Monday, February 20, 2017

Eye Protection

I blogged about the importance of protecting your eyes from UV light while windsurfing last year, and it's time for an update. My reason to look into this was that I had been diagnosed with cataracts. "No big deal, everyone gets them", you might say. Largely true - but my grandmother died during cataract surgery, so there are darn good reasons to delay and avoid it as long as possible.
Cataracts and other eye problems are directly linked to UV exposure. Wearing sunglasses can help a lot, but has a few shortcomings - some UV rays can still enter the eyes from the sides and from reflection on the back side of the lenses; water drops can impair vision; and on partly sunny days, sunglasses can simply be annoying. I did wear either prescription sunglasses or (on cloudy days) non-tinted polycarbonate glasses almost every single day I windsurfed since last year; but my lovely wife often finds sunglasses too bothersome, and sometimes sails unprotected on cloudy and partly sunny days.
Nina speeding on a cloudy day

I have always found contact lenses much more convenient for windsurfing, and used daily disposables for years, so I'm happy to report that I am back to using contacts. But this time around, I went for UV absorbing contact lenses - specifically, Acuvue Oasys 1-Day lenses. They absorb more than 90% of UVA and 99% of UVB, making them the best UV absorbing lenses I could find. Some other contact lenses also have good to very good UV absorption, but most lenses do not - including the ones I had used until last year. I plan to also wear sunglasses on sunny days, and polycarbonate safety glasses on cloudy days; on partially cloudy days, UV exposure can actually be even higher than on sunny days. So far, the protection seems to be working - at this year's eye doctor follow-up, the cataracts seems unchanged relative to last year (after appearing suddenly within the 2 years before that).

So, if you are wearing contacts while windsurfing, double-check that they offer UV protection. If not, talk to your eye doctor about getting a different kind for windsurfing. If you prefer to use glasses, I can recommend the sports frames from They are not pretty, but have worked well for me for more than 100 sessions so far, and you can get a pair of polarized prescription sunglasses for about $110.

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