46 Sunglasses for macular degeneration & EASY decision rules


Sunglasses and Glasses for macular degeneration AMDFinding the right sunglasses for macular degeneration is confusing.

It is confusing for the first time. And worse the second. Because you have no idea where you went wrong with the first pair of sunglasses. We see it happens time and again in the letters from our readers.

Now, you can do better.
Take a few minutes to understand 6 simple rules derived from science.
Then select from our list of 46 sunglasses/glasses suitable for AMD.

So, here is the deal:

IF YOU do NOT know:
– how to read spectrograms & compare filters
– which light wavelengths to avoid
– whether you need special sunglasses for AMD
– what’s special about blue blocking sunglasses
– about the blue light filter test kit
– whether over-prescriptions can be an effective solution
– how to recognize and avoid dangerous blue reflective coatings
JUMP FIRST to Section 3 to learn about it.

OTHERWISE, continue with Section 1 -the 6 rules- and Section 2 to select among:
– 9 yellow,
– 11 amber/orange,
– 13 non-polarized (dark),
– 5 polarized (dark), and
– 8 prescription (Rx) lenses
suitable for macular degeneration glasses (sunglasses, fit-overs, clip-ons, flip-ups). Many come in a huge variety of frame designs.

NOTE: You worry about developing AMD but don’t have it. You may consider weaker blue light filters than those suggested below. Unless someone in your family (parents, siblings, grandparents) does have AMD.

Disclaimer 1. I am light sensitive and suffer from computer eye strain. Hence my interest in blue light filters. I am not a vision scientist nor a medical doctor. Moreover, I don’t have macular degeneration and AMD is not the primary focus of GLARminŸ.

Disclaimer 2: Research suggests blue light causes retinal cell death. Yet, there is no evidence that blocking blue light stops or slows down the progression of AMD.

Now: There is also no proof that it doesn’t.

Disclosure: GLARminŸ earns a small commission (at no cost to you) if you use the links labeled (commission link). Thanks for your support!


 

1. The rules for choosing AMD glasses

(In-depth explanations in Section 3).

Blue Light Protection (BLP) rules. To protect from damaging light glasses should have:

– BLP (400-460nm – high-risk range): High (~70% – 100%)
BLP (460-500nm – moderate-risk range): Moderate to high (~30% – 100%)
BlueInVisibleAMD ratio (important for darker glasses/sunglasses): Low (below ~15%)

The eyewear featured below complies with the Blue Light Protection rules.

Personal vision preference rules:

Color distortion (low distortion is incompatible with high BLP)
 VLT -Visible Light Transmission-/brightness (high VLT is incompatible with high BLP)
Polarization effectiveness (polarized sunglasses) – darker tints cut more glare

Are these rules bullet-proof?
No. It is impossible to guarantee success 100% until you try out any given eyewear. Our vision is too complex.

But:
– the rules increase the probability of getting it right
– if you decide wrong the first time, you have the basis to get it right next time
– also:

TIP 1: You may reduce your risk even more with our Tester kit: 8 blue filters.
TIP 2: Always check the return policy on your blue blockers before buying!

 

2. Glasses and sunglasses for AMD

The essential feature of glasses for macular degeneration is high BLP. Thus, below you’ll only find products with detailed spectral transmission profile. (Data source: vendors’ websites, unless otherwise stated).

Blue light protection estimate for the two risk intervals reads as:
BLP ~xx%, ~yy%

xx% is the blue blocking rate at 430nm; yy% at 480nm.

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BlueInVisibleAMD ratio formula is provided in section 3.

The order of filters below is from bright (high VLT) to dark (low VLT).

More eyewear features to consider
Glasses for AMD should:
– block 100% “ultraviolet” (UV) rays (light wavelengths below 400nm) – look for UV400 label
– protect your eyes from all directions (also from the sides, above and below) – frame design

Transitions could be OK for macular degeneration, particularly brown tinted. But, check the spectrogram, and know that they don’t protect from Sun’s blue light in a car (don’t darken).

