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Choosing glasses for sport

Choosing the best eyewear for sport

Most sports require sharp, clear vision and seeing objects clearly will significantly impact your game, no matter which sport you play. Optimal vision will boost confidence, improve ability and reduce the risk of injury.
Different sporting activities have differing requirements for vision and the needs of a golfer; playing in wide-open spaces is quite distinct from those of the cyclist who needs to pick out details of the road surface.
Fortunately, spectacle, sunglasses and lens manufacturers have focused on the visual requirements of different sporting environments. There is now a wide variety of glasses designed to help sports enthusiasts get the best from their game, no matter the setting.

Lens coatings for clarity

Many modern lens coatings have been finely calibrated to provide maximum clarity to match the most appropriate sporting environment. Golfers, for example, need to assess the slope of the green, while trail riders benefit from enhanced contrast in light and shade. Modern lenses can be calibrated to provide the highest clarity for their most likely conditions. Special coatings can emphasise the essential parts of the colour spectrum and filter out any light that might impair vision. Lens coatings can be honed to perform in various environments. The result is a sharper visual perception in the most appropriate colour ranges, higher contrast in the areas that matter and greater detail where required. Black or green lenses are often best for driving, cycling and running, while blue, polarised lenses are ideal for sailing and fishing. Pink or red lenses are favoured for field sports such as golf or cricket. At the same time, mountain bikers and trail runners will opt for brown shades.

Glasses materials for sport

The type of material used in frame and lens manufacture can play a big part in efficacy in sports performance. Lenses will be made of glass or polycarbonate. Glass can't be beaten for clarity of vision but is less robust on impact. Polycarbonate lenses are generally cheaper but more prone to scratches. They are also more versatile than glass, with technological advances allowing single-lens wraparounds and Interchangeable snap-on lenses that let users change lenses to adapt to weather conditions. New technology has helped reduce the weight of frames so much that modern sports eyewear seems virtually weightless. At the same time, hypoallergenic materials protect the skin, which is vital in sports where glasses are worn for long periods.

Making glasses fit for purpose.

Many sports, such as running, cycling and trail biking, can be very energetic with plenty of head movement in testing conditions. While sports enthusiasts want glasses that stay in place, they don't want glasses that feel tight or uncomfortable, especially in sports that produce plenty of sweat. Modern frames manufactured from ultra-light materials ensure that glasses remain in place without discomfort in even the most demanding circumstances. Fogged-up lenses are a particular problem, especially in sports such as cycling. This is especially true of single shield lens designs that wrap around the face. Fortunately, technology has again come to the rescue with lenses that promote good air circulation while keeping eyes from wind and dust particles.

Shades and tints for sportswear

Many brands of sportswear glasses will offer a range of tints and coatings to improve vision in various environments. A tint or coating will fit the bill, whatever your sport. Grey-tinted lenses are the most versatile as this colour is effective in the broadest range of conditions as light is filtered across the whole colour spectrum. Brown and amber-tinted lenses are other popular choices as they increase contrast, which aids judgement of distances. Lighter amber tints enhance colour in cloudy or hazy conditions with lower light levels. A red or vermillion hue can reduce eye strain induced by strong sunshine in wide-open spaces when light levels are higher and can increase contrast.

Lenses for outdoor sports.

Outdoor sports enthusiasts often encounter bright light and glare from reflected surfaces that can impair vision. Sailing and windsurfing are sports where cutting glare can dramatically affect sporting performance. Polarised lenses reduce glare by filtering out the horizontal light reflected off large, flat surfaces. They also offer high levels of protection from damaging UV light rays. Sporting activities involving multiple changes from light to dark, such as trail riding in woodland or hiking, can be enhanced by photochromic lenses that automatically adapt to changing light levels.

Repairing sports glasses

The nature of sporting activities means that repairs are often required, as glasses can get rough treatment. Regular use in demanding conditions means parts often get dirty and loose, lenses get scratched, and frames get bent or twisted. No matter how badly worn or damaged, AlphaOmega can repair almost any frame and get it to look like new. The company specialises in frames from top manufacturers such as Oakley and Ray-Ban. It is one of the few glasses repair companies in the UK that can offer genuine branded replacement parts from the leading eyewear manufacturers.

More on specialist glasses

A buyer's guide to lenses
Oakley in the sports arena
Materials in glasses manufacture
How long lens coatings last

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