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Design

There are two key elements to consider regarding sunglasses design, fashion and function. In the last few decades sunglasses have become a high fashion item, and the current design process reflects this status. Upscale clothing designers, fragrance marketers, and sporting goods vendors custom-design sunglasses to promote their own specific items .

By and large these design changes are not functional; they are intended to increase the fashion appeal of the glasses. Stylized frames, uniquely shaped lenses, and embossed logos are all part of this designer mystique. While some designs are considered "classic" and timeless, others must be continually updated to satisfy the public's constantly changing tastes. The children's sunglasses market is another area which requires frequent redesign, since the style of the glasses changes from season to season based on merchandising tie-ins with popular cartoon or other characters.

From a functional standpoint, sunglasses are designed specifically for a variety of outdoor activities. Sports enthusiasts have specific requirements that are reflected in sunglass design. For example, sunglasses designed for trap shooters are designed to provide maximum contrast to allow better viewing of their clay pigeon targets. On the other hand, sunglasses for skiers are designed to counter the light reflected of snow-covered surfaces

Lenses of the this types are known as blue blockers, because they filter out violet, blue, and some UV rays. Fisherman and boaters have their own special needs that must be addressed as well. Today there are custom-designed sunglasses for these activities and many more.

Sunglasses can protect the eyes in several ways. The glasses can either absorb or reflect certain frequencies of light, for both reduce the amount of light that enters the eyes. The absorbing types use various substances that are added to the lens material to selectively absorb light of specific frequencies. This range of frequencies can be controlled by changing the mixture of colorizing additives. The strength of the absorption is controlled by adjusting the amount of additive. Reflecting lenses have multi-layer antireflective coatings, consisting primarily of metallic particles. These metallic coatings reflect all colors of light and UV radiation equally well. There are reflective types with non-metallic coatings, which create a coloring effect.

By varying the type and amount of colorant additive or coating, a large variety of lenses can be produced. The color of the finished lens indicates which portion of the visible spectrum is being transmitted. For example, if the lenses are dark yellowish, they absorb violet, blue, and probably some UV rays.

A special type of absorbing lens filters out polarized light. Light actually consists of two waves, one propagated in the horizontal plane and one in the vertical plane. When light bounces off a flat surface, such as snow, roadways, or a shiny metallic objects, the horizontal component is seen as glare. Polarized lenses are made using a special optical filter which absorbs the horizontal component of light and transmits only the vertical component. As a result bright reflected light is eliminated and eye strain is reduced. However, polarized lenses do not block UV light, so they require additional coatings or coloring agents to provide complete eye protection.

Another type of lens, the photochromatic lens, contains silver salts like those used in photographic

These lenses darken out-doors and lighten indoors. In this way the lenses change color in response to UV exposure. However, the range of lenses' color change is not broad enough to be effective against most light frequencies, and although they are widely used, photochromatic lenses are not universally accepted by optometrists.


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