Choosing Your Next Pair of Sunglasses

SunglassesFrom the mirrored lenses of Hollywood lore to the sleek wraparounds of today, sunglasses have become a staple of modern police gear. The correct lenses can provide a lifetime of protection. But choose the wrong type of lens and you will end up with nothing more than a poor fashion statement.

Unfortunately, choosing the right stuff often requires a little detective work. Hopefully, the information below can assist you in making the case for a new pair of shades.

Ultraviolet Protection
Just as ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause sunburn, they also pose a danger to your eyes and even your eyesight. While prolonged exposure has been linked to blindness, cataracts and cancer, even short term exposure to high intensity sunlight can result in numerous health issues. The most common of these, often referred to as snow blindness, is the result of sunlight reflecting off of surfaces and, although most commonly associated with snow, can also be caused by the glare on pavement, sand, water and even car hoods.
Most lenses offer some level of protection, but to ensure the best long term protection you should look for two key specifications. First, make sure your new lenses meet ANSI 280.3 (American National Standards Institute) requirements and also offer UV 400 (400 nanometers) protection. This combination should provide protection from 99-100% of UVA and UVB rays.

Lens Color
The world may look better through rose colored glasses, but they may not be the first choice for day to day wear. Aside from the strange looks you will get from your Sgt., rose colored lenses offer little protection from the sun’s glare and can interfere with your ability to distinguish some colors – including traffic signals. Instead, opt for lenses in the grey, brown or green range as these not only provide maximum protection from prolonged bright light, but they also offer less distortion. Orange or yellow hues will distort some colors, but they do offer increased contrast, especially in dawn or dusk conditions.

The ESS Crossbow ballistic sunglasses in action
The ESS Crossbow in action

Polarization
Polarized lenses have long been popular with sportsmen, especially anglers, because of the increased definition they offer due to reduced glare. This same feature can be equally beneficial when faced with the constant glare of sunlight off water, sand, pavement or even other vehicles. Keep in mind that the some electronic screens such as those found on laptops, smartphones and GPS displays can be difficult to read when wearing polarized lenses. You should test your devices before selecting this option.

Quality
The best lenses are those which have been ground and polished rather than stamped. Although cost is not an automatic gauge of quality, it is a simple fact that the majority of low cost models are stamped and subject to a lack of uniformity. While it is possible to find a pair of $9.99 bargain bin specials that are well functioning, it can be luck of the draw. Regardless of how much you are going to pay, the simplest quality test is to try them on first. Pay particular attention to whether or not you detect any distortion as you look from side to side or up and down. If the clarity is not the same throughout your range of vision, pick another pair.

Shatter Resistant
Although not a concern to the average beach goer, shatter-resistant lenses are a must for law enforcement. Many manufacturers offer models specifically designed to provide protection similar to that of safety glasses, even those able to withstand a shotgun pellet. At a minimum, you should select lenses AND frames designed to resist shattering on impact, thus reducing the possibility of collateral damage during a scuffle, vehicle accident, or when struck by flying debris.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell
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