I think that I can speak for anyone who has ever bought sunglasses when I say that it’s difficult deciding on just one pair of sunglasses. I like that frame with that color, but don’t like looking through that lens…even though it looks better with that frame color. The same could be said for a similar situation in reverse: I like that lens, but it doesn’t look good with that frame color. So, when it comes down to it, what does all of these different lens colors mean? Why is there not just a standard, happy medium lens that goes with everything? Why would someone choose to look different by wearing orange lenses when you can clearly see their eyes? I hope to answer some of these questions and shed some light (no pun intended) and clarify what the big deal is when choosing lens colors/tints.
- Gray: This color works the best when it is extremely bright outside. Whether it be snow blindness or if you live anywhere near the equator where there is an intense brightness almost every day, these dark lenses are the best choice.
- Amber/Copper: One of the most stressful times of driving is when it is raining or when it’s extremely cloudy. For one, with rain, visibility is impaired by the glare from other cars headlights. Also, depending on the downpour, you may not be able to see more than 10 feet in front of the hood of your car. These two lens colors brighten what you see and make darker objects more visible to the eye. This is the perfect lens for darker driving conditions, but it is not recommended for night driving in any way, shape, or form.
- Yellow: The yellow lens can also be referred to as a sunrise lens. It is a pure yellow lens, and is too bright to wear during sunny days. It can be used during rainy days, but is perfect for sunrise and sunset conditions. In other words: yellow lenses should only be used when there is minimal sunlight or no sunlight at all. Some people prefer these lenses for nighttime driving.
- Photochromic: Ever try driving when it’s cloudy, but the sun pops out every now and then just to blind you? Photochromic lenses are awesome driving lenses, because they adjust to the light conditions. If the sun pops out from behind a cloud and brightens everything, photochromic lenses are designed to change for any condition and give your eye comfort no matter the sunlight conditions. If it’s cloudy, the lenses are clear; If it’s sunny, the lenses become a darker shade and help fight off the brightness.
- Gray: Works best for offshore fishing. Gray is used for the brightest conditions possible, so it would make sense that when someone is fishing in the middle of the ocean and there is nothing but harsh glare being reflected back from the surface, the only thing that should be used is the darkest sunglasses possible.
- Amber/Copper: Excellent for sight fishing. Amber and Copper lenses pick up more color and distinguish elevations in the water more so than a gray lens. Fisherman can pick out the shadows of fish better with these brighter lenses. Also, amber tints work better if being used in bays where there is brackish water.
- Yellow: Just like with driving, these lenses should only be considered if you plan on fishing during early dusk or if you plan on switching to them as the sun is setting. In most cases, these are way too bright for midday.
Tip: When fishing, it is an absolute must to have polarized lenses to cut through the glare and see into the water better.
- Shooting: Most shooters use clear, yellow, or copper lenses. From left to right, they go from brightest to darkest. Yellow and copper lenses make the colors on the target the most vivid, whereas clear lenses are usually for people who don’t want to adjust color, but want to have ANSI approved eyewear without enhancing the colors.
- Golf/Tennis: Oakley (I’m most familiar with them) targeted golf specifically with their G30 lens and is supposed to help make the ball stand out against the greens of the fairway. Also, because these lenses are not polarized, they boast that there is very low depth perception issues. Basically, a lighter lens color such as a copper or amber will work the best for these sports because they pick up the colors better and will make the yellow tennis ball or white golf ball stand out.
- Flying: Pilots cannot wear polarized sunglasses, because their gauges and windshield are polarized. So, a gray non-polarized lens is optimal for flying.
Bonus: Mirrored Lenses:
This one is–for the most part–universal amongst all brands, with a few exceptions, because some brands (looking at you Oakley) had to be different. Remember, that a mirror on the outside of the lens does not mean it will be what you are going to be looking through on the inside. Sometimes it’s just for show.
Mirrored lenses are most useful during very intense sunlight or glare; They make the lens darker by reflecting sunlight away from the eye. I will go over the three most popular mirrored lenses.
- Blue Mirror: The wearer will be looking through a gray lens with these.Gray is the darkest lens available and should be used for the brightest conditions. Referred to by some as Offshore Blue Lenses for offshore fishing.
- Green Mirror: The wearer will be looking through an amber or copper lens with these and it will help in the same way for inshore fishing or to brighten up a gloomy day. Referred to by some as Inshore Green Lenses.
- Iridium/Silver: With the exception of Costa Del Mar (that I know of), silver mirrored lenses have a gray view looking through them (copper for Costa). Iridium is that silver reflective coating seen on Oakleys and has the same effect when looking through them in that it makes everything a darker gray.
Lens colors have a lot of significance for people using them for specialty purposes such as fishing or sports. If you plan on buying a pair of sunglasses, but only want them for the purpose of having sunglasses to wear with your outfit, then the best way to choose is to try them on and choose the lens color you like best. Sometimes, it is the preference of the person wearing the sunglasses when there isn’t a special reason for wearing them.