CAUTION: Big names – Minimal blue light protection – too low??
Crizal Prevencia ♦ Smart Blue Filter ♦ DuraVision BlueProtect ♦ SeeCoat Blue Premium ♦ Blue Control ♦ BluTech ♦ iBlue Coat (spectrograms: last section here)

If you know of a product we should feature below, please let us know in the comments below or by sending a note!

 


 

Yellow lens eyewear for AMD

Moderate ­blue light protection ♦ Bright ♦ Low color distortion


Gunnars – AMBER lens glasses; VLT: 95% (source)

Gunnar prescription Rx glasses for macular degeneration spectral transmission

BLP ~70%, ~30% ♦ BlueInVisible ~11%
Bright ♦ Low color distortion
Buy: Gunnar Optiks and Amazon (commission link).


UVEX AMBER – Yellow lens glasses and over glasses; VLT 90%

UVEX amber glasses for AMD spectra

BLP ~82%, ~15% ♦  BlueInVisible ~10%
Bright ♦ Low color distortion
Available from UVEX store on Amazon (commission link)


NoIR 58 YELLOW lens glasses and over-glasses; VLT 88%:

NoIR 58 yellow glasses for AMD spectra

BLP ~95%, ~15% ♦ BlueInVisible ~7%
Bright ♦ Moderate color distortion.
Available at NoIR.


Cocoons – LEMON lens glasses and over-glasses; VLT 86%:

Cocoons glasses for AMD spectrograms LEMON

BLP ~100%, ~60% ♦ BlueInVisible ~3%
Bright ♦ Moderate-high color distortion
Available at Cocoons or on Amazon (commission link).


NoIR 465 YELLOW lens glasses and over glasses; VLT 81%:

NoIR 465 yellow glasses for AMD spectra

BLP ~93%, ~85% ♦ BlueInVisible ~3%
Bright ♦ Moderate-high color distortion
Available at NoIR.


Edge Yellow lens glasses; VLT 80%:

EDGE Yellow AMD glasses

BLP ~90%, ~50% ♦ BlueInVisible ~7%
Bright ♦ Low-moderate color distortion
Available from Edge Eyewear on Amazon (commission link).


NoIR 50 YELLOW lens glasses and over glasses; VLT 77%

NoIR 50 yellow glasses for AMD spectra

BLP ~100%, ~85% ♦ BlueInVisible ~1%
Bright ♦ Moderate-high color distortion.
Available at NoIR.


Reading Glasses ETC – Night Yellow lens glasses; VLT: 74%

Reading Glasses ETC Night Yellow glasses for amd spectra

BLP ~98%, ~65% ♦ BlueInVisible ~4%
Bright ♦ Moderate-high color distortion
Available at Reading Glasses ETC (commission link).


Reading Glasses ETC – Day Amber Melanin lens glasses. VLT 69%:

Reading Glasses ETC Day Amber glasses for amd spectra

BLP ~98%, ~65% ♦ BlueInVisible ~8%
Bright ♦ Moderate-high color distortion
Available at Reading Glasses ETC (commission link).

 


 

Amber/orange glasses

High BLP ♦ Moderately bright ♦ Greater color distortion


Reading Glasses ETC – Day Brown lens glasses. VLT 65%:

Reading Glasses ETC Day Brown glasses for amd spectra

BLP ~63%, ~65% ♦ BlueInVisible ~15%
Moderately-bright ♦ Moderate color distortion
Available at Reading Glasses ETC (commission link).


NoIR 68 ORANGE lens glasses and over-glasses. VLT 64%:

NoIR 68 orange glasses for AMD spectra

BLP ~90%, ~95% ♦ BlueInVisible ~4%
Moderately-bright ♦ High color distortion
Available at NoIR.


Reading Glasses ETC – Day Tan Melanin lens glasses. VLT 59%:

Reading Glasses ETC Day Tan Melanin glasses for amd spectra

BLP ~88%, ~ 80% ♦ BlueInVisible ~6%
Moderately-bright ♦ High color distortion
Available at Reading Glasses ETC (commission link).


Edge Amber lens glasses. VLT 57%:

EDGE AMBER AMD glasses

BLP ~80%, ~75% ♦ BlueInVisible ~10%
Moderately-bright ♦ Moderate-high color distortion
Available from Edge Eyewear on Amazon (commission link).


