The market for performance eyewear has exploded in the last 10 years, particularly in cycling and triathlon, in which athletes of all abilities have recognised the advantages that can be derived from wearing sunglasses.
However, when it comes to running, performance eyewear tends to be limited to the upper echelons of ability. This may come down to a variety of reasons. People might be put off by cost – yet there are some great sunglasses available at the £40- £50 price range.
Then there’s the look: many people perceive sports sunglasses to be wholly cosmetic. But they’re missing the point. While producers try to make their products as aesthetically pleasing as possible, this isn’t their main goal. More time, money and effort goes into lens technology and the performance and efficacy of eyewear than how it seems, which is great news for those who wear them, because they’re getting real value for money.
The most basic levels of protection are from UVA, UVB and UVC rays. This protection is crucial because the eye – like our skin – can be severely damaged by these rays. As the cornea is one of the most sensitive areas on the body, it’s as likely as the skin to be damaged. Admittedly, this level of protection is something most off-the-rack sunglasses will also protect against, though many don’t counteract the effects of ‘blue light’ – a newly identified condition, detrimental to the eye.
Moreover, performance eyewear can provide protection from the weather, flying particles and vision distortion thanks to their lenses, which should wrap around the face, be made from high-grade, impact-resistant materials and utilise appropriate lens technology for various conditions. This level of protection may seem basic, but the average set of sunglasses isn’t designed for variable conditions.