Monday, November 18, 2013

Oakley Lens Descriptions

If you ask anyone who knows me reasonably well what they see me wearing the most is, the answer would be the same for almost everyone: Oakley sunglasses. I'm almost always wearing a pair, not because they're "cool" or "hip," but because I have extremely sensitive eyes. That, and they offer an "Asian fit" line that has a definitive difference in fit that makes it ideal for Asians like myself.

I've run through about 5 pairs of Oakley, and by now, I've pretty much figured out what lenses I like, regardless of the conditions outside. In my opinion, Oakley is the industry leader in eye wear, and that's reflected in their multiple endorsements with professional athletes, from golfers to cyclist to hockey players and all other manners of athletes. One thing I struggled with initially, however, was finding the correct lens tint for me. I went simple for my first pair, with polarized black iridium, which is a black tint, what most of us imagine all sunglasses lenses looking like. Iridium is simply a coating on the lens that Oakley employs, I'm not sure as to its exact purpose.

Here are some basic descriptions of the lens tints that I've tried in my time wearing Oakley, as well as a screen shot of how they compare to the naked eye from Oakley's website:

1. Black Iridium Polarized
Light transmission: 9%
Intended conditions: Extremely bright light
Neutral or Contrast: Neutral

This is the first lens type I tried, and the non-polarized version is Oakley's most popular tint. Essentially what you think of when you think sunglasses. The extra polarization and low light transmission make it ideal for driving, where you can be blinded by the glare coming off a window or mirror. I also wear these for most days when I have contacts in, as they tend to make my eyes more sensitive to light.

2. Jade Iridium
Light transmission: 17%
Intended conditions: medium to bright light
Neutral or Contrast: Neutral

A green lens from the outside, jade iridium is favored by renowned cyclist Mark Cavendish because it emphasizes color perception across the color spectrum and makes differences in the road easier to see as a result.

3. Fire Iridium
Light transmission: 16%
Intended conditions: medium to bright light
Neutral or Contrast: Contrast

This lens tint is a favorite of a lot of baseball players that I know because it brings out the contrast between colors and white (and thus makes a small, white ball easier to see). I've been using it particularly for playing ultimate frisbee because the disc is usually white.

4. Positive Red Iridium Polarized
Light transmission: 18%
Intended conditions: N/A
Neutral or Contrast: Neutral

Probably my go-to lens before I lost the pair with this tint in the lake. It offers a nice tint that's pretty optimal for almost every situation, from sunrise to sunset without being too light during mid-day. A good all around lens tint and the polarization helps filter the glare coming off the road.

5. High Intensity Yellow and Persimmon
Light transmission: 81%/60%
Intended conditions: Flat to low light
Neutral or Contrast: Contrast

These are the lenses that came with some models that have a Switchlock technology, which allows the user to change lenses in seconds to adjust for light conditions. Both are contrast models that bring out differences in terrain in low light situations. I use these on gloomy days or when I'm indoors and need protection. Both good backup lenses, but I wouldn't recommend them for every day use. If you can afford them or they come with a pair of sunglasses, keep them, but don't shell out for them otherwise. It should also be noted that while the conditions of the other screen shots was around midday, these are from dawn/dusk. They're also good for shooting, if hitting the range is a favorite pastime.

Oakley, in my mind, represents the pinnacle of performance eyewear. If you're looking for a pair of sunglasses that will protect your vision from not only UV rays but also from flying debris, while looking stylish and "chic," I highly recommend visiting or

(All photos courtesy of Oakley. Switchlock is a trademark of Oakley, Inc.)

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