Feb 2017 5While travelling on the Gautrain recently, an optometrist overheard a conversation between two other passengers.

“I have just collected my new glasses from my optometrist,” said one of the men. “I can see clearly with them, but I find that glare really bothers me.”

“Didn’t you discuss that with your optometrist, and couldn’t he recommend something to deal with your problem?” asked his companion.

“He made a number of good suggestions to improve my experience with my new glasses, but none of them are covered by my medical aid, so I decided against them.”

Making a decision based primarily on what is covered by medical aid may be false economy. Glasses are often an expensive item, but making a co-payment that will not be too taxing on the pocket may be worthwhile in the long run. Lens coatings can improve the performance, longevity, durability and appearance of your lenses, as well as provide necessary protection for both your lenses and your eyes.

Feb 2017 6At the very least one should consider a hard coating, which will protect the lenses from excessive scratching, and thus help to maintain clear effective vision until new glasses are due to be covered by medical aid a year or two down the line. Apart from being irritating, scratched lenses interfere with vision, often leading to eye strain or headaches. While no lenses are completely scratch-proof, treating them with a hard coating front and back will make them more scratch resistant.

Feb 2017 7It is advisable, particularly with certain prescriptions, to add an anti-reflective coating to lenses. This will virtually eliminate reflections on the front and back surfaces of the glasses, allowing more light through the lenses, optimising visual acuity, and reducing glare. It is particularly effective while driving at night, with street lights and headlights of oncoming cars reflecting off the lenses. An added benefit is the improved appearance of the glasses and the ability to make better eye contact with others.

While sunglasses cut down on ambient light and harmful UVA and UVB rays from the sun, only polarised lenses can eliminate the glare from light reflected off the road, bonnet of the car, or surface of water. This glare may be annoying or uncomfortable at times, but it can be blinding and dangerous when the reflection is at a particular angle. Some optometrists believe that polarised lenses are not an option, but a necessity, particularly for people who do a lot of long distance driving.

Thanks to LED lights and the radiation from digital devices, we are exposed to more blue light now than in the past. Blue light filter coatings on lenses can play an important role in protecting our eyes from its effects, minimising the harmful portion of blue light while allowing the good portion of blue light to pass through. Filtering blue light while working on the computer cuts down screen brightness and flickering, reducing the symptoms of eye fatigue and strain.

Feb 2017 8Taking into account that medical aids usually cover only the basic essentials, a frank discussion with your optometrist will help you decide if it would be worth adding to the cost of your glasses.

I Only Have Eyes For You