Reading Glasses ETC – Therapy Orange lens glasses. VLT 50%:

Reading Glasses ETC Therapy Orange glasses for amd spectra

BLP ~98%, ~97% ♦ BlueInVisible ~1%
Moderately-bright ♦ High color distortion
Available at Reading Glasses ETC (commission link).


Reading Glasses ETC – Sun Brown 40 lens glasses. VLT 49%:

Reading Glasses ETC Brown 40 sunglasses for amd spectra

BLP ~77%, ~82% ♦ BlueInVisible ~12%
Moderately-bright ♦ Moderate-high color distortion
Available at Reading Glasses ETC (commission link).


NoIR 60 ORANGE lens glasses and over glasses; VLT 45%:

NoIR 60 orange glasses for AMD spectra

BLP ~100%, ~100% ♦ BlueInVisible ~0%
Moderately-bright ♦ High color distortion
Available at NoIR.


LowBlueLights – ORANGE lens glasses and over glasses; VLT: 45% (guesstimate)

BLP ~100%, ~100% ♦ BlueInVisible ~0%
Moderately-bright ♦ High color distortion
Available at LowBlueLights.


UVEX SCT-ORANGE lens glasses; VLT 45%:

UVEX SCT-Orange glasses for macular degeneration spectra

BLP ~100%, ~100% ♦ BlueInVisible ~0%
Moderately-bright ♦ High color distortion
Available from UVEX store on Amazon (commission link).


NoIR 65 ORANGE lens glasses and over glasses; VLT 39%:

NoIR 65 orange sunglasses for AMD spectra

BLP ~100%, ~100% ♦ BlueInVisible ~0%
Moderate-low brightness ♦ High color distortion
Note: Interesting for migraineurs (filters blue and red light)
Available at NoIR.


Cocoons – ORANGE lens glasses and over-glasses; VLT 34%

Cocoons glasses for AMD spectra ORANGE

BLP ~100%, ~99% ♦ BlueInVisible ~0%
Moderate-low brightness ♦ High color distortion
Available at Cocoons or on Amazon (commission link).

 


 

Sunglasses for macular degeneration

High BLP ♦ Dark ♦ High color distortion ♦ Non-polarized


UVEX Infra-Dura Shade 2.0 green lens glasses. VLT 35%:

UVEX infra-dura shade 2.0 green sunglasses for AMD spectra

BLP ~98%, ~87% ♦ BlueInVisible ~4%
Moderate-low brightness ♦ Moderate-high color distortion
Note: beneficial to migraineurs (blocks blue and red light).
Available from UVEX store on Amazon (commission link).


Reading Glasses ETC – Sun Brown 60 lens sunglasses; VLT: 31%

Reading Glasses ETC Brown 60 sunlasses for amd spectra

BLP ~91%, ~94% ♦ BlueInVisible ~7%
Moderate-low brightness ♦ High color distortion
Available at Reading Glasses ETC.


NoIR 533 AMBER-ORANGE lens sunglasses and over-glasses. VLT 24%:

NoIR 533 amber-orange sunglasses for AMD spectra

BLP ~93%, ~96% ♦ BlueInVisible ~7%
Dark ♦ High color distortion
Available at NoIR.


NoIR 59 YELLOW lens sunglasses and over-glasses. VLT 22%:

NoIR 59 YELLOW sunglasses for AMD spectra

BLP ~100%, ~100% ♦ BlueInVisible ~0%
Dark ♦ High color distortion
Available at NoIR.


NoIR 40 ORANGE lens sunglasses and over-glasses. VLT 18%:

NoIR 40 orange sunglasses for AMD spectra

BLP ~100%, ~95% ♦ BlueInVisible ~2%
Dark ♦ High color distortion
Available at NoIR.


Cocoons – HAZELNUT lens sunglasses and over-glasses. VLT 18%:

Cocoons low vision sunglasses for AMD spectra HAZELNUT

BLP ~98%, ~94% ♦ BlueInVisible ~4%
Dark ♦ High color distortion
Available at Cocoons or on Amazon (commission link).


