By Denis Langlois
Leon Rosenbaum says his specially designed sports glasses allow him to stay ahead of the game. The recrea- tional hockey player from Georgian Bluffs wears a pair of prescription lenses behind his visor. They allow him to better see the puck and fellow players. The lenses are made from polycarbonate, which resist damage and take impact well. The frames are built tough, while fitting snug to his face.
“I used to play without my glasses but have reached the age where that is now impossible,” he said. “At this advanced stage of life, I need them to play the game I love.” Eyewear specially designed to protect the eyes during sports while maximiz- ing performance is a market that’s growing significantly.
The eyewear industry has responded by expanding its offerings and options for such products.
Optometrist Dr. Michelle Lafleur said there are two main purposes for sports-specific eyewear — to protect the eyes from injury and enhance performance.
“Protection can be both against UV damage and against impact from fast moving objects such as tennis balls or even badminton birdies. Racquets and sticks also pose a threat to eyes as do fingers and elbows in contact sports.
Blunt force trauma can fracture the floor of the orbit, called a blowout fracture and may cause a detached retina,” she said.
“Wearing prescription lenses will obviously improve vision in a person
who requires correction, but there are also certain tints and coatings that can enhance vision even if no correction is needed.”
Yellow or amber tints, for example, improve contrast and filter blue light for sharper focus and are useful for hunters and racquet sports. Polarized lenses reduce glare for people playing water sports. Polycarbonate lenses absorb impact. Other things to consider are padding to increase comfort, wrap around designs to improve fit, bands to keep glasses snug and anti-fog and anti-scratch coatings for lenses.
Oakley Canada is among the leaders in developing sports eyewear.
The company’s high-definition optic lenses allow athletes to see clear, sharp and accurate images while protecting the eyes from high-mass and high-velocity impact. Their lenses offer both UV protection and glare resistance.
The company has also created Oakley True Digital sports specific lenses, optimized for golfing, cycling
“Our products and technologies don’t just provide unmatched performance and quality, they completely redefine the category. Part of the secret is Plutonite®, our durable and optically pure lens material,” said Oakley marketing manager Audree Duclos Pare.
The company has developed a Prizm Baseball Collection, with lens tech- nology that allows athletes to react faster and play better. Outfield lenses accentuate the blue of the sky to enhance the contrast of a fly ball, while infield lenses help players track ground balls by making the greens and reds richer so the ball stands out against grass and dirt.
“Prizm lenses are color-tuned for specific sports and environments to provide greater visual detail and sharper colour contrast. It’s a lens technology specifically engineered to correspond with different environments,” she said.
Shamir Canada sells both a sports lens and a uniquely designed golf lens. Shamir Attitude III Sport offers three vision zones — one for
close up (40 to 50 centimetres), another for a distance of one to five metres and a far zone for images well ahead.
Shamir Golf also has three zones — close up for filling out the score- card, mid-range for looking down at the ball and far for looking at the green in the distance.
“Both the Golf and Sports lenses are specifically designed for large, curved frames and the optics are optimized to ensure very minimal distortion in the peripheral field,” said Shamir marketing manager Martin Bell.
Zeal Optics also offers sunglasses and prescription goggles for sport. The compa- ny’s lenses are ultra-lightweight, clearly focused, durable and offer UV protection, which is key for outdoor sports.
“All of our lenses are designed to diffuse and protect against impacts of all kinds,” said Zeal marketing manager Mike Lewis.
Shatterproof polycarbonate lenses with 100 per cent UVA and UVB protection are a standard with all of Tifosi eyewear as well, said spokes- woman Erin Dahlquist. The company offers a Tifosi Optics GT lens for golf and tennis, which are designed to help athletes keep their eye on the ball. Tifosi’s Extreme Contrast lenses provide athletes with an edge in distinguishing terrain details.
Transitions Optical has teamed up with Dragon Alliance to offer a line of snow goggles with adaptive lens technology that, according to
the companies, “automatically changes tint in response to changing sunlight and weather conditions,” which eliminates the need to swap goggles while skiing or snowboarding.
“The Dragon Transitions goggle lens enhances contrast and increases depth perception, providing a clear visual advantage on the slopes. With a broad visible light transmission range, the lens automatically darkens to a dark gray in bright sunlight and lightens to a contrast enhancing yellow in cloudy or overcast weather.” The lenses also offer excellent peripheral vision, fog resistance, and total UV protection.