Golfing, Fishing, Winter Sports, and More

Just as sports officials are becoming more concerned with overall physical safety for athletes, more people are wearing specialized eyewear to protect their eyes and give them protection and sharp vision while performing their sport. Specialty eyewear options are available and tailored to just about every sport. All you have to do is know your sporting needs and talk to an eye care professional to discuss your options. It’s nice to know what to expect and what you can get other than just wearing contact lenses.

Here are some of the most common options and things to consider for glasses, goggles, or other specialty eyewear with unique capabilities to increase your sporting performance.

Darkened/tinted or photochromic lenses. Is your sport outdoors? Protection from bright sunlight and UV rays is crucial! Watersports and winter sports involve glares coming up from the snow or water. The bright light is damaging to your eyes and very uncomfortable if you’re not protected. Certain color tints can also help make sports glasses more functional. Golf glasses, for example, often use a copper or amber color that improves the contrast of grass and sky so you can read the course better. Make sure that you invest in glasses that will fit your outdoor setting.

Fitting with other gear. Eyewear for activities like motorsports, cycling, or football will need to fit with headgear. Be sure to test your eyewear with your uniform or additional gear, and talk to your eye care professional about the other items you’ll be wearing along with your eyewear.

Durability. In sports like racquetball, or really any sport with objects that are swung or flung around, you face the risk of getting hit and injuring your eyes if they’re not protected. This also means that your glasses or goggles are likely to take a beating while protecting your eyes. Scratch-resistance and high-impact polycarbonate materials are often used in sports eyewear to be sure that they will have a long life and will be able to shield your eyes from harm.

Considerations for contact lenses. Those who wear contact lenses and will be doing their sport in the elements can benefit greatly from glasses that wrap around the face. Protection from wind and debris will ensure that no irritants enter the eye and affect your contact lenses.

Protection from other substances. Watersports may come to mind when you think of goggles that protect your eyes from liquid, but there are other sports like paintball that could greatly damage the eyes if not protected. Specialty masks with breathable vents that allow air in will be sure to keep paint out. Goggles for watersports have similar features to keep water out of your eyes so you can see clearly under the water or above.

Polarized lenses. Probably the most important aspect of eyewear for fishing is polarization. Polarized lenses make it possible to see under the surface of the water because the lenses are specially made to cut down refracted light. Once the sunlight bouncing off the water is minimized, it’s far easier to see into the water and read important fishing features like vegetation, depth, underwater landscape, and even fish! Other water and winter sports can benefit from polarization as well to prevent the eyes from glaring sunlight.

Make sure that you’re prepared for your sport with protective gear and the right eyewear to keep your eyes on the prize. See an eye care professional to give your eyes a sporting chance!

Non-Glare Lenses

Non-glare (or anti-reflective) coating is a common and cost-effective feature that many eyeglass wearers elect to have put on their lenses. It’s one of those things that you usually don’t notice or think about when you have it, but you notice when it’s not there!

Non-glare lenses are simply lenses that have this anti-reflective coating applied to the lens. Anti-reflective coating works by eliminating the reflections of light from the front and back the lens. Typical anti-reflective coating allows 99.5 percent of light to pass through, meaning that there is only a very faint hint of light on the lens even in the brightest conditions. The anti-glare protection allows more light to come through, and results in better vision for you as well as a better view for others. When people look at you, they won’t see a glare off of the lenses of your glasses. Glares off of your glasses can ruin pictures and be distracting to people speaking with you because the glare obscures the view of your eyes.

Beyond the cosmetic reasons, the largest benefits of anti-reflective coating are sharper vision when driving at night, and more comfort when using a computer for long periods of time. You won’t experience a glare from the computer screen, and the sharper vision will mean easier focusing for your eyes.

It’s also a good idea get the anti-reflective coating applied to the back surface of your sunglasses. This helps eliminate glare from sunlight when the sun is behind you. Most AR coatings now also include a layer that prevents water spots, thus making them much easier to clean. There are even coatings that help resist skin oils while also making smudges easier to wipe off.

