To anglers and those who spend a lot of time outdoors, a pair of sunglasses is critical. The funny part of the word “critical” is, more times than not, less money is spent on them than a gas station burrito. Sunglasses do more shade your eyes or cut down glare, they protect your vision for years to come.
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Vicious Vision founder and optometrist Doug Jordan and asked to him to give us the 5 most important considerations when buying sunglasses for the outdoors.
Below is his list:
Ultraviolet radiation protection
As a veteran optometrist who has seen the effects of UV radiation exposure to the human eye for 25 years, this is by far the most important thing consumers should consider in my opinion. I see people being more conscious of UV protection wearing performance long sleeves, neck gators, etc. Maximum protection with your sun wear should be a top priority when protecting the most valuable sense humans have.
Even cheap gas station sunglass lenses will provide UVA and UVB filtration through the front of the lens. What people don't know is that almost all damaging UV radiation exposure comes from radial reflection off of the back side of the lens in outdoor activities. It is very important that anti UV Radiation/Glare technology be on the back side of the lenses you purchase. The problem with cheap lens technology without these backside features is that the dark tint will cause your pupils to dilate which actually allows more damaging UV Radiation into the eyes.
Sunglass lenses have an ESPF (Eye Sun Protection Factor) rating and most premium lenses have a rating of 25 which means you are 25 times more protected wearing that lens vs. nothing at all. Our Xperio UV technology featured in Vicious Vision is the only lens available with a 50+ ESPF created by Essilor, the largest lens manufacturer in the world. Their R&D is second to none.
Best performance lens color for desired outdoor activities along with polarization
First, polarization is an absolute must when in the outdoors to eliminate glare. I won't go into great detail of the physics behind polarization but in a nutshell, glare is horizontal polarized light caused by the surface it is reflecting off of. Polarized lenses have vertical polarized filters that cancel out the horizontal polarized glare. This is an absolute must on the water to have any chance of seeing fish and structure. It also makes driving much safer, especially in high glare situations such as winter time snow and ice conditions. One last thing with polarization; make sure the polarized filter is in the center of the lenses and not on the surface. Exposure of the filter to the elements can cause it to "craze" which we've all seen on lenses that look like a dried lake bed.
The Vicious Vision pro staff team has been invaluable in helping us field test certain performance lens colors and giving feedback on what works best on the water. All of our tournament anglers unanimously agree that our Copper performance color is the bomb on inland lakes of all water colors and clarity. Our Yellow Moss lens is a very specialized tint we developed that everyone raves about in lower light conditions like early morning blast offs, cloudy days, etc. This lens is also creating a lot of buzz in the bow fishing industry which is 100% sight fishing. Several bow fishing teams have stated they are actually winning more tournaments due to seeing more fish they were missing before.
Here is what I recommend for anglers: For freshwater fishing, stay with a performance color that provides a high level of blue wavelength light filtration. This is your brown, amber and copper tints. The human eye basically processes all colors using photoreceptors in neural tissue called the retina. Light entering the eye from the blue wavelength end of the visible light spectrum does not focus directly on the retina which is what causes "haze" and lack of contrast. These performance colors will filter out this spectrum wavelength which will provide deeper penetration into the water vs. gray lenses.
For offshore anglers, I recommend staying with the darker gray or gray-green performance colors. Offshore anglers are scanning the surface looking for any signs of life or action on the horizon. Our offshore pro staff tells us that the darker gray colors provide greater contrast against the brighter blue waters allowing them to see a fin or feeding action on the surface at great distances.
Lastly, it’s also important to purchase lenses that have anti-glare technology on the BACK of the lens regardless of the performance color. This is where the magic happens when it comes to clarity and game changing performance on the water. Xperio UV lenses feature the most advanced backside coatings ever created by Essilor which is why our pro staff feels like they have a competitive edge when it comes to sight fishing.
In the world of lenses there are 3 basic materials most lenses are made of, glass, polycarbonate and CR39 Resin. Glass is the hardest material and provides excellent optics due to lack of flexure and resistance to expansion/contraction issues in extreme temperatures. However, one major drawback to glass is the weight of the lenses which makes wearing them all day long a challenge. Keeping them up on your nose is also difficult in hot, sweaty conditions. Polycarbonate is the most popular lens material today in most sun wear options. It is very light and impact resistant but it also a "soft" material which makes durability an issue, especially with scratches. It is also more susceptible to flexure and expansion/contraction issues. CR39 Resin actually combines many of the favorable attributes from both glass and polycarbonate. It is a very hard resin which provides excellent optics and scratch resistance. Vicious Vision will be providing polycarbonate offerings for certain applications (shooting) but most of our lenses feature CR39 Resin technology in multiple layers which provides the absolute best combination of optical clarity, durability and impact protection.
Frame fit and warranty
For all day comfort and performance, we all know the frame fit is crucial. There are three basic points I look at when fitting frames on people, first, start at the bridge (nose) and make sure there is a smooth fit around the top of the nose. Second, look at the width of the frame compare to the width of your face. Make sure the frame is not squeezing your temple area which will become uncomfortable throughout the day even if it seems ok when you first put the frame on. Last, make sure the temple provides a comfortable fit on top of the ears. Once a good fit is found, evaluate other features of the frame that will affect your satisfaction with the frame in the outdoors. One thing I always look for on sport frames is rubber inlays on the temples and nose pads. This will provide a more comfortable fit on your nose and make slippage in hot weather much less of an issue. Rubber inlay on the ear pieces will also provide comfort with less slippage and make the glasses stay more secure on your hat if you like to put them up there from time to time like I do.
Stuff happens in the outdoors and having a company that will take care of frame issues through a good warranty is a must. Vicious Vision offers a "true" lifetime warranty on all frames. Lifetime warranties that require payment for repairs or replacement are not true warranties. Our policy is very simple, cover shipping/return shipping to Vicious Vision and we will repair or replace your frame at no charge; no questions asked, period.
Available in prescription?
All premium sun wear brands offer prescription capabilities if needed. One major challenge is the "wrap" of the frames we all like to wear in the outdoors which greatly limits prescription capabilities for a lot of people. As an optometrist fitting frames on patients for over 25 years, I have designed all of our current and soon to be released frame styles to be the most Rx friendly on the planet. Because our lens technology is created by Essilor, the largest prescription lens manufacturer in the world, we have very little limitation on what prescription lenses can be put into Vicious Vision including tricky bifocal designs.
The next time you look for a pair of sunglasses instead of looking at how they look it might be a good idea to look at how they function and ask yourself “just how important are my eyes”. Buying an inexpensive pair of sunglasses might get you through the day but have a longer lasting negative effect you may not recognize.
Here is a link to all the new frames and lens colors. If your local optometrist doesn’t carry them they can by contacting Doug Jordan at Vicious Vision or going to the Xperio website locator page.
For Vicious Vision prescription or non-prescription click here. Click on the “Where to Buy” tab for local dealers for prescription. For non-prescription glasses, there is also a dealer locator on that same page.