Just before you dash out the door, you reach into your drawer of sunglasses and grab a pair. Great job! At least you’re onto positive, proactive and protective behavior. But, do you really know anything about the lenses in that pair of eyewear? And why good lenses matter for long term UV eye protection and eye health? We’re all about protection at Coolibar, and eye protection is no different. Like skin, eyes can sunburn and sustain damage, eye cancers and more. In fact, eyelid skin is extremely thin and susceptible to melanomas, so protecting your eyes is as essential as protecting your faces, necks, arms and legs. And did you know that lens effectiveness can diminish in time? A study was released that proved, like food in our refrigerator or medications, the protective ability of some sunglass lenses can degrade in time and negatively impact eye protection.
UV rays, those wavelengths invisible to the eye are the most dangerous part of sunlight. They can cause cataracts, eyelid cancers, and other skin cancers and are believed to play a part in macular degeneration, a major cause of vision loss for people over age 60. In addition, UV rays can prematurely wrinkle and age the skin around the eyes. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends shade, diligent sunscreen application, sun protective clothing, and wide-brimmed hats. They also don’t want you to forget about the shades too. That said, we know sunglasses are super high tech and can be confusing; it almost requires an engineering degree to sort them out. With different colors, materials and different coatings, where do you start?
We can help. Our premium eyewear selection has been made for maximum UV protection. Blocking 100% of UV rays, offering perks like polarized lenses to kill glare and reduce eyestrain or bifocal lenses for reading outdoors. No matter your need or activity level, we have the perfect pair for you. While some sunglasses have coatings that wear away that UV ray protection quickly, we’ve handpicked our selection here at Coolibar so you can remain safe in the sun. Each of our sunglasses has high-quality lenses and come in a variety of lens materials. Here is a quick guide to different lens materials and colors to simplify the decision-making process.
An optical quality glass is made from exceptionally pure sand that is free from metals and other foreign matter. It is highly regarded for its optical quality and scratch resistance. To create glass lenses, the raw sand mixture is heated to high temperatures until it forms into molten glass. The molten glass is then dropped into molds and pressed into blanks which are then ground & polished into lenses.
Polycarbonate is thermoplastic and highly regarded for its light weight and unrivaled impact resistance. The polycarbonate material is heated to high temperatures and then injection molded to form optical quality lenses.
Many sunglass companies create their own materials for their lens and the information about the materials used in their lenses are readily available and should be included in the product description that goes along with the item. Keep in mind that since companies are creating their own lens materials it could mean that a fancy name doesn’t mean a quality lens. Check into reviews from people who’ve tried the lenses before and check on the company to see the details about the lenses.
Glare, also known as polarized light, occurs when light rays reflect off planar surfaces like water, roads, or ice. Glare inhibits vision because the intense reflected light washes out the image the eye is trying to focus on, resulting in a blinding effect and/or reduced color saturation. In environments where polarized light is prevalent, a polarized sunglass will greatly reduce the blinding effects of glare and enhance colors.
Polarized sunglasses contain a special filter inside the lenses that block horizontal light waves (glare) while allowing vertical light waves (good light) through so you see objects more clearly and colors more vibrantly on bright days. A polarized filter works very similarly to Venetian blinds (pictured above) in that you can see out but a lot of the light is blocked from coming in.
Photochromic lenses automatically adjust the tint and light transmission in response to changing light conditions. The benefit is you can wear one pair of sunglasses with lenses that aren’t too dark when the sun pulls a disappearing act, or too light when it knifes through clouds.
Photochromic lenses are activated (they change color) when the lenses are exposed to ultraviolet radiation. Once the lens is removed from direct exposure to ultraviolet radiation, the lenses deactivate by going back to their original tint.
While great for sports applications, photochromic lenses are not ideal for driving conditions because most automobiles have UV filters in the windshield that prevent the lenses from activating.
Hydrophobic, Oleophobic & Hydroleophic lens treatments
Hydrophobic lens treatments prevent moisture buildup so rain and perspiration won’t leave streaks and sheens that can compromise your vision. Water droplets just ball up and bead off the surface.
Oleophobic lens treatments repel oils which make it easier to keep lenses clean. Skin oils, fingerprints, and lotions are more easily wiped away without leaving a residue so you won’t get that blurring film common to ordinary lenses.
Hydroleophobic lens treatments take the best of both worlds from Hydrophobic and Oleophobic and combine them into one special lens treatment!