Cocoons – BOYSENBERRY lens sunglasses and over-glasses; VLT 15%:

Cocoons glasses for AMD spectra BOYSENBERRY

BLP ~90%, ~88% ♦ BlueInVisible ~12%
Dark ♦ Moderate color distortion
Available at Cocoons or on Amazon (commission link).


UVEX Espresso brown/amber lens sunglasses and over-glasses. VLT 15%:

UVEX espresso sunglasses for AMD spectra

BLP ~97%, ~92% ♦ BlueInVisible ~7%
Dark ♦ Moderate-high color distortion
Available from UVEX store on Amazon (commission link).


UVEX Espresso Gold Mirror brown lens sunglasses. VLT 15%:

UVEX espresso gold mirror sunglasses for AMD spectra

BLP ~90%, ~88% ♦ BlueInVisible ~18%
Dark ♦ Moderate-high color distortion
Available from UVEX store on Amazon (commission link).


UVEX Infra-Dura Shade 3.0 green lens sunglasses. VLT 14%:

UVEX infra-dura shade 3.0 green sunglasses for AMD spectra

BLP ~100%, ~95% ♦ BlueInVisible ~2%
Dark ♦ High color distortion
Note: beneficial to migraineurs – blocks blue and red light.
Available from UVEX store on Amazon (commission link).


NoIR 69 ORANGE lens sunglasses and over-glasses; VLT 13%

NoIR 69 orange sunglasses for AMD spectra

BLP ~100%, ~100% ♦ BlueInVisible ~0%
Dark ♦ High color distortion
Available at NoIR.


Edge IR3 Welding Green-tinted lens sunglasses. VLT 12%:

EDGE IR3 Welding green AMD glasses

BLP ~100%, ~100% ♦ BlueInVisible ~0%
Dark ♦ High color distortion
Note: beneficial to migraineurs – blocks blue and red light.
Available from Edge Eyewear on Amazon (commission link).


Edge Copper lens sunglasses. VLT 8%:

EDGE COPPER AMD sunglasses

BLP ~100%, ~98% ♦ BlueInVisible ~2%
Dark ♦ Moderate-high color distortion
Available from Edge Eyewear on Amazon (commission link).

 


 

Polarized sunglasses

High BLP ♦ Dark ♦ High color distortion


Polarizing efficiency may differ between lens tints and brands. Unfortunately, data is rarely available.

The guesstimates below are based on this table of tints and respective polarizing efficiencies.


Edge Yellow-Polarized lens sunglasses. VLT 36%:

EDGE Polarized Yellow AMD glasses

BLP ~90%, ~75% ♦ BlueInVisible ~10%
Moderate-low brightness ♦ Moderate color distortion ♦ Moderate polarizing efficiency
Available from Edge Eyewear on Amazon (commission link).


Cocoons POLARIZED YELLOW lens glasses/sunglasses. VLT 27%:

Cocoons POLARIZED sunglasses for AMD spectra YELLOW

BLP ~100%, ~95% ♦ BlueInVisible ~1%
Dark ♦ High color distortion ♦ High polarizing efficiency
Available at Cocoons.


Cocoons POLARIZED COPPER lens sunglasses. VLT 21%:

Cocoons POLARIZED sunglasses for AMD spectra COPPER

BLP ~87%, ~86% ♦ BlueInVisible ~17%
Dark ♦ Moderate color distortion ♦ High polarizing efficiency
Available at Cocoons.


Cocoons POLARIZED AMBER lens sunglasses; VLT 14%.

Cocoons POLARIZED sunglasses for AMD spectra AMBER

BLP ~93%, ~94% ♦ BlueInVisible ~13%
Dark ♦ High color distortion ♦ High polarizing efficiency
Available at Cocoons.


Edge Copper-Polarized lens sunglasses. VLT 8%:

EDGE Polarized COPPER AMD glasses

BLP ~97%, ~95% ♦ BlueInVisible ~12%
Dark ♦ Moderate-high color distortion ♦ High polarizing efficiency
Available from Edge Eyewear on Amazon (commission link).

