Aviator style sunglasses still flying high

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Ray Ban aviators airmen

The Philippines seems an unlikely stage for the launch of the classic aviator lens style of many brands of modern designer sunglasses.

First issued to US wartime pilots in the Second World War, the sunglasses soared to giddy fashion heights when American General Douglas MacArthur donned a pair while on a visit to US troops in the Far East.

The oversized teardrop shape was not only perfect for pilots, offering maximum eye protection at high altitudes but also managed to look sexy, even on an ageing general.

Originally manufactured by Ray-Ban, the lens style, now nicknamed 'aviator', became hugely popular with the American public.

The teardrop style was quickly emulated by other sunglasses manufacturers and today most designer brands offer an 'aviator-style' lens in their collections.

Aviator-style sunglass lenses have dominated the sunglasses market ever since with women, in particular, buying into the unique look.

Aviator frames are best in metal

The large aviator lenses look their best in thin metal frames. Because the lens area is relatively large, metals chosen for aviator frames must combine strength and durability.

Common types of metal found in aviator frames are various alloys of stainless steel, aluminium and copper. Titanium is often the choice for higher end aviator sunglasses but it can ratchet up the price.

The frame wraps around the entire lens and usually has a double or even a triple bridge across the nose.

Aviator frames also often come with bayonet-type arms — a legacy of when the sunglasses were designed to slide easily beneath pilots' wartime helmets.

Some manufacturers do produce aviator sunglasses with plastic frames but these are shunned by purists who insist that metal frames are the hallmark of aviators,

Plastic aviator frames do have certain advantages over metal, however. The frames can come in a range of colours and they do allow for even larger lenses.

Plastic aviator frames are also much more flexible than metal that can bend or break relatively easily. Many of the metal aviator frames that arrive in the workshops of AlphaOmega Glasses Repair are there for bent or broken frames.

Aviator lenses are slightly curved

Aviator lenses may look flat but they are slightly curved, a quality that helps protect the eyes against ultraviolet (UV) light from all angle.

Exposure to UV light rays can trigger a range of eye problems, from photokeratitis to cataracts and the protection offered by aviators lenses was the primary reason they were chosen for use by US pilots.

These days aviator sunglass lenses can also come with a range of coatings and surface treatments that offer extra eye protection.

Polarised lenses filter out horizontally aligned light waves. This helps to reduce glare without affecting the clarity of vision and are particularly useful for drivers, especially those behind the wheel in bright conditions.

Mirrored lenses also cut down on the light hitting the eye by reflecting rays back. Although they can look very striking, it does mean that the wearer sees less of the outside world as clarity is lost along with the light.

Coloured lenses some in a range of tints, each of which has its own characteristics. Brown and grey tints are the most popular as they don't affect the colours of what the user sees, reducing colour saturation without affect the hue.

Yellow and orange lenses give the world a warm colour cast but can be useful in low light conditions. Images remain bright and depth perception is improved, making yellow lenses the ideal choice of outdoor sports enthusiasts, especially skiers and snowboarders.

Red lenses also score on brightness and depth perception, especially in low light conditions, making then the first choice for outdoor pursuits in variable light conditions such as hiking and camping.

Aviator sunglasses still the biggest sellers

Aviator sunglasses have a long pedigree that has withstood the test of time. Every bit as popular as they were among pilots in World War Two, they have become the mainstream product for many designer brands.

Famous for the large lenses and teardrop shape, aviators are popular with men and women alike. Metal frame aviators are still the biggest sellers but sales of plastic frames are growing.

Whatever the choice of material, if your sunglasses ever get bent or broken or if lenses get scratched or dimmed through normal wear and tear, AlphaOmega staff have the skills to repair your glasses frames and lenses in double quick time and at a realistic price.