Protect Your Eyes On or Off the Water

News & Tips: Protect Your Eyes On or Off the Water

We take our eyesight for granted, especially when we're young. But it's then that we should really be protecting them seriously. And now, as we enter that time of the year, when we are all outdoors more, it's not too early to consider the best eye protection for you.

Oakley Fuel Cell OO9096 Polarized Sunglasses
Oakley Fuel Cell OO9096 Polarized Sunglasses

Years ago sunglass wear was an accessory; nowadays, it is a necessity. With the depletion of ozone in the atmosphere, which normally would buffer and protect us from the ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun, we are now more exposed than ever before to potential skin cancer, eye cataracts (the clouding up of the lenses in your eyes), and cornea damage. And, even worse, macular degeneration. Carbon emissions, and other contributing factors from around the world, have certainly taken a toll on that protective ozone layer. Wearing a decent pair of sunglasses is your first line of defense against the sun's damaging rays.

There are many excellent manufacturers of sunglasses on the market. And over the years, I have had my preferences. But it also took me a long time to take sunglass protection seriously and to start paying attention to the features and benefits manufacturers offer. Style is probably the first attribute we look for in selecting a pair of sunglasses. Yes, we want to look good in them, and they must fit our own sense of style. That might be the toughest part. But with a wide selection of manufacturers to choose from — Costa Del Mar, Oakley, Ray Ban, Under Armour, Maui Jim and Foster Grant — just to mention a few, the rest is purposeful and common-sense.

Before you put down the cash, ask yourself, first, what are you going to use them for? I have found a single pair of sunglasses with interchangeable lenses works best for me, which satisfies 90 percent of my needs. Beyond that the first two features that I look at are solid UV protection and polarization technologies. Some processes are more sophisticated than others and a bit more expensive. So you must do your research. As for me, for example, on the water, the darker is better. But when I am shooting clays on the range, I look more for, and need, contrast, not necessarily polarization.

Not in any particular order, here's a review of some of the manufacturers that I have used over the years.

One in particular manufacturer and feature, which I like on the water, is Wiley X's patented Facial Cavity Seal. Early in the spring when fine dust and pollen can really invade your eyes, Wiley X's soft foam removable facial cavity seals can block out irritants and close off the corners of your eyes to harmful UV sunlight.

Another feature, which is different from manufacturer to manufacturer, is Wiley X's Filter 8 Polarized Lenses that combines a hydrophobic coating, polycarbonate lens for strength, a scratch resistant feature, an anti-Violet 4 anti-reflective coating and, finally, their patented polarized film layer that creates 100 percent polarization with 100 percent UV protection. Consider the WX Valor with three interchangeable lenses. I like the 3-lens model because it gives me the option to go from their Clear lens, to Smoke, or to their Light Rust. The Guard model, also with interchangeable lenses, is another model to consider.

Change your focus now to Costa Del Mar. Their high-end styles not only look and feel great, but nearly all of the models are built with 100 percent UV light blocking technology and 100 percent polarization to eliminate glare and reduce eye strain. They are beautifully designed, technologically advanced and structurally built to last.

Another choice is Oakley Sunglasses, especially if you're a bold and aggressive adventurer. First, their Switchlock Technology brings the feature of interchangeable lenses to a new level of application. They recognize field and weather conditions can change rather quickly, so as rugged and as fortified as this brand is, their quick-release lenses gives you a spontaneity to adjust to different conditions. Also, their High Definition Optics (HDO), including other patents that add clarity and filtering capabilities, simply enhance your outdoor experience while maximizing your protection.

Don't stop with my reviews. There is simply not enough space to cover all the great companies out there and their personalized and patented features, but let this be a start. Also, most manufacturers will offer you a prescription option, too, for individuals that have special eye-vision needs. Eye care protection for the outdoors is a must for longer lasting, healthier eyes. Start your research now before you are on the water or in the field this spring.