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Eyewear without Glare

Ideal for spotting fish in shallow water, polarized sunglasses also offer excellent eye protection.

By Gibbs Milliken

Your eyesight is one of the most important things to protect during outdoor activities. The sun’s harmful rays can cause serious damage and lead to the early development of cataracts and other degenerative eye conditions. Polarized sunglasses are among the best forms of protection because not only do they provide UV protection, but also they cut glare and reflections, allowing better vision on water, light-colored terrain and highways. Because most polarized lenses are made of polycarbonate plastic rather than glass, they provide a shatter-resistant barrier between your eyes and flying particles, jabbing branches and possible blowbacks while wing or target shooting.

Sunglasses with polarized lenses were first issued as flight glasses to the U.S. Air Corps aviators in 1936. A company called Ray-Ban made them antiglare using the technology invented by Edwin H. Land, founder of the Polaroid Corporation. These excellent quality Ray-Ban Sunglasses are still made today in several classic styles and lens colors. ($149.95, Polarized Aviator, green lenses, in metal frames, Luxottica Group, (800) 786-4527, <www.sunglasshut.com>)

More contemporary designs have wraparound lenses that protect the eyes from side lighting and reflections while they provide filtered peripheral vision. Perhaps the most versatile are the Bollé Vigilante polarized set with interchangeable lenses. They come in a case with both smoke and amber lenses. It is a simple matter to just snap in the different colors on the same frames. The amber lenses are great for fishing the coastal flats and sight casting to reds that are easily identified as they light up like bright copper. For general use while driving and boating, the more neutral, smoke-colored lenses serve best for reflection control. ($130, Vigilante, #10047, Bollé, Bushnell Performance Optics, (800) 222-6553, <www.bolle.com>)

Another wraparound style is the Solar Shield Fit-Over Aviator type for eyeglass wearers. These have side window shields to reduce ambient light and glare for shaded viewing. Also available is the inexpensive Solar Shield Clip-On style that simply attaches to prescription glasses and can be flipped up above the eyes when not in use. ($52, Solar Shield Fit-Over, Amber Polarized; $7.47, Flip-up, Grey Polarized F07, Solar Shield, (800) 959-9038, <www.solarshield.com>)

Some polarized designs are intended for specific sports and have high-grade optical qualities, like the Zeiss SCOPZ Sports Glasses. Constructed with large field-of-view polycarbonate lenses, they are lightweight for extended wear. The comfortable frames wrap over the ears and adjust in size and bridge position for a good fit. Each pair comes in a Cordura case with belt loop. ($99.99, SCOPZ Glasses, #3004, Color: Gray, Carl Zeiss, (800) 338-2984, <www.zeiss.com>)

Many individuals prefer prescription sunglasses. These are expensive, but very functional, and are custom made to fit numerous frame styles. For security during outdoors activities, an adjustable lanyard attached to the earpieces can prevent accidental loss. Like other items of personal preference, sunglasses have become a fashion accessory as well as an essential for prolonged healthy vision and safety in the field.

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