Glasses that have anti-reflective coating should be given special care, as some lens cleaners contain chemicals that could damage the anti-reflective coating. With any eyewear, make sure you know how to care for your gear to give it a long and useful life. Ask your eye care professional if you have questions about care for your eye wear, or would like to know more about anti-glare options.

Photochromic Lenses

Lenses that darken automatically when exposed to various levels of light are called photochromic or light-adaptive lenses. This technology was discovered in the 1960s, but it didn’t really catch on until the 1990s. The convenience of photochromic lenses is huge: they’re basically like getting two complete pairs of glasses—regular glasses and sunglasses—in one!

How the technology works is pretty cool. In glass photochromic lenses, silver compounds are embedded into the lens material. When exposed to varying levels of sunlight, the compounds go through a chemical change that increases their size, allowing them to block out more light. Once the bright sunlight subsides, the molecules return to their normal size. Plastic light-adaptive lenses use similar photochromic molecules to create the darkening effect. The reaction that causes the material to darken as it absorbs varying levels of light is completely reversible which is why the lenses go back to clear or only slightly tinted when the wearer is out of bright sunlight.

The only issue you may encounter with light-adaptive lenses is that the photochromic reaction depends to some extent on temperature. In very hot weather, they may not darken all the way. When you first step into the sunlight, the darkening effect happens in about a minute. Over the next several minutes, they may darken just a little more, until achieving their final darkness after about 15 minutes (which depends on the brand and material of lenses). The first reaction will be drastic and give you more than enough light protection to continue into the sun with your vision protected.

If the final darkness of regular light-adaptive lenses isn’t dark enough for what you need, photochromic sunglasses can help. Their darkness when not in the sunlight is still darker than normal glasses. For that reason, most people don’t use these as their only pair of glasses because they won’t see as well indoors. They are a great option for people like drivers, for example, who spend a large part of their time shielding their eyes from sunlight and can wear their backup glasses in low-light settings. The other reason they’re good for drivers is that most windshields block out the UV light that causes the darkening reaction. With a UV-blocking windshield, bright light coming through your windshield will not cause your lenses to darken, leaving you squinting and straining.

There are some other interesting uses of photochromic technology. One medical application involves tinting for certain shades of red. These lenses can be used for various eye conditions including macular degeneration. Of course, there are further recreational uses of adapting tints, too. Red and green shades are used to make a fashion statement, but yellow and amber tints can be used in hunting and sporting glasses to help increase contrast, especially when it is cloudy. Tints can be applied and used in adaptive lenses in just about any color. Want to see the world through rose-colored glasses? It’s possible!

Talk to your eye care professional to test a pair of light-adaptive lenses and see how they’ll help make your everyday life a little easier.

How to Pick Your Glasses – From Functional to Fashion-Forward

Picking eyeglasses can be a difficult process of trial and error, especially if you haven’t done it many times before. The problem is that, unlike shopping for clothing where you may have a good idea of what fits you and what your favorite colors and patterns are, people can sometimes be vague on what they want for glasses (or have no idea at all). Few people know the most important factors for getting the right glasses for you: the shape of your face and which glasses will accent that shape, color and design options available to fit your preference, and features that will work best with your lifestyle.

Instead of standing in front of racks of frames and trying them on for what could be hours, consider these things first. Ask an observant friend or your eye care professional if you need help.

Which glasses will look best on you is most reliant on the shape of your face. Take a head-on look in the mirror and notice the shape of your face. Is your face taller and more arrow, or shorter and rounded? Is your face more like a diamond, or maybe a triangle shape? Is the bone structure angular, or do you have soft curves? Once you narrow that down, it’s easier to start shopping. Sometimes it helps to do an internet search and see examples of different face shapes and see which one most closely resembles you.

If your face is small, large frames will make your face look even smaller, and your features will get lost behind your glasses. If you have a larger face, small glasses will look out of proportion and make your eyes appear small. Rounded glasses soften an angular face, but a soft face can look balanced and cool with an edgy pair of angular glasses. It may take a few tries to hit on what style of glasses look good on you, but usually there are several models that will look sharp. You can narrow down your selection further once you decide on the general style that you prefer.

