Get Outside! Put the phone down, turn off the computer, and get outside. What do enjoying the colorful leaves of autumn, hiking a trail, sinking a long putt, casting to a trophy fish, or skiing down the mountains have in common?
They are all enhanced with clear, glare-free vision. Sports eyewear has come a long way in recent years and has reached a level of specialization found in many outdoor recreation pursuits. Nowadays you can find sports sunglasses designed for all types of activities like fishing, golf, hiking, and snow and water sports. Lens colors, surface treatments, polarization, and light adjusting qualities can be tailored for your favorite past-times. You no longer have to deal with boring old eyeglasses!
Oftentimes, sports enthusiasts are excited about the latest and greatest gear, but many overlook one of the most important factors in optimizing their performance – their vision.
Light Management for Improved Performance
Vision is a person’s ability to process light into comprehensible images. All visible light, including sunlight, is made of electromagnetic rays. These rays have different colors, determined by their wavelength. These colors cover a spectrum, from cool to warm, and include violet, blue, green, yellow, orange and red. When combined, these wavelengths produce white light.
When certain wavelengths are selectively blocked out, the human eye perceives this as a reduction in glare and an enhancement of contrast sensitivity. Tinted sunglasses serve to block out distracting and harmful wavelengths, enhancing the speed, accuracy, clarity and comfort of vision for the person in question. Such enhancements frequently translate directly to an improved performance on the field over competitors.
This “extra edge” granted by strong vision can manifest in sports in a wide variety of ways, from seeing contrasts on the greens in golf, to allowing you to better see the rotation of the ball in baseball, tennis and softball, to helping a mountain biker see a clearer safe path ahead.
How to Choose a Tint
Generally, the tint you choose is simply a matter of personal preference. Certain tints do tend to offer specific benefits for specific tasks and environments.
If maintaining color accuracy is important, a neutral gray tint is recommended. That said, for most athletes, the most important feature from a pair of sunglasses is contrast enhancement. Whether enabling viewing a ball against a sky, seeing a fish under water, or navigating the safe path down a ski slope, a tint that enhances contrast will most likely serve you well. Consider a brown or copper-colored tint. For low-light and overcast conditions, a yellow, amber, orange or red tint are also good choices.
If you’re a sports person, you probably spend more time than most in the sun. It’s important to have 100 percent UV protection. Overexposure to UV rays over a lifetime has been linked to the development of cataracts.
UV protection is determined by the lens and any additive coatings. It’s important to note that color or darkness does not impact UV protection, allowing you great freedom to choose and customize tint to personal preference while still providing maximum protection.
A great choice for material for your lenses is polycarbonate lenses. Lightweight and shatter-resistant, polycarbonate lenses provide 100 percent blockage of UV rays without needing any extra coatings or additives.
It’s also a good idea to wear sunglasses that provide protection from high energy visible radiation, or HEV radiation. This radiation, often called “blue light,” may contribute to macular degeneration and other eye conditions.
Consult your eye doctor for the best and most personalized recommendation for the sports sunglasses that block both 100 percent UV rays and HEV light.
Other Lens Features
While tints will provide you with a marked degree of improvement and enhancement in your sports vision, there are also other features you can add to your sunglasses. Polychromic lenses lighten and darken automatically based on exposure to UV rays, making them a strong choice to enhance your prescription glasses while also optimizing the amount of light entering your eyes for sharper vision.
Polarized sunglasses contain a special filter that blocks light reflected from horizontal surfaces. This light creates much of what we perceive as glare or hot spots. Polarized lenses are especially useful in snow, sand, water, and concrete environments.
An anti-reflective coating on the back side of the lens could help eliminate glare when the sun is behind you. You can also choose a wraparound style of sunglasses to further reduce this type of glare.
To Prescription, or Not to Prescription
We offer both prescription and non-prescription sports glasses. You will need an eye examination if you would like prescription lenses. You’ll find style and versatility in our line of Rudy Project ™ sports sunglasses that come with interchangeable lenses designed for different lighting conditions. Maui Jim ™ offers the best quality in polarized lenses for water sports and glare conditions. Both are available in prescription sport sunglass lenses.