generation, which utilizes its own Chromea7 technology, the lenses respond easily even in hotter weathers and are now less affected by temperature -- even in extreme weather conditions -- and fades back to “clear” from “dark” faster than the previous generations based on the company’s in-house tests.
“[Transitions lenses] is meant for everyday use… it’s not a specialty lens that you wear only when you go golfing or play sports -- it’s meant for everyday use,” Mr. Lim said, adding that “the lenses are never going to be as dark as [sunglasses] and are not supposed to be compared to sunglasses actually because… you don’t wear sunglasses the whole day.”
Transition Lenses can also be worn by those who do not need corrective lenses and might be wearing a non-graded one for aesthetics and other purposes.
Currently, Transitions Signature Lenses (whose biggest Asian market is currently Taiwan) come in either gray or brown and are recommended for a “variety of ages including active children.”
They are currently available at all authorized eye care practitioners in a range of material and designs. For more information, visit www.transitions.com/en-ph. -- Z. B. Chua
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