If you spend a lot of time out on the water, you’ve experienced the intense Florida sun. And while it’s common practice to lather up with sunscreen before you go out on the boat, have you thought about how important it is to protect your eyes? It may be time to invest in some specialty sunglasses, so here are some points to consider.
The Importance of Polarization
Most sunglasses fall somewhere on the spectrum of performance and style. Depending on your boating activities you may need a certain kind of lens tint or frame shape (more on that below), but chances are you’re more concerned on protecting your eyes than working the runway. When you’re boating, especially in sunny places like Florida, polarized lenses are a must.
Without getting into the science of light waves, polarized lenses cut back the amount of total light coming into your eyes and also eliminate glare, which is a big majority of what bothers boaters’ eyes. This reduces glare bouncing off of the water or other shiny horizontal surfaces but won’t sacrifice the detail of what you’re seeing. Look for glasses that are coated to block 99-100% of the UVA and UVB rays.
Lens Color & Frame
“How do you not see that fish? You’re looking right at it!” If you’ve ever heard this, you’re probably not wearing the right kind of sunglasses! Bright neon, mirrored lenses are one of today’s biggest fashion trends, but anglers have been rocking the colored lenses out on the water longer than anyone—for good reason.
Lenses come in various colors and each color has a different purpose. Generally speaking, you should first look for lenses that fall between 15-30% on the visible light transmission scale and then select a lens color based on your needs. On the brightest boating day, you’ll want the lowest possible amount of light coming through the lens, which would mean a darker gray lens. A green lens is helpful for sight casting fish and a brown/amber lens will increase contrast. Ask your local marina or specialty boating store to help you narrow down the wide selection of lens colors.
Some boaters prefer a frame that wraps around the side of the face to help protect the eyes from saltwater. A thicker and wider temple (the sides of the sunglasses) can also help with this but if it’s imperative to not block your prereferral, you may prefer a smaller temple. Looking for a shatterproof lens is a smart idea especially if you drive a boat without a windshield. Nose pads and ear pieces can easily make sunglasses more or less comfortable, so if you find a pair you love but they’re too snug or too loose, see if the salesperson can adjust them for you. Also note the quality of the hinges on the glasses—saltwater can erode the hinges and screws overtime if they’re not properly taken care of.
Price & Brands
With sunglasses, you usually get what you pay for. A pair of polarized glass lenses with specialty coated designer frames is going to be pricier than a pair of basic glasses with plastic lenses. However, if you’re someone who tends to lose their glasses to the bottom of the ocean—oops—buy yourself a sunglass strap or stick to a less expensive pair. Here’s a list of brands that range from under $30 to over $300:
- Costa Del Mar
- Maui Jim
- Native Eyewear
- Strike King
- Fisherman Eyewear
- Salt Life
While any type of eye gear is better than no eye gear at all, investing in a pair of quality, protective sunglasses will not only enhance your boating or fishing experience, but also protect your eyes from the sun’s UV radiation. Check out our Boater’s Directory for local sunglass experts who can help you find your perfect pair.