 


 

Prescription (Rx) glasses

 


Unfortunately, there are only two vendors offering prescription blue blockers suitable for AMD.

But, here is the kicker,
Reading Glasses ETC is all about customization and personalized customer service!
And, they offer seven lens tints reasonable for protection against AMD!
First, you choose a frame (over 1,000 available). Then a lens option:
– reader lens powers (Zero to +4.00 in either eye) without a prescription, or
– single vision prescription lenses (Zero to -8.00 or +6.00; up to a -4.00 cylinder).

The lenses below range from light to dark.

 

Gunnars – AMBER lens prescription glasses (Rx range: -6 to +5). VLT: 95% (source: fluxometer):

Gunnar prescription Rx glasses for macular degeneration spectral transmission

BLP ~70%, ~30% ♦ BlueInVisible ~11%
Bright ♦ Low color distortion
Availabile on: Gunnar Optiks and Amazon (commission link).


Reading Glasses ETC – Night Yellow lens Rx glasses (Rx range: -8.00 to +6.00; up to a -4.00 cylinder). VLT: 74%:

Reading Glasses ETC Night Yellow glasses for amd spectra

BLP ~98%, ~65% ♦ BlueInVisible ~4%
Bright ♦ Moderate-high color distortion
Available at Reading Glasses ETC.


Reading Glasses ETC – Day Amber Melanin lens prescription glasses (Rx range: -8.00 to +6.00; up to a -4.00 cylinder). VLT 69%:

Reading Glasses ETC Day Amber glasses for amd spectra

BLP ~98%, ~65% ♦ BlueInVisible ~8%
Bright ♦ Moderate-high color distortion
Available at Reading Glasses ETC.


Reading Glasses ETC – Day Tan Melanin lens glasses (Rx range: -8.00 to +6.00; up to a -4.00 cylinder). VLT 59%:

Reading Glasses ETC Day Tan Melanin glasses for amd spectra

BLP ~88%, ~ 80% ♦ BlueInVisible ~6%
Moderately-bright ♦ High color distortion
Available at Reading Glasses ETC.


Reading Glasses ETC – Therapy Orange lens prescription glasses (Rx range: -8.00 to +6.00; up to a -4.00 cylinder). VLT 50%:

Reading Glasses ETC Therapy Orange glasses for amd spectra

BLP ~98%, ~97% ♦ BlueInVisible ~1%
Moderately-bright ♦ High color distortion
Available at Reading Glasses ETC.


Reading Glasses ETC – Day Brown lens glasses (Rx range: -8.00 to +6.00; up to a -4.00 cylinder). VLT 65%:

Reading Glasses ETC Day Brown glasses for amd spectra

BLP ~63%, ~65% ♦ BlueInVisible ~15%
Moderately-bright ♦ Moderate color distortion
Available at Reading Glasses ETC.


Reading Glasses ETC – Sun Brown 40 lens glasses (Rx range: -8.00 to +6.00; up to a -4.00 cylinder). VLT 49%:

Reading Glasses ETC Brown 40 sunglasses for amd spectra

Pros: Moderate-high BLP (460-500nm). Low color distortion. Moderate-high light loss.
Compromise: Moderate BLP (400-460nm).
Available at Reading Glasses ETC.


Reading Glasses ETC – Sun Brown 60 lens sunglasses (Rx range: -8.00 to +6.00; up to a -4.00 cylinder). VLT: 31%

Reading Glasses ETC Brown 60 sunlasses for amd spectra

BLP ~91%, ~94% ♦ BlueInVisible ~7%
Moderate-low brightness ♦ High color distortion
Available at Reading Glasses ETC.


 

3. What you should know to choose your AMD glasses

The questions came from our readers. The explanations pretend to be simple and brief. Yet with the necessary detail.

This stuff is not difficult. But it may overwhelm at first glance.

Related articles:
Macular degeneration glasses & blue blocking products guide
Over-glasses vs. special glasses for macular degeneration
What is the best blue light filter for macular degeneration glasses

 

Must I wear sunglasses for macular degeneration?

