Attempts to make the dangers of ultraviolet (UV) radiation to the eye and how to avoid them clearer to the public would be a significant step forward.
This was one of the findings agreed by a panel assembled by Optician last week for an Essilor-supported roundtable. The panel comprised optometrists and dispensing opticians with a variety of clinical and academic experience, along with a secondary education teacher and a consultant ophthalmologist.
The discussion focused on definitions of UV. Optometrist and British Standards committee member Ronald Rabbetts stated that while the definitions for UVC (200-280nm) and UVB (280-315nm) were well established, there was still an issue of the exact definition of UVA. Ophthalmic standards defined it as 315-380nm while the CIE definition gave the cut-off point with visible light as 400nm.
This meant that CR39 transmitted just 7 per cent under the former definition as opposed to 45 per cent if calculated to the latter definition. Also, 'in-practice' dye application for tinting lenses may not offer acceptable control over the levels of protection.
Optometrist Sajal Patel felt that there was a need for better information for eye care practitioners (ECPs) about the UV transmission characteristics of different lenses if patients were to become more aware of the need for protection.
Therapeutic optometrist Peter Frampton noted that awareness of the dangers of UV, firstly on the skin and then on the eye, had taken some time in his native Australia but now protection was becoming second nature.
He felt ECPs were ideally placed to help deliver the health message and to offer the best eye protection solutions.
Teacher Dr William Vousden suggested that the curriculum in secondary science education meant most teenagers were aware of the general dangers of UV but stated that schools would welcome 'with open arms' ECPs able to offer talks to children about the ocular impact.
Andy Hepworth, professional relations manager for Essilor, suggested that an Eye-Sun Protection Factor (E-SPF) Index, as proposed by his company, could benefit practitioners and patients alike.
The panel agreed that, if the index was calculated in a way that was standardised so a number could be ascribed to each lens to make comparison possible, it would be welcomed by patients and practitioners.
● Full report in Optician soon.