Look for UV protection, fit, impact resistance

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The ideal pair of sunglasses will vary among individuals. Fair-eyed people, for example, often prefer darker lenses. Our list of must-haves include UV protection, polarization, impact-resistant lenses, and good fit.

ideal lens tint

UV Protection: All sunglasses should block a minimum of 99 percent of UVB and 95 percent of UVA radiation. PS recommends 100-percent protection.

Fit: Glasses should be secure on your face and allow perfect peripheral vision. Look for wraps/shields or frames with large eye coverage for maximum protection from sun and wind.

Lens Material

  • The best lens material often depends on how the glasses are to be used (or abused).
  • Polycarbonate lenses: very high impact resistance, can be thin and light, good optics.
  • CR-39: good optics, comfortable and lightweight, common for prescription.
  • Glass: Clear, crisp vision but can be heavy, very scratch-resistant.
  • Propionate/acetate: thin and light lenses, not for prescription.
  • NXT: polyurethane, very impact resistant, good optics.
  • Trivex: impact resistant, good optics, not available in polarized.
  • SR-91: impact resistant, good optics.

Lens Treatments/ Tints

Tints and treatments help define the lens purpose. A glare-reducing polarizing filter is a must.

Photochromic: Good UV protection, adjusts tint to varied light conditions.

Scratch-resistant/hydrophobic: minimizes abrasions (front and back) and can help repel water.

Mirror flash treatment: Reflects light, conceals eyes.

Copper or brown tint: Helps improve contrast and bottom definition.

Rose or amber tint: Lenses that block only 70 percent of visible light are good general-purpose lenses for early morning/late afternoon/early evening.

Grey tint: Good general purpose tint that is good for mid-day use and maintains natural colors.

Care and cleaning

A hardcover case is key to protecting your investment. A soft microfiber bag is convenient way to protect lenses.

Never use paper towels, tissue products, or your clothes to clean your eyewear. To avoid scratching your lenses, use a specialized eyewear cleaning cloth that is soft and lint free.

Dont leave your glasses in the sun or on the dashboard of your car. Excessive heat and cold can cause them to warp over time.

Sources: Vision Council (www.thevisioncouncil.org), Dr. Karl Citek at Pacific University College of Optometry.

Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.

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