It is, believe it or not, National Sunglasses Day, a fitting day to review a pair of sunglasses. In an earlier MNN post, I noted that as our eyes age, they lose sensitivity to shorter wavelengths (the blue light), due to "progressive yellowing of the crystalline lens." This is why I prefer cool white light and my younger wife prefers warmer white bulbs.
After writing this, I was approached by a company that makes sunglasses finely tuned to the blue end of the spectrum. Most sunglasses are designed to cut out the harmful ultraviolet light that is beyond blue on the spectrum (remember ROY G BIV?) and cut a lot of visible blue light as well. But the "Happy Lens" from Spy Optic lets more of that blue light through.
They call it the Happy Lens because our bodies sense the changes in the color of natural light through the course of the day, following the circadian rhythm. Our brains have a "master clock" that's an important regulator. As one study put it, "When humans are exposed to a daily dark/light cycle, cyclic production of specific neurohormones and neuropeptides result in changes in sleep and alertness, body temperature and pressure, metabolism, and reproduction."
The Happy Lens was designed to allow that blue light through while still filtering out the dangerous ultraviolet. According to Spy Optic:
Long-wave blue light helps you see better by enhancing color, contrast, and clarity, making colors more vivid and surroundings more defined. Long-wave blue light helps you feel better by stimulating the brain’s production of serotonin to improve mood, increase alertness, and promote a healthy circadian rhythm.
But the issue I wanted to address was this: would the extra blue light make a difference to my boomer eyes? The answer is an unequivocal yes. It was much sharper and vivid, so much so that I preferred looking through these sunglasses than my mild prescription sunglasses.
I'm not convinced about all the circadian rhythm stuff; people do not wear sunglasses all day. However there are studies that show blue light is good for treating seasonal affective disorder and "short wavelength light (blue) has demonstrated potency as a stimulus for acute melatonin suppression and circadian phase shifting."
And there's no question, my aging eyes found these sunglasses to reveal a much brighter, sharper world. (Now if I could only get them back from my daughter, who finds them to be the best sunglasses for driving boats or cars that she's ever used.)
The FDA is peddling National Sunglasses Day for a reason: we should all wear them outside to protect our eyes from ultraviolet light. But make sure that the ones you have are good quality and consider these Happy Lenses. Especially for boomers, that blue light really makes a difference.