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Specialty eye-wear: Work, driving and safety glasses

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Specialty eye-wear — spectacles designed specifically for certain tasks — can help you optimise your vision for nearly any scenario.

While "one size fits all" might be true in some situations, it's rare that one pair of glasses, (just like foot wear), is going to be adequate for all activities of a busy modern lifestyle.

Examples of specialty eye-wear include computer glasses, driving glasses and protective eye-wear.

The most common reasons for purchasing specialty eye-wear include:

  • For a specific activity such as computer use, work, hobbies, sports or driving.

  • To see better in general.

  • For the safety features that create an increased enjoyment of sports by protecting eyes from harm.

  • For cosmetic reasons or because the wearer wants a different look.

Can you benefit from specialty eye-wear? The descriptions below should help you decide.

Computer glasses

The more time you spend at a computer, the more you risk developing eye-strain and other symptoms of computer vision syndrome.

That's because during computer use, your eyes must remain focused and perfectly aligned at a specific distance for long periods of time. Also, viewing the light-emitting display of a computer or other digital device tires your eyes more quickly than reading an ink-on-paper book, magazine or newspaper.

Glasses for computer use are designed specifically for intermediate and close-up distances, the zones most associated with computer use.

Computer-specific eye-wear gives you the best correction for these distances and helps you avoid what's becoming known as "digital eye strain" — eye fatigue and discomfort that can be associated with the use of computers, smartphones and other digital devices. In addition using the wrong glasses may mean you crane your head forward and this can lead to symptoms of neck, shoulder or even back pain.

If you're over age 40 and have presbyopia, out-dated bifocals just won't cut it because these lenses have only two sections of the lens which are dedicated to "distance" or "near" and don't cater for the "intermediate" distance typically used for viewing computers and digital devices.

A better solution is a special pair of computer glasses with "extended focus" lenses specifically prescribed to work for these intermediate viewing distances, or specialty "office" or "computer" progressive lenses that have a large section of the lens designed for this distance.

Your optometrist can help you choose the best design for computer glasses, based on your specific needs.

Whatever lens design you choose, your computer glasses should include anti-reflection coating.

Anti-reflection (AR) coating eliminates distracting reflections on your lenses that can increase your risk for digital eye strain.

Also, consider photochromic lenses for your computer glasses. These light-sensitive lenses protect your eyes from UV radiation and increase contrast by filtering blue light emitted by computers and digital devices.

Specialty eye-wear for work and hobbies

Some people discover that their regular glasses are suitable for everything they do except for certain tasks associated with their job or hobbies.

For example, if you wear progressive lenses, you may find that you need to tip your head back for certain tasks as the reading zone is in the bottom of the lenses. You can avoid neck discomfort by purchasing special work glasses that have the vision you need placed higher up in the lenses.

Special-design lenses for work-related tasks often are called occupational lenses.

If your hobbies include anything requiring intense focusing on fine details at very close distances, a separate pair of reading glasses may be helpful — perhaps with stronger lenses than you normally would use for reading.

If both your eyes need the same correction, then you can purchase pairs of ready-made reading glasses, also called "readers," almost anywhere: pharmacies, bookstores and even newsagents.

If each of your eyes has a different correction need, which is very common, then you'll want to order a custom pair of glasses from your optometrist to accurately address the prescription needs of each eye.

Of course, safety glasses are a must to protect your eyes from flying debris when you are working with power tools as well as hand tools such as hammers and saws.

Sports eye-wear

By changing the lens tint of sunglasses, you can improve your visual acuity on the tennis court, golf course or the slopes.

Sport-specific eye-wear can enhance performance by improving visual clarity while protecting your eyes from injury. Within this category, you'll find both glasses and sunglasses with impact-resistant polycarbonate or Trivex lenses.

Sport glasses, sport contact lenses and protective sports eye-wear all are great options for athletes.

Driving glasses

Driving glasses come in two categories: sunglasses designed specifically for driving and prescription glasses. Sunglasses for driving feature polarised lenses that reduce reflected glare and make it easier to see in bright sunlight.

Drivers who have been in accidents often claim that they couldn't see the other car or a pedestrian because of glare reflecting off the road or the sun shining in their eyes, studies have shown that glare can be a causative factor in car accidents.

Polarised sunglass lenses reduce glare and make it easier to see in bright conditions, and polarised lenses tinted specifically for driving increase contrast for sharper vision.

Prescription spectacles for driving should always include anti-reflection coating. AR coating reduces ghosting from light reflecting off the front and back surfaces of your lenses and allows more light to enter your eyes for better vision when driving at night.

Safety eye-wear

Many people buy specialty eye-wear for increased eye safety. This eye-wear can be in the form of safety glasses or sports goggles.

Safety eye-wear is made of ultra-durable materials and provides more coverage than regular glasses, especially when the frame has a wraparound design or includes top and side shields. Many safety frames also include spring hinges for added durability.

All safety eye-wear should include lightweight, impact-resistant polycarbonate or Trivex lenses for comfort and superior eye protection.

Specialty eye-wear for fun and fashion

Maybe you want more than one pair of spectacles simply so you can match your eye-wear to different outfits or moods.

To help you find the frames that will look best on you, you might want to read these articles next:

How to select frames that compliment your face shape

How to choose glasses that match your personality and lifestyle

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