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Sunglasses: Does Color Matter?

Hints for Choosing Tints for Sunglasses

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Updated November 26, 2009

You can't judge a pair of sunglasses by its color, at least not for eye protection purposes. Tints and shades of sunglasses do not reflect UV (ultraviolet) blocking ability. When sunglasses are made, the lenses are treated with UV-absorbing chemicals to be able to block UV light. Because these chemicals are usually colorless, clear lenses could block light just as well as dark-colored lenses. So why so many lens colors?

Tints filter light in different ways, and some tints do a better job at blocking light than others. Some tints actually enhance colors, while others distort them. Tints have the ability to enhance vision in certain situations. Although you may admire a certain tint color, it may not be the best one for your particular lifestyle. Following is a handy tint guide for choosing sunglasses.

  • Gray: Gray is a popular neutral tint that allows the eyes to perceive colors in their purest form. Gray tints reduce brightness and glare. Choose gray for driving and outdoor sports such as golf, running or cycling.


  • Yellow/Orange: Yellow and orange tints increase contrast in hazy, foggy or low-light conditions. These tints tend to make objects appear sharper both indoors and outdoors, but can also cause color distortion. Choose yellow shades for snow activities and indoor ball sports.


  • Green: Green tints filter some blue light and reduce glare, while offering high contrast and visual sharpness. Shades of green also tend to reduce eyestrain in bright light. Choose green for precision sports such as tennis, baseball and golf.


  • Amber/Brown: Amber and brown tints reduce glare and block blue light, giving them the ability to brighten vision on cloudy days. By blocking blue light, these tints increase contrast and visual acuity, especially against green and blue backgrounds such as grass and sky. Choose amber and brown tints for fishing, baseball, golf, hunting, cycling, and water sports.


  • Rose/Red: Rosy tints increase contrast by blocking blue light. These tints have a reputation of being soothing to the eyes and more comfortable than others for longer wear-times. They also help with visibility while driving, and seem to be a favorite among computer users as they reduce glare and eyestrain.

Source:

Patients Pamphlet: Shopping Guide for Sunglasses, 243 N. Lindbergh Blvd. St. Louis, MO 63131. American Optometric Association (AOA).

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