One of the most common questions we get asked is "What is the best aviator sunglasses lens tint?" Today you can find a lot of different lens tints ranging from gray to green to red to whatever???? It can be confusing, but if you want a great pair of aviator sunglasses with the best sunglasses lens tint for how you use the sunglasses, then it is important to understand which tint is, in fact, best for your purposes -- and why. But do not confuse lens tint with polarized versus non-polarized. The lens tint has nothing to do with polarization as any color lens can be polarized. In this post I will help you understand sunglasses lens tints.
The Best Aviator Sunglasses Lens TintsThe Dark Grey (or Neutral Grey) lenses provide true color reception allowing all colors to come through naturally without color distortion. These aviator lenses will provide hours of comfort for your eyes. This lens tint is the time tested choice for U.S. Military pilots and NASA Astrounauts. Randolph Engineering, Inc. has been providing these aviator sunglasses to the U.S. Military since 1982. The Kontraster (Tan) lens will work well in low light, haze, fog or snow conditions by increasing contrast by cutting off the transmittance of scattered blue light, thus having the effect of increasing contrast and visual acuity. For those who work in changing light or weather conditions adding a pair with these sunglasses lens tint is a good thing to do. The American Grey (AGX Grey-Green) aviator lenses have a slight green tint which selectively filters the color spectrum to make the eye's focusing system keyed to the green wavelengths of the color spectrum. By adding a slight green tint to thses lenses your vision stays sharp longer, eye fatigue is eliminated and contrast is improved. The green tint also seems to help those who are concerned about their fashionista look. Polarized versions of these lenses will elimate a little more glare by getting rid of some of the reflected glare off water or other flat surfaces.
For DrivingFor DRIVING, all of the general purpose lenses work well. When you drive the light changes all of the time from bright sunlight to low light under trees or buildings and even into dark as in a tunnel. For this reason many drivers prefer the Driver's Gradient Lenses found on Serengeti sunglasses. They are similar to the Kontraster B-15 but more to the Copper color as opposed to just tan. Polarized lenses eliminate some of the reflected glare off the highway, trees, water, the hood and windshield that normal sunglass lenses only reduce. If price is not important, the polarized lenses work well for driving. However, the non-polarized Dark Grey, G-15, Kontrasterâ„¢ and Driver's Gradient glass lenses do what a sunglass lens tint is supposed to do, they dim the light and protect you from UV rays. The disadvantage of polarized lenses is that they "black-out" LCD displays that are found on a lot of speedometers, cell phones, radios, etc. For general purpose use the Dark Grey, Kontraster B-15 and American Grey G-15 (slight green tint) all work very well. They all will have a visible light transmission (VLT) level of about 16-17% and are dark enough to handle most glare.
For FlyingFor FLYING the first choice of our customers are the Kontrasterâ„¢ B-15 (Tan) glass (VLT=17%) lenses. They not only reduce glare and block UV and IR light, but increase contrast. By filtering out more blue light it makes things look more vivid. Pilots like them because they reduce the effect of haze and smoke in the atmosphere to make it easier to spot other airplanes and to see ground check points easier. A great choice here are the Serengeti Large Aviator Sunglasses. A second choice would be the Dark Grey or G-15 (LT=16%) glass, they do what a sunglass is supposed to do; they dim the light and protect you from UV and IR rays. In addition they provide absolute true color reception, and they allow all colors to come through without any color distortion, resulting in hours of comfort. In this case a pair of Randolph Aviators with neutral gray lenses would be a great choice. Many times pilots will carry two pair of aviator sunglasses with them, one pair with brown or tan lenses and the other pair with neutral gray lenses. A note to pilots about polarized lenses. They should not be worn while flying. In fact, you can't even see through the windshield on most jets while wearing them because the windshields are laminated and cause severe color distortion. On the lighter airplanes you could wear them, but because the axis of the sunglasses are oriented at 90 degrees, as you bank the aircraft it causes the â€œworld to changeâ€, and reflections off of bodies of water will come and go. Also, since they reduce the effects of reflected glare, it makes seeing other air traffic more difficult. Also, polarized lenses make LCD displays (such as used on GPS units, radios and some gages), "black out", if you tile you head at about 90 degrees you can see them again.
U.S. Department of DefenseOver the years the U.S. Department of Defense (U.S. DoD) has conducted research into what are the very best aviator sunglasses for military pilots. After all the US DOD purchases a lot of sunglasses, so one would assume the best sunglasses lens tint would be one of the considerations. As it turns out they specify the Dark Grey (Neutral Grey) sunglasses lens tint for US military pilots and NASA astronauts which meet the Mil-Spec 25948J military specifications for aviator sunglasses. In fact they purchase most of these sunglasses from a small U.S. company in Massachusetts called Randolph Engineering.
Federal Aviation AdministrationThe Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulates U.S. pilots who fly aircraft and issues a number of Pilot Safety Brochures one of which is titled "Sunglasses for Pilots: Beyond the Image". In this document the FAA makes the following statement regarding sunglass lens tints:
TINTS. The choice of tints for sunglasses is practically infinite. The three most common tints are gray, gray-green, and brown, any of which would be an excellent choice for the aviator. Gray (neutral density filter) is recommended because it distorts color the least. Some pilots, however, report that gray-green and brown tints enhance vividness and minimize scattered (blue and violet) light, thus enhancing contrast in hazy conditions. Yellow, amber, and orange (i.e., â€œBlue Blockersâ€) tints eliminate short-wavelength light from reaching the wearerâ€™s eyes and reportedly sharpen vision, although no scientific studies support this claim.3 In addition, these tints are known to distort colors, making it difficult to distinguish the color of navigation lights, signals, or color-coded maps and instrument displays. For flying, sunglass lenses should screen out only 70 - 85% of visible light and not appreciably distort color. Tints that block more than 85% of visible light are not recommended for flying due to the possibility of reduced visual acuity, resulting in difficulty seeing instruments and written material inside the cockpit.In other words, both the U.S. DoD and the FAA recommend the Dark Grey (Neutral Grey) tinted sunglasses lenses flying airplanes. This would lead us to conclude that the Dark Grey (Neutral Grey) aviator sunglass lens tint is best for everyday wear while tan lens sunglasses work best in low light or haze conditions.