Mountain Musings: The quest for the best summer eyewear
SUMMER EYEWEAR, PART 2:
To prep for summer, last week’s column covered the ins and outs of sunglass UV protection levels, lens materials and polarization. Scott Linn, certified optician and owner of Winter Park Optical, offered to explain other considerations when choosing the best eyewear for your needs.
RR: So Scott, what else are we looking for in sunglasses?
SL: Lens color makes a big difference in optics. You can find a variety of colors: amber, rose, gray, brown, yellow, the list goes on. To put it simply, there is no one lens for all conditions, and each serve a specific purpose. Color preference is entirely up to the individual and their light sensitivities.
RR: I’ve been seeing a comeback of mirrored lenses. Care to explain the purpose of mirroring?
SL: Mirroring is mostly used on sunglasses for aesthetic appeal. While mirroring darkens a lens, (decreasing the amount of light that travels to your eye) on most lenses the darkening is subtle; the visual affect is minimal.
RR: I love my giant wrapped sunglasses for summer sports… any downside to them?
SL: The shape of a lens definitely matters. Many sport sunglasses wrap lenses around the face to increase peripheral vision. While the increased vision is a definite benefit, drastic curving of the lens causes a prismatic affect, a bending of light. This bending breaks all the light up, and causes eye strain and fatigue for the wearer, because our eyes will always go in search of light. The more expensive companies compensate for and minimize the effect of the hard wraps; they work to bring the light through as cleanly as possible.
RR: Interesting. What else are we looking for when choosing sunglasses?
SL: A person may prefer a fixed bridge versus adjustable nose pieces. Additionally, some styles offer rubber traction behind the ears or on the nose piece for to improved comfort and performance. If you’re spending a lot of time in sunglasses, you want them to be comfortable and not have pressure points.
RR: All this begs the question: why should we be concerned with protecting our eyes in the first place?
SL: In the mountains, we’re getting a higher level of UV light since there is less atmosphere to protect us from the sun’s rays. Risks of not protecting your eyes are accelerated cataracts, damage to the retina, sunburn to the eye… all these lead to rapid deterioration of the eye over time. Whether it’s the retina, the cornea, the lens, all are going downhill fast if you don’t take measures to protect them. Foreign bodies can also be a concern. Anyone clipping down a bike trail at a nice pace can relate, bugs in the eyes or tiny little twigs sticking out that you didn’t even notice can cause quite a sting.
RR: Yikes. Now I’ll most definitely take care to toss mine on whenever I’m out. Any last thoughts on summer eye protection?
SL: Not everybody needs or wants the top-of-the-line best in sunglasses. If someone loses their glasses all the time, getting a $100 pair is not ideal for them. They can still get a great lens from a great company for $20. It’s just about knowing what questions to ask and what to look for. For many in the Valley, sunglasses are not a luxury, they’re one of the daily tools we need in order to work; you don’t normally have just one pair of shoes or one jacket, you’ve got different options for different conditions. Generally you can’t get one sunglass for every condition, but if you do your research, you can get pretty darn close and supplement from there.
RR: Thanks so much for sharing your time and expertise, Scott.
So there you have it, readers. Linn has given us great information on choosing the right sunglasses for our mountain lifestyles and activities. Choose your lens material, color, shape and protection level, decide if you’ll opt for features such as polarization or mirroring, and you’ll be all set to find your ideal summer eyewear.
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