Anti-reflective (A/R) treatment
Anti-reflective or AR treatments are applied to the backside of some lenses to reduce an irritating ‘ghosting’ effect that can occur due to light reflecting off the inner area of the eye. A/R treatments are commonly found on polarized lenses because they further reduce the effects of glare and the treatment generally makes the lens 2% darker. The treatment can be identified as a bluish tint located on the inside of the lens.
Superheated metal oxides are applied to the surface of some lenses to reflect light, which further reduces the effects of glare. These mirrored treatments are also used to tune the light transmission of lenses for specific sport applications or environments as well as for aesthetics. We love the style that some of these treatments give the lenses.
Brown lenses create greater color contrast, providing better visibility on solid-color surfaces such as ski slopes by highlighting the peaks and valleys, while yellow lenses are good for both contrast and depth perception, making it a good choice for golfers and for bicyclists who need to be wary of debris on the road. Grey lenses offer the truest color correctness.
Lens tints are used to help you enjoy whatever you want to do or activity you want to pursue. Although, all lens tints are great some are better for certain activities like being around open water or for golfing. It is a personal choice what lens tint you prefer but this information may sway you in the direction that would be best for you.
- Good for open water, beach and tennis
- Reduces glare from harsh sun and white light
- Natural color contrast, soothing
- All purpose neutral lens color for everyday
- All purpose neutral lens color for everyday
- Reduces glare and eye strain in bright light
- Colors appear more natural
- Green tint during WWII helped pilots perceive correct colors
- Good for outdoor sports, running, cycling, golf, on the water
- Blocks light with minimal color distortion
- Protects against glare
- All purpose, good choice for daily wear and driving
- Great for tennis, golf, skiing, sports, fishing, shallow underwater
- Filters out blue light on overcast days
- Improves contrast and depth perception
- Everyday activities
Brown (Bronze or Gold)
- Great for tennis, golf or skiing, any activity
- Filters out blue light on overcast days
- Improves depth perception/distance
- All purpose, universally appealing to the eye
- Best for snow sports, hunting, and indoor ball sports
- Allows maximum light in hazy, foggy, low light
- Objects appear sharper indoors and outdoors
- Good for sunrise, sunset, even night driving
- Good for a variety of sports
- Enhances depth perception
- Soothing to the eye
- Enhances colors in low to medium light
Our current selection of sunglasses includes the brands below. Each hand chosen by our sun protection experts:
KAENON: Kaenon (pronounced: KAY-nun) emerged in 2001 from an intense passion and a clear desire to never compromise. Kaenon was founded by two brothers who were unsatisfied with the sunglasses available on the market. Determined to create something better, they developed the proprietary polarized SR-91® lens — the world’s first non-compromising polarized lens. Wrapped in unique, California-designed frame styles built for comfort and performance, along with distinct colorways and hand-painted treatments unique to Italian craftsmen, Kaenon sunglasses became more than a reality, they raised the standard in performance eyewear.
SMITH: Originating from Sun Valley, Idaho, Smith was founded in 1965 with the invention of the first snow goggle featuring a sealed thermal lens and breathable vent foam. With 50 years of innovation and design experience, Smith is widely known today as an industry leader that pioneers advanced eyewear and helmets that incorporate dynamic technologies, optimized performance and clean styling to fuel fun beyond walls.
SERENGETI: World-renowned for their unbeatable combination of style and performance, Serengeti doesn’t cut corners when designing their sunglasses. Serengeti Sunglasses incorporate unique innovations as well as features that other eyewear manufacturer regard as special add-ons, creating eyewear that is simply among the very best in the world. Serengeti will not only protect your eyes from harsh UV rays, but also improve your ability to see, so you’ll be able to better perform no matter what you’re doing – whether in sporting events, driving your car, or sailing a boat.
COSTA: As the leading manufacturer of the world’s clearest polarized performance sunglasses, Costa offers superior lens technology, unparalleled fit and durability, and a lifetime warranty against manufacturer’s defects on all of its products. Still handcrafted today in Florida, Costa creates what has been referred to as the highest quality, best performing sunglasses on the planet for outdoor enthusiasts.
EYEBOBS: eyebobs bifocal sunreaders are the perfect solution for those of you who refuse to be the one at the beach wearing sunglasses over your readers. With the built in bifocal reading lens, you can look down to read and look up to see in the distance. If you are new to bifocals, take time to get used to them and begin by using them for sitting and reading only. As you get used to them, you may be able to walk, talk, and juggle while wearing sunreaders.