You can also look at trends for frame styles based on age. There’s no reason that a young person can’t wear rimless glasses, or a senior can’t wear something bright, but we tend to see trends that vary by age group. Younger people are choosing old-fashioned styles that have become popular again. Vintage styles like horn-rimmed, Wayfarer, and Clubmaster glasses have become cool unisex styles for younger people who want a classic look. Older women are making fun, youthful looks with black frames and unique, funky shapes that are creative, but still convey their professional status. Older men in particular might like frameless and very thin frames that have a mature and barely-there look.

Next, think about your personality and fashion sense. Are you the kind of person who would enjoy something bold, or do you tend to shy away from being the center of attention? Don’t be afraid to be creative with your selection if it suits you. Many frames come in patterns like plaid or animal print, or offer clear or other modern materials that will make your glasses pop.

What color will look best with your skin tone, hair, eyes, and apparel? Do you have a varied color palette for clothing, or are most of your clothes in similar colors? If you don’t plan on buying a new wardrobe, it’s a good idea to factor in your apparel as well as the overall tone of your skin and hair. Do you wear blue jeans and lots of cool greens, grays, and purples, or are you a more summery, bright yellow and orange palette? For skin tone, warmer colors would be a pink or yellow skin, whereas olive skin falls on the cooler side. Someone with rich brown hair, a more yellow skin tone, and coppery brown eyes might look strange in cool blue frames, for instance.

How dark or fair your skin is will also have an effect on your choice. Darker skin looks good with light colored glasses for a nice contrast, but fair skin looks better with a neutral tone that won’t make them look washed out. People with a medium skin tone can get a slick look with solid, bright colors.

Finally, make sure that you pick glasses that work for your lifestyle. If you’re big on adventure or you have young children who might be after your eyewear, ask about frames that are more durable and able to bend without breaking. Do you usually have to look professional, or can you be casual on a daily basis? If you’re getting one pair of glasses and not multiple pairs, you’ll need to be sure that your final pick can fit your needs and normal daily setting.

If you’re getting ready for your visit and will be picking glasses, wear an outfit that you usually wear, and do your hair and makeup in a way that’s typical for you. Ask your eye care professional for help if you want a second opinion, or get their assistance to narrow down some options. Let a professional help you create a new face!

Polarized Sunglasses

Squinting into the sun and focusing in bright light is very hard on your eyes. Eye care professionals stress the importance of sunglasses and shading your eyes to protect your vision, but many people aren’t aware of the benefits that come from polarized lenses. They’re not just for fishermen to see into the water!

When you’re not on the dock or deck of your boat, you will continue to see the benefits of polarization. Polarized lenses can help cut glares off of surfaces like the road in front of you or the hood of your vehicle. Even bright light outdoors or through windows can be mellowed with polarized lenses.

The reason that polarized lenses work is that they cut out certain waves of light. Normal light tends to go in all directions, but light that bounces off of a surface tends to “polarize” and align itself horizontally. So sunlight beating down on the water doesn’t appear as ambient light once it bounces off the water, because it hits that reflective surface and bounces up, glaring into your eyes. Polarized lenses are specially made with a vertical polarization so that they cut out that intense reflected light and let you see more of the natural light you’d see if there was no glare. Pretty cool, right? You can even experiment with glasses to see if they’re polarized by holding them out and rotating the lens to see if the glare lessens or not.

Some people may notice instances where polarized lenses are not helpful, however. Cell phone screens, LCD and GPS displays can be more difficult to read. In some cases, much brighter light is something you need to see, like in downhill skiing. A bright patch alerts the skier to ice, and polarization would make it harder to see. But most everyday skiers and snowboarders would like to ease the bright light reflecting off of the snow if they’re not in icy conditions. Other than a few rare occasions, polarized lenses can do a lot to improve your vision for many applications. Ask your eye care professional for help deciding if polarization is right for your eyewear.

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