Question 1:
I was diagnosed with early-stage AMD. I wear prescription glasses. I don’t have problems with brightness and glare in sunlight (never wear sunglasses). Do I need to get special sunglasses for macular degeneration?

Answer 1: For AMD you need glasses that block blue light. You sound like you’ll be more comfortable with brighter glasses. Others might prefer darker sunglasses. But, either way, blue blockers!

It is important to distinguish between:
– eyewear properties imposed by AMD and
– personal vision needs/preferences.

You feel comfortable in bright sunlight. What’s more, you may need lots of brightness to see well. Others find brightness disturbing, straining. This is an example of a personal preference/need.

Our personal vision preference rules consider:
– the brightness of a filter
– color distortion
– polarization effectiveness

NOTE: You may have other personal preferences you should consider!?

 

Which light wavelengths cause AMD

According to research, blue light (~400-500nm) causes AMD more than the rest of visible light.

macular degeneration glasses - action spectrum - retinal cell death

The above evidence suggests 2 intervals of increased retinal cell death:
High-risk interval (~400-460nm)
Moderate risk interval (~460-500nm)

Many vendors downplay the importance of blue light protection in the moderate risk interval, however…

 

The Sun is more intense above 460nm:

blue filter - spectral power distribution Sunny

(source) which suggests protection against AMD also in moderate-risk range (~460-500nm).

(Help reading spectrograms).

 

More evidence for blocking blue light up to 500nm: Macular pigment
Macular pigment is our eyes’ natural protective mechanism against blue light.

It’s spectral transmission (source):

macular pigment spectra as basis for AMD glasses

shows it should block a high proportion of blue light. Up to 500nm!

Coincidence? … Or evolutionary adaptation!?

Bottom line:
Eyewear for AMD should block blue light:
– a lot/completely in the high-risk range
– somewhat in the moderate risk range.

NOTE: Scientists suggest a deficiency in AMD sufferers’ macular pigment. They recommend adequate dietary supplementation.

 

Different types of blue-blocking eyewear for AMD

Question 2:
I have been diagnosed with early onset macular degeneration. My eye specialist recommended blue-block sunglasses to slow down progression. I ordered several pairs from BluBlocker but am frustrated with the color change I see. Also, they tend to diminish the brightness of traffic lights, which I find dangerous. Can you recommend sunglasses that block the most blue light but with the most true color? Or, can I use non-prescription clear blue block glasses with polarized clip-on’s?

Answer 2:
Your question brings up several issues to address:
– driving with blue blockers
– BluBlockers
– color distortion
– blue blocking glasses, sunglasses and brightness
– combining glasses with over-glasses (clip-ons, flip-ups, or fit-overs)
– polarized sunglasses

So, let’s go!

 

No driving with blue blockers

Due to color distortion, stronger blue blockers are discouraged/illegal for driving.

 

BluBlocker® sunglasses

It is not clear if BluBlockers are a good choice for AMD.

BluBlockers may indeed block a lot of blue light. One proof is your frustration with the color change.

But,
their transmission disclosure amounts to: “lenses block (…) 100% of the blue light“. (We asked for more detail, but received no reply).

CAUTION: vendors may use
– very different interpretations of blue light range (dangerous wavelengths) or
– manipulative wordings (for example, blocks blue light up to 100%)
which can result in impressive yet deceiving blue blocking claims (more here)

So, based on BluBlockers’ statement we cannot recommend their sunglasses for AMD. The same holds for many other brands without spectrograms.

Again, if you sell or know of glasses with full spectral transmission disclosure, do let us know.

 

Blue blockers DO change/distort colors

… unless they hardly block any blue light.

Think for a second:
If you can see blue through a lens, then blue is not blocked! … not by much, anyhow.

Stronger blue light filters make blue appear darker. 100% blue blocker turns blue to black.

Many other colors also get distorted. For example:
– weak blue blockers change white to off-white
– a bit stronger to yellowish,
– then more pronounced yellow,
– yet stronger to amber,
– and, finally, the strongest filters to orange.

Bottom line:
The more blue light you want to block, the more color distortion you have to live with.

