Lens Color and UV Protection
The main purpose of sunglasses is to reduce the brightness of ambient light to a more comfortable level. The color you choose for your lenses is up to you. However, be aware that bright or unusual lens colors may alter your color perception significantly. For this reason, it’s usually best (from a visual standpoint) to choose lenses that are gray, brown or green.
The color and the darkness of the tint in your lenses affects only the amount of visible light that passes through your lenses. You cannot determine how much ultraviolet (UV) light passes through a sunglass lens by looking at its color. The level of UV protection sunglasses provide is determined by the lens material and whether any UV-absorbing lens coatings have been applied to the lens. Regardless of the color and darkness of the lenses you choose, make sure your sunglasses provide 100 percent protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Lens Color Considerations
Gray sunglass lenses reduce light intensity without altering the color of objects. Thus, they provide the most natural color vision. Gray is the most popular sunglass lens color in the United States.
Brown lenses enhance contrast by blocking a larger percentage of blue light than gray lenses do. Brown lenses provide a warmer appearance to colors and make greens more vibrant.
Green sunglass lenses provide a cool, soothing tone to colors. Though not as popular as gray or brown lenses, green lenses are often used to create the classic look of aviator-style sunglasses.
Amber sunglass lenses block all or nearly all blue light for superior contrast. Amber-colored lenses are frequently referred to as “blue blocker” lenses or “shooter’s sunglasses.” (Amber-colored lenses are popular among hunters because they provide enhanced contrast when looking at birds and clay targets against the sky.) Though these lenses enhance contrast, they also distort colors and may not be suitable for driving and other activities that require accurate color recognition.
Pink, Orange, Rose and Blue
These and other vibrant colors are available for fashion sunglasses. These lens colors can cause severe color distortion and are unsuitable for driving and other tasks when color recognition is important.
Color Density Considerations
- The best color density (darkness) for your sunglass lenses will depend on your personal preference and the ambient light level and activities you are involved in when wearing them.
- For general-purpose wear, choose the lightest density that will be comfortable for you in both sunny and overcast conditions. Be careful not to choose lenses that are too dark, as they may impair your vision in the shade or in rapidly changing lighting conditions.
- If you are purchasing sunglasses for skiing or hiking in snow, choose lenses with a darker tint than those in your general-purpose sunglasses. Consider lenses with a double-gradient mirror coating for extra protection from the sunlight above and the reflected light from snow on the ground.
- In some cases, your Optician can adjust the density of your sunglass tint. If you are unhappy with the darkness of your lenses, ask if they can bleach out or add more tint to your lenses for better comfort.
When selecting sunglass lens color, personal preference and activity type play crucial roles. While gray, brown, and green lenses offer a more natural color perception, other shades might distort colors, impacting activities like driving. Regardless of color choice, the paramount consideration should be ensuring 100% UV protection for the eyes. Always opt for a tint density that ensures visibility across varying light conditions, and seek professional advice if adjustments are required.