By Kelly Waterhouse
As the outdoor sports season is set to spring into action optical companies are creating protective sports eyewear lines that are practical, adaptable and comfortable for every sport in any region.
But as form and function are essential, so is the need to create fashion-forward looks that offer consumers and athletes a statement that transcends sport to compliment an active lifestyle.
“The trend we are seeing in sport eyewear is a hybrid look,” says Beverly Suliteanu, VP of Product Development for WestGroupe.
“Sport eyewear is transforming into eyewear that can perform without looking super aggressive.”
She highlights the advancement of frame materials, such as grilamid, that make frames super lightweight and strong, and the use of hytrel on nose pads and temple tips to ensure a secure fit. Protective materials like hydrophobic and anti-scratch on lenses ensure high performance adaptability.
The consumer drive for functionality and durability is something other companies are
spending a great deal of time and research developing.
Oakley has designed sport performance eyewear made from O Matter, a lightweight synthetic engineered material for comfort and shock absorption that offers durability
against environmental extremes.
“The material used for lenses is called Plutonite. It is a high grade polycarbonate plastic that offers great impact resistance and the best vision clarity,” explains Marie-Eve Guay, public relations and women’s marketing manager for Oakley noting the company’s premium eyewear passes the ANSI Z87.1 impact test.
“If either a baseball is being hit towards someone’s eyes, tree branches are whipping in the face while mountain biking at a high speed or even a golf ball is being hit towards
someone, Oakley lenses are proven to take huge impacts to protect the eyes without breaking or falling off the frame.”
Guay points to the Fast Jacket and Radarlock sunglasses, two sports performance lines built with the company’s latest “switchlock” technology featuring interchangeable lenses to suit different weather conditions.
Converse Eyewear mirrors the renowned brand architecture of the sporting goods giant Converse Inc., with a sports-inspired eyewear line, Star Chevron. Created for an active
lifestyle, the selections offer polarized lenses with rubberized nose pads and inner temple tips on the frames for adjustable comfort and safety.
Marketed at an affordable cost, the designs make sports protection eyewear available to a wide market.
“The benefits of our polarized lenses include improved visual comfort, improved contrast and visual clarity, reduced eyestrain and allows for true perfection of colours, reduces
reflections and eliminates glare,” says Lisa Christie, REM Eyewear’s communications manager, on behalf the Star Chevron line, noting each of the trendy frames are RX-ready.
“That is very rare in our category,” she adds.
ZEAL Optics has the distinction of being the only eyewear company in the world to make protective sunglasses from plant-based material.
The organization’s Lifestyle and Active Collection have become bestselling lines, blending active elements such as their Pro Flex Rubber to a casual fashion style.
“All of our lenses have an impact resistance exceeding ANSI standards to protect our customers’ eyes while still being able to mold the lens to the shapes that we love,” says Chelsea Lawson, public relations representative for ZEAL Optics. The company uses a thin scratch- and impact-resistant Polycarbonate lens.
“Our active lenses offer incredible clarity with an Abbe value of 38. We don’t cut corners and offer Z-resin, our plant-based material in every frame.”
Lawson says the appeal of ZEAL is their diversity.
“Whether you are hiking, biking, playing tennis or just running to catch a train ZEAL made the collections to be versatile for many different active lifestyles. We make sure that our lenses exceed ANSI standards for impact resistance so that athletes not only
have protection from the sun, but from an impact on their eyes as well,” she said. “Recently an ice climber told us that our Penny Lane sunglass saved her eyesight by
blocking some falling ice from shattering in her eyes. Those are the kinds of stories we like to hear.”
Transitions Optical is a brand renowned for adaptive eyewear utilizing advanced photochromic technology. The line of Transitions sunglasses enhance visual performance for specific outdoors activities, blocking 100 per cent of UVA and UVB rays for a visual
advantage in sports.
Working in partnership with major brands like Callaway, they have created styles such as Callaway NEOX Transitions that offer increased depth perception, improved distance vision and superior clarity optimized for golf.
“Eyecare providers have a fantastic opportunity to increase multiple pair sales by recommending Transitions adaptive sun lenses and sunglasses to their active eyewear
patients,” said Grady Lenski, director, adjacencies, Transitions Optical. “As those with active outdoor lifestyles know, the weather and light change quickly—sunglasses should too. Transitions adaptive sun wear products are designed with specific outdoor sports and activities in mind and will automatically adjust with changing light, are color
optimized and increase contrast, improve distance and depth perception and reduce distracting glare outdoors.”
The Autumn Gold Transitions SOLFX are recommended for hunters, archers, target and skeet
shooters. On the race track, Bell Transitions adaptive face shields pair Bell Helmets, a leading manufacturer of safety helmets for auto racing, motorcycling and bicycling, with
Transitions SOLFX to create adaptive face shields that are virtually clear in low light and at night and automatically become dark in bright sunlight.
For an active person, the Seiko Sportswear Transitions adaptive sun lenses improve colour recognition, contrast and depth perception in varying lighting conditions for a wide variety of outdoor sports including running, hiking and walking.
When athletes are ready to get their game face on, optical companies have a wide variety of protective sports eyewear options that are as varied as the sports themselves and as unique as the individuals who play them.
By Kelly Waterhouse