As Always, written entirely by Ric Peralta, The Optical Jedi
I’ve previously written a bit on the importance of having blue light filtration, specifically focusing on children. Today, I’d like to talk a little more about one specific manufacturer of this technology and the additional features associated with their product.
What’s the Deal with Blue Light Again?
There have been many studies and articles regarding Blue Light. Much of the modern concern with Blue Light is our increased exposure from digital devices. All screens (even old fashioned CRT tube style TV’s) emit HEV, or High Energy Violet. This is the visible portion of blue light, just above Ultra Violet in the wavelength spectrum. While the blue sky of daytime is still the largest single source of HEV, it’s the use of digital devices constantly in our environment which speaks to the greatest change in our exposure since the beginning of time.
The two major concerns that have developed about Blue Light are: Impacting our sleep patterns, and the high energy emissions causing damage to our eyes. The science has come back truly differentiating these two concerns. The blue light closer to 495 nanometers has a greater impact in our circadiam rhythms, effecting our sleep patterns. This portion of the blue light does not have high energy and is not a physical concern to the health of the eye. The portion of the blue light which can be quite damaging to our eyes is lower in the spectrum. This visible blue light, just above the Ultra Violet portion is visible, and also highly damaging, similar to UV. Specifically, studies have shown that this High Energy Violet (HEV) light has a cumulative effect across our life-span, increasing the risk of developing Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). Macular Degeneration is a irreversible form of blindness. Once it begins, all we can hope is to slow it down.
The Macula is the portion of our retina with the highest concentration of cones. Cones are the color receptors in our retina. We have three types of cones in the human eye, one each for blue, red, and green wavelengths. Macula has the highest concentration of the cones so we can have the most detailed color vision in the center of our vision. Once the Macula becomes damaged through degeneration, blood flow and epidermal damage impact our ability to perceive any images in the center of our vision. The only way for us to effectively track any issues with the tissues of the retina is through retinal imaging in its various forms, which I had previously detailed here.
How is Eyezen+ different?
Essilor produced a lens in the Eyezen+ which takes the reality of our digital device world into consideration when producing the corrective powers in lenses. The Eyezen+ comes in 4 categories, 0, 1, 2, & 3. On top of being a digitally surfaced single vision lens (that is to say the corrective power in the lenses is ground in using lasers which correct to a higher order of magnitude), those numbers (0-3) reference a power shift in the bottom-most portion of the lens to relieve strain for near vision. These are not a replacement for bifocals. In fact, these lenses are not designed for the presbyopic patient, but to help relieve the strain of looking up close through lenses designed to correct for distance vision.
This means, as your eyecare professional, we can take a variety of issues into consideration to help give you the most comfortable distance AND near vision, while also protecting your eyes from the HEV exposure concerns which have recently come to light.
I have been fitting these types of lenses now for almost 3 years to very great success. Whenever a new lens technology becomes available, I’m hesitant to fit my patients with it, until I have had an opportunity to test the wearing experience of the product. Since I was already wearing full progressives when this product was introduced to me, I used my wife as the guinea pig. At the time she was mid-30’s, with a decently strong near-sighted correction. She is a teacher, so she spends a lot of time on her computer lesson planning, grading, etc. I even went so far as to make sure the prescription and frames were identical to her previous pair. When she first put them on, she literally said to me, “What’s different?” She could not tell I had changed anything. I was pleased hearing this. An ideal fit on the Eyezen+ lens should not feel like you’re looking through a multifocal or feel different in anyway. After wearing them for a week, she didn’t want to wear her old glasses anymore. In her words, “they just feel better.”
Eyezen lenses are designed to relax your eye, and leave you feeling less tired at the end of the day and they do truly deliver on this promise…as long as you are fit into the right version of the Eyezen.
Choosing the Number (0, 1, 2, or 3?)
The Eyezen categories are designed to assist with the comfort of near vision, while still maintaining the best distance vision possible. (Age ranges here are only a guideline for selection)
Eyezen lenses come in several power shifts to make near vision as comfortable as possible, and to accommodate as many age ranges as possible (before needing full blown near correction of Progressive Lenses). While Essilor has given some guidelines on fitting age for each power amount, I have found through fitting these lenses over the last several years that their guidelines are not entirely accurate.
For example, I have yet to have a single patient adapt to the Eyezen+ 3. My educated guess is that it’s too much of a change without going through a mid-range power to make it comfortable. I’ve heard complaints of dizziness or feeling like patients’ feet are hard to see. Full progressive powers are actually a better fit if your correction falls into this range. Progressives can come with as little as a +0.75 reading addition, which is even less than the Eyezen+ 3. And it’s a far more comfortable approach. As a matter of fact, my first progressive was with this Reading Addition and I am of the honest opinion that progressives are much easier to adapt to, if you get them as soon as your reading correction crosses this threshold.
In addition, there can be other factors to proper Eyezen power selection. If you have any issues with focusing up close, we might want to move you to a higher number, if you are making your reading glasses into an Eyezen, we might want to give you an Eyezen+ 0 since you don’t need any additional near strength. Or perhaps we want to get creative on making a computer lens for you, then we could give you a mid-range correction for the majority of your lens and add the reading boost to the bottom to be almost like an inexpensive computer progressive solution.
This versatile lens can really be manipulated by your optician to do many things, depending on your individual needs…all while also protecting you from those harmful High Energy Violet wavelengths.
In general, the guidelines I prefer to follow for Eyezen+ lenses are as follows:
Age 1-11: Eyezen+ 0
Age 12-25: Eyezen+ 1
Age 26-45: Eyezen+ 2
Never Eyezen+ 3
What about other products like Gunnar?
There are other companies addressing the need for Blue Light protection. While they will help protect you from the harmful HEV, most of the other solutions I’ve come across go for too broad a spectrum of blue light and truly change the way the world looks to you, and also makes the yellow of the lens much more noticeable. Gunnar is one such solution. And to a slightly lesser extent so is the Crizal Prevencia from Essilor. While these products will protect you from a higher percentage of HEV, they also get some of the blue light that is beneficial to our circadian rhythms. I have worn these products and I actually found that they made me feel very tired. I had this sensation even before the research had come in on the importance to the turquoise blue light and keeping us on the right wake/sleep cycle.
There is at least one other product I’ve tested which I think does just as good (if not better) job at protecting against the dangers of HEV. The Blue Light Protection lenses from Maui Jim Ophthalmic lenses is incredible. However, at least at this time, they do not have the added value of the near vision assist that Eyezen does.
If you want to maximize your Blue Light protection, pairing a product like Eyezen with Transitions will give you the best possible protection from Blue Light.
If you have not graduated to the use of Full Progressives, or if you have children (with or without prescription), I can’t recommend highly enough getting glasses which filter HEV, such as the Eyezen+ technology. The cumulative effect of HEV has an adverse on the health of the eye and can contribute to the likelihood of developing Age-Related Macular Degeneration, which is an irreversible form of blindness. Our children today are at the greatest risk, since they are being raised on digital devices, and these screens now dominate the classroom as well. Ask your optician about Eyezen today.
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