A new study presented to the 2012 British Contact Lens Association Clinical Conference suggests that something as simple as wearing UV blocking contact lenses might be enough to prevent age-related macular degeneration, the major cause of loss of vision in people aged over 55.

Double Blind Study Proves Value of UV Lenses

Forty men, who were showing no symptoms of presbyopia, took part in this study. Twenty of whom were given UV blocking contact lenses, whilst the other twenty were given contact lenses with only minimal UV blocking properties.

During the study researchers made a careful study of each participant’s ocular health, including, crucially, the density of their macular pigment levels. Existing research shows that a high level of macular pigment can protect against age-related macular degeneration.

After five years, the results showed that macular pigment density levels were much higher across all the subjects who had worn the UV blocking lenses compared to those who had worn the lenses with only minimal UV blocking capability.

But Further Study is needed

Although these results are impressive, they are not statistically significant and much larger studies will need to be carried out.

Researchers have speculated that chronic UV light exposure may contribute to ageing processes in the eye. “This preliminary data suggests that wearing UV-blocking contact lenses could play a contributory role in maintaining the eye’s macular pigment density which, in turn, may play a role in helping to delay the development of macular degeneration. Additional clinical studies are needed to further evaluate the effects seen in this preliminary research,”says study lead-author Professor James Wolffsohn, Deputy Executive Dean for Life and Health Sciences at Aston University in Birmingham.

And Don’t Throw Away Your Sunglasses!

UV-absorbing contact lenses are not substitutes for protective UV-absorbing eyewear such as UV-absorbing goggles or sunglasses because they do not completely cover the eye and surrounding area. “Eye care professionals need to continually reinforce the importance of wearing UV-blocking contact lenses in conjunction with high-quality UV blocking sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat for maximum protection,” says Professor Wolffsohn.