On walkabout in life and technology

Choosing Sunglasses

Two weeks ago I went kayaking on Long Island sound, and lost my sunglasses. Once again, my friends, it was time to research the next pair.

My criteria for sunglasses may differ from yours, they are:

  • Good lenses: I program for a living, and need my eyes to remain in top condition for as long as possible. Cheap lenses increase eye strain for me, which is bad for my work and mood. UVA and UVB protection is obviously a must. So is having a light weight. Modern polycarbonate lenses achieve this goal.
  • Low Glare: The greatest damage to my eyes after UV comes from glare, so I need good anti-glare protection while maintaining excellent clarity. For this, an anti-reflective coating and well done polarization really helps.
  • Good Color: My hobby is photography, which means I also want to see a wide and true color range through my sunglass lenses. I seek a lens color that blocks a color gamut range I know about (and choose), and does not block other color gamut ranges. Cheap lenses shift colors which annoys me. Neutral lens colors such as gray or green have been my preferred choice (but I tried brown for the last pair).
  • Wrap Around: Good glasses must not only protect my eyes from frontal light but also side light and reflections. I’m not looking for a full cycling wrap-around set, or side shields, but I do expect my sunglasses to curve around towards my temples to catch stray light.
  • Comfortable fit: I pretty much wear sunglasses whenever I am outside, which means that the fit needs to be exceptional. No side or nose pinching allowed, and the glasses must stay on as I lead my active lifestyle. And perch comfortably on top of my head when indoors.
  • Scratch and Moisture Resistant: I’m also not the most careful person out there, so having a pair of sunglasses that shake off dust, water and scratches is very valuable to me.
  • Looks Good: Honestly, this is probably the most important criteria for most people, but being the geek I am, it’s the last thing I look at. I do, however, have some self-respect, and so this is also a requirement.

Previously, I had always gone towards the Ray Ban classic green lenses, the ones made famous in their Wayfarer and Aviator ranges. I have always liked the protection and neutrality these lenses provide. In fact, my wife just replaced her sunglasses with modern Wayfarers, and they are most excellent. But they look horrible on me.

My most recent pair had brown Persol lenses, and they were very, very good. Especially when it came to water and snow glare. They were also my first polarized lenses and the polarization was not overdone. The frames fit well and the glasses still looked new after more than three years hard use. But I never got used to the warmness and color changes inherent in the brown lens. I had spent several hours at an optician to get them, trying on many pairs and testing them under sunlight and spotlight conditions.

In researching the next pair, I studiously ignored the major fashion brands of sunglasses as they usually choose style over function and the information on their lenses was often quite sparse. I also passed over several of the good sports brands like Oakley because they always fit too close to my eyes. When I blink, my eyelashes touch the glass. For the record, my spare sunglasses for snowboarding remain an oversized old pair of plastic framed Oakley’s that have a very neutral lens.

I probably would have gone with a pair of the green photo-polar lenses from Persol as my next pair because of my experience with their brown lenses and great frames.

Until one of my very good friends showed me his Revo sunglasses.

The lens clarity was surprisingly excellent (even through the fingerprint smudges), the glare reduction was the best I had seen, the frame fit (especially with the wider, spring loaded arms) was brilliant, and the wrap was perfect. The only thing I did not like about his pair was the cobalt lens tint. It shifted the color too much.

Turns out, Revo has a neutral lens in a graphite color. And a matching black titanium frame that looks great. So, after all that research, the best pair of sunglasses today, for me, based on my criteria, is the Revo Discern Titanium sunglass with the graphite lens, which I tested and purchased.

The clarity and quality of their polycarbonate is wonderful, and the neutral lens color means that I still have an excellent idea how photos will turn out. The frame wrap is just right, and the spring loaded arms hold the sunglasses perfectly in front of my eyes without my eyelashes touching the lens. And they look good. I’m still getting used to the new polarization (looking at the lens instead of through it), but I had to do that with my last pair as well.

The Revo’s are not cheap. Yet I think it was the fastest purchase ever made at Sunglass Hut on 57th street. I look forward to many years wearing these. And highly recommend them.