Did you know your eyes – your literal eye balls, not just the skin around them – can get sunburned? Well, they can – kind of. To help protect your eyes from the sun, the Food & Drug Administration just cleared contact lenses that act like sunglasses.
Aside from the intense sun exposure that can cause eye sunburns (also known as photokeratitis), even the occasional failure to remember your sunglasses on a bright day can cause problems for your eyes, Jessica Lee, a board-certified ophthalmologist, and assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, tells Allure. “Too much exposure to UV light chronically can increase the risk of developing eye diseases such as cataracts, eye cancers, and growths on the skin of the eye,” she says. So yeah, keeping your eyes protected from harmful UV rays is just as important as religiously keeping up with your sun cream routine.
To that end, researchers have developed light-adaptive contact lenses, which darken when exposed to bright light – just like glasses with Transitions lenses. The Acuvue Oasys Contact Lenses with Transitions Light Intelligent Technology, which were officially FDA-cleared this week after a clinical study of 24 patients, are the first of their kind.
Here’s how they work: As your light environments change throughout the day, the contacts react to keep the light entering your eyes continually balanced – inside, they’re clear just like any normal contact lenses, but walk outside into the sun and they’ll darken as if you were wearing sunglasses. The key is a photochromatic technology, which helps filter the amount of visible light that reaches the eye. They also help filter out the blue light emitted from your screens, according to a statement from Johnson & Johnson, Acuvue’s parent company.