If your sun lenses are 100% UV protective, you’ve already covered the most important aspect of sunglasses.
They’ll stop your eyes getting sunburnt.
But how does lens colour affect their performance? And should you use a particular colour for your lifestyle, the weather conditions or just plain style?
To explain, this lens colour guide should clear things up.
Varying colours of sun lens tints filter light in varying ways. For general use, grey green or brown tinted lenses are popular for true colour perception, whilst blue or yellow tints are better suited to specific purposes and/or light conditions.
Grey tinted sun lenses are the most common colour amongst sunglasses. They’re great for all-round use in various light conditions from high exposure to cloudy days. Due to their neutrality, they provide true colour perception which is helpful for tasks like driving. Aesthetically, grey lenses won’t clash with colourful acetates or your attire.
Green tinted sun lenses are a highly adaptable colour of lens much like grey. From high exposure to low light conditions, they’re good at reducing glare and improving visual contrast. Like grey lenses, they’re useful for reducing eyestrain on particularly bright days. Aesthetically, green sun lenses are very traditional, harmonising with many frame styles and colours.
Brown tinted sun lenses are another predominant lens colour. They’re best suited towards intermittent sun with breaks of cloud cover. Brown lenses help to reduce glare, regardless of polarisation and are good for general use. They have very mild colour distortion. Aesthetically, brown lenses are a classic choice and work well with many colours of acetates.
Yellow tinted sun lenses are suited towards low light conditions on cloudy days, during haze or fog. They’re especially popular for sporting applications where cloud cover is imminent such as skiing, hillwalking, hunting or mountain biking. Yellow lenses cause colour distortion but yield sharper vision in poor/flat light. Aesthetically, yellow lenses are recognised as a sporting lens.
Blue tinted sun lenses provide good visual contrast in low light conditions. For alpine sports such as skiing, blue lenses are especially useful in foggy conditions otherwise known as flat light. They help you detect undulations in snow and aren’t particularly good for high exposure sunlight. Aesthetically, blue tinted lenses are fashionable but aren’t as common as other lens colours.
Red tinted sun lenses are commonly used in sports for increasing depth of field, making it easier to see differing road textures and deviation. This makes them especially popular for cycling as riding demands forward planning and quick reactions to oncoming road undulations. Aesthetically, red lenses are often recognised as a sporting lens.
Mirror tinted sun lenses are primarily grey, brown or green with an additional metallic lens coating. This very thin metallic layer informs it’s externally mirrored colouration, whilst the tint colour is what you experience internally looking through the lens. The metallic coating reflects sunlight away from the lens reducing visible light between 10 and 60% to help diminish glare. These lenses are not polarised.
Darkness of sunglasses lenses has no relation to UV protection. Dark lenses may reduce visible light for visual comfort, but must always provide 99-100% UV protection. Because UV is invisible, tint darkness is purely a visual preference, secondary to UV protection.
Recreational sunglasses lenses are usually tinted between 60 to 80% darkness. This classes them as category 2 or category 3 lens in relation to the amount of visible light they transmit. There are 5 categories of sun lenses ranging from 0% tint (optical) to very dark lenses beyond 82%.
For more information about sunglasses tint percentage, check out this blog.
The 5 categories of sun lenses ranging from 0% to 82%, tint. The darkness of a lens is measured by the amount of visible light which can pass through, optically known as VLT (visible light transmission.) This percentage is what classes a lens into each of the 5 categorises.
Mirrored sunglasses have multiple anti-glare lens coatings and a very thin metallic film in their construction. These layers reflect light away from your eyes to reduce visible light between 10-60%. They do not filter light like polarised lenses do but are a good alternative to regular tinted sun lenses.
For more information about polarised sunglasses check out this blog.
For bright days, sunglasses with grey, green or brown tinted lenses provide the best results. These colours reduce glare and provide the purest perception of colour. To reduce visual fatigue on bright days, polarised lenses block condensed sunlight reflected from flat shiny surfaces such as water, snow or ice.
The most common colour of polarised sun lenses is grey, brown or green as they perform well in the majority of light conditions. Grey tints are usually favoured due to their neutrality as they don’t affect colour perception. Other tint colours are available, however colour distortion and extreme changes in light conditions may impede their performance.
Sunglasses with grey, brown or green tinted lenses have the least affect on your colour perception. For driving, any of these lens colours are suitable for detecting traffic and brake lights whilst protecting your eyes from UV light and reducing visual fatigue as you focus on the road.
To reduce eye strain on bright days, polarised polarised sunglasses are wise option to diminish reflected glare from other cars, the road surface or nearby water, ice or snow.
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