How to choose the perfect sunspecs

There's quite a few things to consider when buying new sunglasses beyond the obvious cosmetic factors. Here's a rough guide to choosing the perfect pair:

First of all, the size of the frame is important.

You need to ensure that your sunspecs provide good coverage from strong sunlight. However, you shouldn't choose anything too big or with too much wrap around. Curved lenses exhibit a greater amount of troublesome reflections. Also, if you're having your glasses made up to prescription, your lenses might be unnecessarily thick (and if they are varifocals, suffer from increased peripheral distortion).

Secondly, you need to consider which lens type to go for.  We offer standard, polarised and photochromic.

Standard tints offer the greatest flexibility because you can have your lenses as dark or as light as you want. However you need to choose carefully. Many people make the mistake of choosing the darkest tint possible, perhaps with a forthcoming holiday in mind, then finding their new glasses completely unsuitable in more temperate climates or for driving. You should choose something which will perform well in all your day to day situations.

Polarised lenses give you the best protection against reflected glare. Hence they are an excellent choice for driving, fishing or any water-based activities.  When light hits a flat surface, the reflected light is horizontal in orientation. Polarised lenses block the "bad" horizontal reflected glare but allow the "good" vertical light through.
Note that polarised lenses come in one tint strength only (generally around 85%) - you can't have them any darker or lighter.

We also offer photochromic lenses. These allow you to have just one pair of spectacles that adapts to changing lighting conditions outdoors, so they are usually a very cost-effective solution. Note, however, that these generally don't work very well behind glass, so they won't be of much benefit for driving. Reaction speed is also reduced in exceptionally hot climates, so they're not recommended for tropical holidays.  We supply all the major technologies, including Transitions (Standard & Xtractive variants),  Rodenstock Colormatic (six different tints available) and Zeiss Photofusion.

The next choice you need to make is the actual tint colour. We typically offer brown, grey and green. Your choice will be influenced by

  • The colour of the frame. Obviously, if you choose a brown frame, a brown tint is going to be a logical choice.
  • Personal preference  (some people prefer the 'feel' of a particular colour)
  • What you intend to use the sunspecs for. Certain colours have a slight advantage in specific situations. For example, grey works well if you plan on reading outdoors with them (it reduces the contrast between the bright page and dark text). Brown is good at reducing blue light so this works well for distance use on bright days with no cloud (it's particularly good for cataract patients who may be especially sensitive to this). Green doesn't reduce your contrast or colour perception as much, so is good for driving or certain sports.

Other shades are available, but they're generally not suitable for sunspecs. Blue, for example, is likely to increase the amount of glare rather than reduce it, while orange/yellow will feel too bright.

Finally, you need to consider lens coatings/treatments

You may wish to have an anti-reflection coating. This is particularly beneficial for bigger or curved frames because it reduces both reflected glare and  'ghosting' from the back surface.  A mirror coating can also help reduce reflections.  A hard coat will also be useful to extend the lifespan of your lenses- sunspecs tend to experience a bit more wear and tear than your main pair of spectacles.

Note that all our sunspec lenses have UV protection as standard. This is absolutely essential - If you wear a pair of dark shades, your pupils will be much bigger than they would otherwise be. Without UV protection, this would allow a greater quantity of UV to enter the eye, risking damage or deterioration of your retina or crystalline lens.

Sunspec lenses can be fitted to virtually any ophthalmic frame we have in stock. However if you're looking for something more high-end, we recommend Maui Jim sunglasses. Maui Jim lenses are polarised to eliminate glare, offer optimum colour perception and provide maximum UV protection. Find out more here  (external site)