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Prescription glasses causing burns

We received a report regarding some prescription glasses causing sun burns. Has anyone experienced this or something similar? If so, please a comment below.

My daughter wears large framed glasses and has never had an issue with her eye socket experience any sort of sunburn. But after wearing her Oscar Wylee frames, she now has extreme swelling and sunburn in the eye socket only of her glasses, it is as though her glasses have attracted the sun rather than protected her as she has no sunburn anywhere else on her. I’ve contacted Oscar Wylee but they haven’t responded. I’m concerned as whilst it is winter now, I can’t imagine how potentially unsafe they will be in Spring and Summer.

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Is this in regards to prescription sunglasses or clear glasses for vision impairments? If they are clear ones for eyesight correction, there is a good possibility that the lenses may concentrate sunlight such that a sunburn could occur if the sunlight becomes focused by the shape of the lenses (it may depend on where the light is in relation to the lenses on where the concentration may occur). With reading glasses I have at times been able to successfully use them as a magnifying lens to start a fire…

An option may be to get the lenses photochromically coated (sometimes called transition lenses) to become sunglasses in bright light. This may remove the problem.

A Guide to Photochromic Lenses and Transition Lenses (2022) | NVISION Eye Centers (nvisioncenters.com)

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get the lenses treated with a UV filter. Such is usually an option (at a cost) with purchase of prescription glasses. Different optometrists seem to call the filters by different names.

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The following from one well known in the industry suggests the risks and possible remedies are well known.

For as long as I’ve had prescription glasses for driving mostly at night, I’ve been advised to have two pairs. One with clear lenses for night time and a seperate suitably treated pair for daytime use. The possibility of eye damage from UV is real. It may be that as a user there is a need to be better informed and for the suppliers to advise accordingly.

Has there been a failure of understanding in the selection of the lenses or an oversight by Oscar Wylee the Optometrist in advising on the suitability of the product purchased?

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Thanks for sharing these experiences. The report indicated that these were UV coated prescription lenses that had still caused a burn (question whether the coating was correctly applied).

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Even if UV coated, what may appear as UV caused sunburn could be a burn caused by light being magnified onto the area of skin. UV protection will not stop this occurring, only a shading with sunglasses or with a chromic chemical coating is likely to avoid this heat burn and as @phb rightly points out, a wide brimmed hat. Big lenses offer much more area for light to pass through at an angle that can focus the light much like a magnifying glass, big lenses while a fashion trend may not be a good mix when out and about in bright sunlight.

The prescription may have changed, more or less cylinder and spherical, more or less concave or convex. The angle of incidence of light hitting other parts of the lenses could alter where light is magnified through the larger lens onto skin areas.

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If it is magnification of sunlight through the lens (which could be infrared and some of the visible light spectrum rather than UV), it shows the importance of ‘slap on a hat’ if one is wearing prescription glasses outdoors. A wide brim hat will shade the face/lens, protecting the eyes.

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An update on the issue:

Oscar Wylee has finally replied and said that there is a deviation of 8-9% of protection typically. But that for their UV and added coatings they only apply them to the external part of lenses for prescription lenses. But for sunglasses they apply it to both sides given the assumption that they will be used outdoors. So they feel the sunburn was caused by reflections from the back of the lenses as it isn’t coated. They then suggested that she should wear prescription sunglasses and that because her lenses are strong they would not be able to be thinned as much as her prescription standard glasses and for the coating to be applied. This is somewhat confusion as they then offered to add the coating to the back of [the] lenses.

As a long term prescription lens wearer, I can’t recall ever receiving any safety advice or warnings regarding potential burns from lenses but I might be wrong there. There were some photos supplied and the burns looked relatively severe, so maybe there is a gap in advice along the way? Alternatively if some providers are only coating one side, then that may also be something that requires checking for spec wearers.

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