Most of us wear sunglasses for one of two reasons: as a fashion accessory that includes that certain look or to help us see better in bright sunlight.Many sportsmen, including golfers, recognize the significant contribution that polarized optics can provide to eye care and performance enhancement. Sunglass choices are seemingly endless and can range from polarized goggles to colorful eye-catching tints on optical lens.
Frequently Asked Questions You May Be Interested…
1. Prevent damage to my eyes2. Are expensive sunglasses better quality3. What exactly are UV rays?4. How about impact-resistant lenses5. Sunglass lenses to choose
For a moment let’s consider airplane pilots and how sunglasses for them are much more than a mere fashion statement. Sunglasses are essential to safeguard a pilot’s most important sense – their vision. A quality pair of sunglasses is standard equipment in every cockpit to optimize visual performance. They help reduce the harmful effects of sunlight glare, decrease eye fatigue, and go a long way in protecting the eye from exposure to UV radiation. Additionally, sunglasses protect the pilot’s eyes from the potential mpact with objects such as flying debris that can result from sudden decompression or a daring aerobatic maneuver.
There are many choices of tints for sunglasses but the three most common colors are gray, gray-green, and brown. All of which are excellent choices for the aviator. Gray is recommended the most frequently as it tends to distort the color of viewed objects the least. But many pilots prefer gray-green and brown tints as they have been shown to enhance vividness and minimize scattered blue and violet light. This enhances the contrast in certain hazy conditions.
Important considerations for a pilot are sunglasses that screen out only 70-85% of visible light and not appreciably distort color. Any lenses that block out more than 85% of visible light are not recommended for pilots due to the possibility of reduced visual acuity which in turn could result in difficulty seeing the flight instruments and other data inside the cockpit in certain low light conditions.
While polarized lenses are very popular, they are not recommended for use by pilots. Polarized optics are useful for blocking reflected light from horizontal surfaces such as water or snow. However, polarization can also reduce the visibility of flight instruments that already incorporate anti-glare filters.
Polarized sunglasses may also interfere with visibility through an aircraft windscreen by emphasizing the imperfections in the laminated glass thereby masking the light reflected off of other aircrafts. In no instances is it acceptable for a pilot to reduce the ability see other aircraft.
Photo sensitive lenses automatically darken when exposed to ultraviolet light and become lighter when the conditions change to dim light. The darkening takes place almost instantaneously, while the lightening may take several minutes. While most photo sensitive lenses can get as dark as regular sunglasses, direct sunlight or temperatures above 70° Fahrenheit can seriously limit their ability to fully darken. Reduced ultraviolet light exposure in a cockpit can further limit their effectiveness. As photo sensitive lenses may not be clear enough to be useful in low light conditions when flying in clouds or at night they are not recommended for pilots.
The selection of frames is more a matter of personal preference; however, bayonet style temples are the most popular because they are easy to put on or remove while wearing headsets or a helmet. Smaller lenses may not be practical because they allow too much visible light and ultraviolet radiation to pass around the edges of the lenses. Finally, use of a neck strap is recommended to prevent the sunglasses from being accidentally dislodged.
While sunglasses are synonymous with the look of an aviator, sunglasses are also one of the most important pieces of equipment needed to protect the pilot’s eyes from bright sunlight and solar radiation. Since sunglasses are such an important asset, careful consideration should be taken when selecting an appropriate pair to ensure many years of worry-free flying.