QUIZ: “Clear blue blockers make white paper appear off-white. They filter:
a) A lot of blue light
b) Hardly any
c) Half                                              (ANSWER: b)

 

Brightness

For starters, clear lenses absorb about 10% of brightness.

Blue light amounts to a quarter (~25%) of all visible sunlight. Block that and lose even more brightness.

Bottom line,
the brightest of lenses blocking 100% of blue light up to 500nm reduce brightness by about half (~50% VLT).

Now,
don’t let that number discourage you if you need lots of brightness. The sensation of brightness with yellow/orange eyewear is surprising :).

And don’t feel sorry about cutting blue light because it only disturbs central vision.

You may be wondering:
How are VLT, lens color, and spectral transmissions related?

Here’s a taste of how (source):

best sunglasses for macular degeneration spectrograms yellow amber orange tintbest sunglasses for macular degeneration spectrograms brown tints

Key takeaways:
– both glasses (top row) and sunglasses (bottom) can block a lot of blue light (~400-500nm)
– but, sunglasses block more light above 500nm (lower transmission curve)
– don’t judge blue blocking effectiveness by the lens color alone, except very roughly

TIP: Don’t buy eyewear without seeing it’s spectral transmission data.

 

Lens brightness and pupil constriction
Why glasses might be better for AMD than sunglasses

If you filter 100% of blue light, you get none into your eyes. With glasses or sunglasses.

So, it is a simple decision:
– if you like/need brightness – get glasses
– if not – sunglasses.

But here’s the kicker:
You want to see some blue light through your blue blockers, and … it’s a mess.

Let’s see the simplest example.
Which is better orange or dark gray glasses:

best sunglasses for amd comparing Oakley gray and NoIR Orange spectrograms

They block roughly the same proportion of blue light: ~10%.

But, the orange glasses are about 6 times brighter (compare VLTs)!

Now, more brightness constricts the pupil. So, the pupil is smaller with the brighter (orange) glasses. And less blue light reaches the retina.

Bottom line:
Lighter glasses are better than dark sunglasses when blue blocking effectiveness is similar*.

*I am not aware of any research on this topic. Confirmed only by my experimentation with blue blockers. But for visual comfort, not AMD.

The example above is simple because blue blocking rates are the same. Also, the discrepancy in VLT is large.

For more complex scenarios we’ve invented the third Blue Light Protection measure:

 

BlueInVisibleAMD ratio

The BlueInVisible ratio tells you how much blue light is within all visible light.

BlueInVisible of unfiltered sunlight is ~26%.

Sunglasses for macular degeneration should lower that number. At 0% you are the safest.

TIP: We don’t recommend BlueInVisible above ~15% for AMD.

Here’s the formula:
BlueInVisibleAMD gives more importance to filter transmission in the high-risk (Th) range. It weighs 3-times more than transmission in the moderate-risk (Tm) range. Th and Tm are approximations: transmission at ranges’ midpoints (430nm and 480nm).

BlueInVisibleAMD = 0.26 * (0.75 * Th + 0.25 * Tm) / VLT

0.26 is the proportion of blue light in total visible sunlight. Unfiltered. Calculation: (500-400)nm / (780-400)nm = 0.26. It assumes constant spectral power distribution of sunlight throughout the visible light range. Simple and close enough.

Examples:
– 100% blue light blocked: BlueInVisible = 0%
– Orange glasses above: BlueInVisible = ~4%
– Dark gray Oakleys above: BlueInVisible = ~26%

 

Use of over-glasses

Over-glasses are fine (as always there are some advantages and disadvantages).

They are the only option for people who need special prescription glasses.

How to estimate combined transmission:
T (combination) = T(glasses) * T(over-glasses)
Valid for the same wavelength.

For example:
Over-glasses have 10% transmission (at 460nm) and glasses 80%.
Combined transmission at 460nm is 8% (0.1*0.8=0.08).

To estimate VLT, multiply the two VLTs.

 

Polarized sunglasses

Polarized lenses on your blue blocking glasses or sunglasses is a good idea.

