Sunglass lenses and tints

By By Clive de Jongh - B.Optom (UOFS) CAS(SA)

Sunglasses have become an important way for individuals to express their personality or enhance their style. Some prefer a sophisticated look, while others like a plain design. Either way, it is important to wear sunglasses to protect your vision by minimizing the impact of the sun on your eyes and improve your overall eye care.

Sunglasses are available in many different frame designs and lens tints designed to enhance your visual needs in different environments.

Different types of lenses:
  • Impact resistant material: If you play high impact sports, use polycarbonate as this is a thin, plastic, impact resistant material. 

  • Polarized lenses: These lenses contain a laminated filter that allows only vertically oriented light to pass through. This blocks the horizontally oriented light so glare is eliminated. .

  • Photochromic lens:  this is a great choice for people who want to have one pair of eyeglasses that function as both prescription lenses and sunglasses. 

  • Standard solid tint:  A solid tint can be made almost any color and tends to cost less than a polarized lens product.

  • Gradient tint: A gradient tint is made with a darker color at the top of the lens and gradually lightens up to the bottom of the lens. 

  • Anti-reflective treatments:  Also known as anti-glare technology is added to almost all clear lenses, making the lenses look invisible, decreases annoying glare and cuts down on scattered light and reflections. This can also be incorporated into your sunglasses.

Different color tints and their benefits:

Brown, dark amber or copper – Best color to protect your eyes from harmful sun rays; enhances visibility in low-light situations; blocks high amounts of blue light.

Gray – Masks bright light; preserves 100 percent of normal color recognition

Yellow or orange – Heightens contrasts in low-light conditions; filters blue for sharper focus. 

Amber, rose or red – Improves light contrast in partly cloudy and sunny conditions; increases significant color imbalances; enhances visibility of objects against blue and green backgrounds.

Green – minimally improves contrast while preserving color balance.

Before purchasing sunglasses, schedule an eye exam with your optometrist. Even a small amount of refractive error or a small change in your spectacle prescription can make a big difference in giving you the clearest, most comfortable vision when wearing sunglasses.