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Tips for Picking Prescription Sunglasses

The other half of the sunglass world is prescription sunglasses. For a long time, if you wore regular eyeglasses, sunglasses were mainly clipped on. While they did the job, they weren’t stylish nor were they as effective as non-prescription (plano) sunglasses. The days of clip-ons as the only option are very much over.

Frames for Prescription Sunglasses

Almost every frame can be made into a pair of prescription sunglasses. The two exceptions are cheap “drugstore” sunglasses – these are called non-rxable – and sunglasses with excessive wrap. The sunglasses with excessive wrap distort vision on the corners.

Lenses for Prescription Sunglasses

People needing bifocals, progressives or anyone with a vision issue can find a pair of prescription sunglasses. They can be made in high-index, polycarbonate, plastic, trivex and glass. Glass is rarely used due to its propensity to break.

Tints and Colors for Prescription Sunglasses

The best color to tint your sunglasses is brown. While that may not be as fashionable as blue or yellow, brown does the best job of keeping light out. It’s especially good for sports where distances need to be judged and in low light. Grey is another good color as it will mask bright lights better than the others.

The worst color, and the one strictly for fashion sake, is blue. Blue creates glare. Blue can be flashed over a brown tint so that the outside world – and that’s all we care about – sees the blue but you get the value of the brown.

Please note: Polycarbonate lenses don’t take to tints and it is best to use trivex if durability is needed in your sunglasses.

Tint Density

Sunglass lenses are tinted in a bath of tint solution. The longer it sits in the bath the more tint it absorbs. There are three tint densities to be concerned with: 20-percent, 50-percent and 80-percent. Lenses with 20-percent tint density are considered for fashion only, those with 50-percent density are mainstream and can be used for most activities and 80-percent density tint provides maximum protection against the sun.

Specialty Tints for Prescription Sunglasses

There are a number of specialty tints that a person can have added to their prescription sunglasses.

Gradient Tints – This is a tint that starts at the top but slowly fades as it works to the bottom.

Mirror Coating – Mirror coatings reflect the amount of glare during bright light and some –pure mirror – don’t allow anyone to see the eyes of the wearer. The wearer, by the way, isn’t inhibited by the mirror coating.

Photochromic – Also known as transitions, these lenses darken when they are exposed to sunlight. The issue here is that these lenses take their time getting dark and when not exposed – are you wearing a hat – won’t get very dark at all.

Polarized Lenses – Polarized lenses do a great job blocking glare by restricting vertical light. This helps in limiting eye-strain and can be very helpful to people working in and around water. They are available in many colors and densities.

Anti-Reflective Lenses – This coating goes on the inside of the prescription sunglasses and blocks glare and light coming from the side or behind the wearer.

Prescription Sunglasses - Alternatives

We’re talking clip-ons. They are still around and have a few benefits, one being cost, the other the convenience of changing on the fly. The problem is they aren’t great sunglasses. They let in a lot of light. The whole point of sunglasses is to avoid the sun, not to invite it in.


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