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What should I look for in a sunglass lens?

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, features, and tints to simplify the decision-making process.

Lens Materials

Years ago, glass was the only option available for lenses, but today a wide range of lens materials are available to match all lifestyles.

Glass
Highly regarded for its optical quality and scratch resistance, an optical quality glass is made from exceptionally pure sand.

Polycarbonate
For everyday wear and activities, polycarbonate, a thermoplastic, offers a lightweight feel and is unrivaled for impact resistance.

Other Materials
Many sunglass brands create their own lens materials, generally found in their product descriptions. Bearn in mind a fancy name for a new material doesn’t necessarily equate to a quality lens. Look at customer reviews for good information on how the lens performs.

Lens Features

When it comes to lenses, there are dozens of features help a lens perform better in specific light and weather conditions. Here are a few of the more prevalent options.

Polarized lenses
There’s a special filter inside a polarized lens that blocks horizontal light waves, in human speak, that means glare, while, at the same time allowing vertical light waves (good light) to pass through. That means, polarized sunglasses greatly reduce the blinding effects of glare and enhance colors.

Photochromic
Photochromic lenses automatically adjust to changing light conditions. Both tint and light transmission respond, so when the sun pulls a disappearing act or it knifes through clouds, the sunglasses lenses adapt to bright or darker conditions. Interestingly, photochromic lenses change color when the lenses are exposed to ultraviolet radiation, then, when the lens is removed from direct exposure to UV rays, the lenses go back to their original tint. Worth noting that, while great for sports applications, photochromic lenses aren’t ideal for driving conditions because most cars have UV filters in the windshield that prevent the lenses from activating (changing color).

Hydrophobic, Oleophobic & Hydroleophic lens treatments
Hydrophobic lens treatments prevent moisture buildup so rain and perspiration won’t leave streaks and sheens that compromise your vision. Water droplets ball up and bead off the surface. Oleophobic lens treatments repel oils, making it easier to keep lenses clean. Skin oils, fingerprints, and lotions are wiped away so no residue blurs vision. 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
Applied to the backside of some lenses, often polarized lenses, A/R treatments reduce an irritating ‘ghosting’ effect that can occur when light reflects off the inner area of the eye. Commonly found on polarized lenses, this treatment further reduces glare effects. The treatment generally makes the lens 2% darker and can be identified as a bluish tint located on the inside of the lens.

Mirrored treatments
Created by superheated metal oxides applied to the lens surface, this treatment reflects light and further reduces glare. Mirrored treatments tune the light transmission of lenses for specific sports applications or environments as well as for aesthetics.  We love the style that some of these treatments give the lenses and we think you will too.

Lens Tints
Lens colors or tints are designed to manage light conditions based on your use. While you may gravitate toward one color lens or another, some lens colors boost clarity, distance vision perception and visibility based on how much light or cloud cover exists. That said, choose what makes you happy; sunglasses are often a very personal decision. But if you’re into specific sports like golf, fishing or skiing, you may want to consider a specific color that helps up your game.

 

Blue Sunglasses Tint

  • 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

Green/Gray Green Sunglasses Tint

  • 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

 

Gray Smoke Sunglasses Tint

  • 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

 

Amber/Orange Sunglasses Tint

  • 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) Sunglasses Tint

  • 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

 

Yellow Sunglasses Tint

  • 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

 

Rose (Pink) Sunglasses Tint

  • Good for a variety of sports
  • Enhances depth perception
  • Soothing to the eye
  • Enhances colors in low to medium light

 

We hope our sunglasses guide on materials, treatments and lens colors proves helpful as you start shopping for your next pair of sunglasses.

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