Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Eyes Have It
I am always amazed by the kiosks in malls, especially the ones that sell only sun glasses. The first time I saw one I wondered how anyone could make a living selling just selling those things. Then I saw the price tags and thought, what a scam (same with regular eye glasses...but I digress). More over, the buyers (and their egos) were all about style and how cool they looked in what has apparently become a fashion accessory. I would hope that paddlers would take a different approach.
First of all, the basic function of a pair (why is one a pair?) of sun glasses is to cut down on the brightness of sunshine from above and the reflection from the water. This alone is a comfort issue and alleviates a lot of squinting (which, as things go, doesn't burn a whole lot of calories). But those little lenses perched on the bridge of your nose have two other important functions. Knowing about them can make you a better consumer.
One of the main needs we, as paddlers, have is to cut down on the amount of UV radiation that hits the lenses of our eyes. Those nasty rays are what cause cataracts, a condition occurring at younger and younger ages due to the increase in out door activity (and perhaps the ozone thing). So, if the little tag doesn't say the glasses filter out UV light, take a pass. It won't matter how cool you look once you can't see yourself in the mirror.
You might also consider spending just a few bucks more and getting lenses officially labeled as being Polaroid. A polarizer is an optical filter that only allows through light in certain planes. Other light, scatter, is eliminated. These little gems will reduce or remove the glare from any non-metallic surface. It is the photographic filter that lets you see down through the water and, just maybe, spot that rock just below the surface before it tears your skeg off. On a camera, a polarizer (most effective 90 degrees to the sun) is what makes the sky dark and the clouds pop. It is the filter most commonly used by outdoor photographers (and you should have one too).
The glasses pictured above filter UV and Polarize light. They cost only $16...and I really look cool in them.
Paddle safe...


Michael said...

Excellent post, Silbs! My concern now is getting some sun-glasses that make a cloudy, rainy day into a warm sunny one!

Alex said...

Yeah my preference is for polycarbonate polarized lenses in brown as it tends to work better for me in lower light situations. I just need the assurance that the glasses wont shatter on impact if god forbid I take a hit on the face and the polarized lenses are real nice for running whitewater as it helps me avoid rocks. Of course I'm blind as bat and don't like contacts when kayaking so my many cheap pairs of sunglasses go to waste as I am forced to get prescription sunglasses which cost WAY too much.

bonnie said...

I always get the semi-cheap ones at the drugstore (semi-cheap, not ultracheap, because I do look for UV filtering) because I know that within a couple of months they are going to be gone - on the bottom of the river, or left in some cubbyhole on a sailboat somewhere.

I think the ultimate in weird specialty stores that you wouldn't think would be economically feasible would be this shop near my office in Soho. Rice to Riches.

They sell rice pudding.

Silbs said...

Alex, the best thing for me was cataract surgery. I developed the problem after years and years on sailboats. The Rx sun glass thing used to drive me nuts...on, off, on off,
Bonnies. Sounds like we shop in the fine tasteful price range. I would try the store you recommend, however, the air fare would sink me:)