In addition to blue light, they also block out polarized glare from surfaces such as roads, water, snow, cars, etc…

Unfortunately, polarized sunglasses present two limitations:
– dark only (36% VLT are the brightest we’ve found)
– none block 100% of blue light (100% blue blocked up to 470nm appears the best option)

TIP: Brighter polarized lenses might be available at your local optician
TIP: Polarized 100% blue blockers = polarized sunglasses + orange over-glasses

 

Brands and their transmission profiles

Question 3:
[From a reader who’d just be diagnosed with early AMD]. I contacted Cocoons. They said their amber sunglasses block up to 420nm and yellow up to 460nm. Now, I have light sensitivity due to cataracts. So, they advised me to get the amber lenses. Do you recommend a brand of sunglasses that block closer to 500nm? Also, Maui Jim sunglasses are coated on both sides of the lens. Cocoons sunglasses are coated only on one side for absorption and anti-glare. Your thoughts on this?

Answer 3: Again, several issues to consider:
– the optimal filter for AMD and cataracts. (Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about cataracts to make recommendations).
– coatings
– Maui Jim sunglasses
– Comparing lenses (Cocoons yellow vs amber lens)
– reasonable brands for low vision eyewear for AMD (see section 2 above for more options)
– testing blue blocking glasses for AMD

Here we go:

 

Lens coatings

There are different types of coatings. Only blue reflective coatings may be dangerous.

It is when they reflect blue light back into your eye. Even that only happens when the Sun (or another light source) is to the side and behind you.

See section 3 in this guide to learn:
– how to identify such lenses, and
– how to avoid the dangerous circumstances in case you already own such glasses
(includes a very instructive video).

Neither Cocoon nor Maui Jim seem to use such blue reflective coating.

 

Maui Jim® sunglasses

Maui Jim doesn’t disclose spectral transmission profiles of their sunglasses. So, we cannot recommend it for macular degeneration.

We’ve found this spectrogram on a third-party site. It is for Maui Jim Natural Grey lenses. Now, these are not blue blockers.

Here is what Maui Jim website says:
patented PolarizedPlus2® lens technology reduces HEV* without removing the beautiful visible blues colors from the world around you

Which means:
Maui Jim lenses don’t block a lot of blue light. Or better, they have a high BlueInVisible ratio.

* HEV (High Energy Visible light) – fancy for blue light.

 

How to compare filters: Cocoons’ amber vs. yellow lens

Open Cocoons’ polarized amber and polarized yellow lens spectrograms. Or find the spectral graphs with all other info above in Section 2: Polarized Sunglasses.

They both filter a lot of blue light.

But, the yellow lens has:
– much higher VLT (27% vs. 14% of the amber lens)
– lower BlueInVisible ratio (1% vs 13%).

So, the yellow lens might be more appropriate for macular degeneration.

But, again, it is impossible to know what will work best for you without trying. Particularly when you have to consider other needs/conditions (such as your cataract)

Now,
if you want to be sure, here is what you should do:

 

Testing of blue blockers

Your vision requirements are unique. Only you can discover the filter that will work for you. And, you can only find out by trying.

If you prefer lighter blue blockers it is simple: use our Tester kit.

Blue-blocking sunglasses
To test darker glasses you may also use the Tester kit. But, as fit-overs with a pair of gray sunglasses.

When you find your favorite combo get over-glasses like your favorite Tester Filter.

If you only want to wear sunglasses it’s a bit trickier. You need to figure out the combined transmission curves:
– Use the lowest of the two transmissions* at each wavelength
– For greater accuracy, use the formula suggested above, section Use of Over-glasses

*If you don’t have spectral transmission for your grey sunglasses. Assume flat line (from 400-780nm) at:
– 10% transmission (very dark sunglasses)
– 20% (dark)
– 40% (lighter sunglasses)

TIP: If you get stuck at this point, write to us or comment below. We’ll help.
(If I many of you do, I’ll prepare a separate article to explain it).

 

Back to you

Congratulations! In a few minutes, you saved several weeks of trouble with finding good glasses for AMD.

Let us know in the comments if this article helped you decide. Which glasses for macular degeneration are you going to get?

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