Editorial by Dr. Allen Zuck, Low Vision Optometrist at CABVI
The COVID era of today is affecting many of our activities. Whether we spend more time outdoors, or at a computer screen, eye fatigue and glare impact performance. Think of outfielder Brett Gardner of the New York Yankees, shielding his eyes to field a high-fly ball late in the afternoon.
Glare is defined as an unpleasantly bright or strong light (Cambridge English Dictionary). It can be direct light such as the sun, a bright lamp, or VDT brightness. It can be indirect- reflections off surfaces, surrounding a darker object of regard, or through a window. It is a major source of eyestrain when the exposure is for a prolonged period of time.
In the computer age, we need to find ways to minimize and control eyestrain. Our children are spending more time in front of screens and we are working from home more. There are many ways to improve the visual environment there. In our homes, we have many ways to control lighting – dimmers, shades, screen adjustments, desk lamps, tinted lenses, and visual breaks.
Sports arenas present another area of concern for sources of glare. Few athletes are as susceptible to these effects as the hockey player who is blind or visually impaired. The combination of ice glare, and the heightened sensitivity induced by many causes of visual impairment, present unique opportunities to provide insight.
Lighting experts, such as the Illumination Engineering Society (IES), suggest updating arena lighting to LEDs to significantly reduce glare compared to older HIDs, which have “hot spots” in the center of the fixture. LED lights eliminate hot spots and offer more efficiency, directionality, and life span.
For individual players, the use of polarized lenses, even non-prescription lenses, can reduce glare off the ice, the glass, or reflective surfaces. If there are high windows, a daytime game might cause some glare overhead in the winter from southern exposed sides. Attachable visors could help, if not interfering with play.
The use of NOIR tinted wrap around glasses that hug the head and fit under helmets, tinted specifically to the player’s visual condition, are often very helpful to reduce glare-induced eyestrain. Colors range from yellow, amber, orange, red, gray, vermillion, plum, blue, and green. The company provides initial guidance for color selection, but the degree of tint can be individualized. Consider polarized lenses as a non-tinted, non-prescription tool for glare control. Anti-reflective coatings are available as well.
If you have questions or concerns, call CABVI at (877) 719-9996.
Dr. Allen Zuck is a NYS certified Low Vision Rehabilitation optometrist since 1984. He has cared for consumers of all age groups and visual impairments through CABVI’s Low Vision Center. He is a graduate of SUNY College of Optometry, and lives in New Hartford N.Y. with his wife Patricia. He enjoys Curling at the Utica area’s wonderful club.
Published October 2020