Sports Sunglasses are often considered to be just a fashion accessory but for a sports person they are a necessity. They should be the most important accessory for any athlete who spends time outdoors.
Sport sunglasses protect the eyes from the sun's harmful rays, promote healthy eyes, which leads more comfort.
Sports sunglasses serve several functions for athletes who should be aware of the many advantages to wearing sunglasses daily.
1. Sun Protection
Sports sunglasses help protect eyes from the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV radiation from sunlight has been linked to the development of cataracts, eye cancers, and age-related macular degeneration, among other eye diseases.
Good sports sunglasses with a wraparound style protect the delicate skin around the eyes from these rays that also cause wrinkling and premature aging.
Good quality sunglasses block 99 to 100 percent of the sun's harmful UV rays.
2. Glare Reduction
The sun's glare is especially strong on surfaces such as water, snow, and vehicle windshields. These light reflections can be very distracting and significantly impede vision. This is very dangerous when cycling.
During sports, sunglasses help decrease glare for safer vision.
Polarized sunglasses are especially effective at cutting reflective glare when the sun bounces off of certain surfaces particularily water.
Sports sunglasses act as a barrier between the wearer's eyes and environmental conditions. When wearing sunglasses in windy conditions, they reduce the rate of evaporation of tears and help keep eyes moist and comfortable. If the wearer uses contact lenses, this protection is especially needed so that lenses do not dry out.
Sports sunglasses prevent windblown particles, such as dust and dirt, from getting into the eyes and causing a corneal scratch. Close-fitting, wraparound sunglasses are very effective at decreasing the potential for dry eyes and eye injuries from windblown particles.
The best sport sunglasses lenses are made from Polycarbonate or Trivex NXT. This lens material has superb impact resistance and great optical clarity. Trivex NXT is slightly better than even the best Polycarbonate.
Sports sunglasses with 2mm thick polycarbonate and NXT lenses are less likely to shatter upon impact than other types of plastic and glass lenses. Therefore any serious sport sunglasses will have 2mm thick polycarbonate or NXT lenses. Sport sunglasses should, as a minimum, comply with ANSI87.1.
4. Headache and Eyestrain Reduction
The pupil at the front of the eye controls how much light reaches the light-sensitive retina in the back of the eye. In dim light, the pupil gets bigger, or dilates, to allow more light to enter. In bright light, the pupil gets smaller to prevent too much light from striking the retina.
In really sunny conditions, the pupil is not able to constrict small enough to reduce light to a comfortable level. This causes a person to squint, thus reducing the space between the upper and lower lids and blocking light. Continual squinting causes muscle fatigue. Additionally, constant constriction of the pupil can lead to headaches and eyestrain. Because sunglasses reduce the amount of light that reaches the eyes to a more appropriate level, the need for squinting and severe pupil constriction is eliminated. Therefore, comfort is increased and headaches and eyestrain are reduced.
5. Vision Improvement
The eyes require a certain range of ambient light for good vision, and too much light is just as bad as too little. Excessive brightness causes glare, light-induced "bleaching" of the retina, and squinting. All of these can temporarily reduce visual acuity.
On bright sunny days, sunglasses reduce the amount of light that reaches the retina to more manageable, optimal levels for clear, comfortable vision.
6. Fashion vs Function
Sports sunglasses are fashionable but they do not boast large frames wide frames like fashion brands. These large, heavy frames can give some people a headache as the weight causes stress on the bridge of the nose, the tops of the ears, and or the temples.
Sports sunglasses have to be lightweight which reduces or eliminates this problem. The best choice of frame material is Grilamid TR90, which is special plastic composite used for the sunglasses frame. Grilamid TR90 is super strong, yet flexible, resistant to chemicals (like suntan lotion, hair spray and sweat) and the suns UV Rays.
The best sports sunglasses are designed to benefit athletes and have (as a minimum) the following feastures:
(i) Adjustable features.
The best sport sunglasses should have nose pieces that you can adjust in two dimensions. Firstly, you have to be able to adjust the nose piece for the width of your nose. Secondly, you need to be able to adjust the nose piece to move the sunglasses close or further from your face.
(ii) Adjustable temple arms.
The temple arms should be able to be adjusted to size of your head. This means they will stay in place on your face or even when they are on your head. You don't want your sports sunglasses to move around during exercise
(iii) Soft rubber.
Soft rubber on the temple arms and nose pieces means that the sunglasses are more comfortable. This is a useful feature and means the sport sunglasses are more comfortable during those long training sessions.
(iv) Wraparound style.
This useful feature means that they will block out 30% of the sun's harmful UV rays from entering the eyes from the sides.
(v) Interchangeable lenses.
Sports sunglasses give you the option to change the lenses. It's great to be able to switch the lenses to suit the environment and lighting conditions. Top sports sunglasses brands will have a system
So, if you are an athlete, sports sunglasses are much more than a fashion accessory and should be the most important accessory for any athlete who spends time outdoors.
These are my views. If you have any comments on this blog then please let me know your views in the remark column below.
Tim Hallworth is a triathlete, adventure racer and ultra marathon runner and with his wife Fenny is co-founder of AMO sunglasses.