As a pilot I have flown in a lot of different weather conditions over the years.
Remember, a pilot's eyes are their most important asset, and this is why I am interested in lens tints.
This experience has taught me to always carry at least two pairs of sunglasses.
The reason: Lens Tint.
Why, you might ask.
Well, it is very important to see what is outside of the cockpit window. At least before all of the beautiful color displays in airplanes today!
There is a big difference between making an approach to an airport with the sun setting on the horizon, thunderstorms all around, fog and haze reducing visibility to next to nothing.
A great pair of sunglasses can really help in each of those conditions.
The same when driving your car.
What Is Lens Tint?
When you look at sunglasses you will see they come with lenses in all sorts of colors and designs.
They look pretty, but you might wonder if the color of the lens has any useful purpose?
Does the color of the lens have anything at all to do with the usefulness and value of a pair of sunglasses?
The short answer is: absolutely!
The Best Lens Tints
There are basically 3 common lens tints, each of which have a specific purpose.
Those tints are Gray, AGX and Tan.
Neutral Gray lenses provide 'true' color reception.
In other words, as you look through Neutral Gray lenses the objects you are viewing look exactly the same color as if you weren't wearing sunglasses at all.
This is usually the best choice for your first pair of sunglasses, and certainly is for pilots and anyone operating vehicles.
The better we can see clearly everything outside the windscreen, the better choices we can make.
AGX, Also Known As American Gray or G-15
Green lenses are often seen more as a fashion statement to make the wearer look "cool"!
But the truth is these lenses highlight the soothing green wavelengths of the light spectrum.
These lenses will reduce eye fatigue and improve visual performance, particularly in the woods or forest. This is because they enhance the green color.
But they can also be useful for pilots on long flights to help reduce eye stress and fatigue.
I live in the upper midwest, Michigan actually, and we have lots of different weather conditions throughout the year.
Rain, fog and haze are common occurences around here, and seeing things clearly in those environments is important.
How often have we seen multi-car pileups as a result of fog and snow?
I have been driving along and smack into a fog bank with little to no visibility!
The great thing about Tan lenses is they enhance contrast and depth perception providing a sharp, crisp view of our environment.
The "Two Pair" Rule
I have always had this "Two Pair" rule, and carry both a pair of neutral gray and tan sunglasses in my flight bag.
The neutral gray lenses are great during daylight and transition to night flights, and the tan lenses really help during those low visibility approaches in fog, haze and rain.
In other words, this rule has always served me well.
The Next Time
So, the next time you are looking for a pair of sunglasses be sure and consider what conditions you will be wearing them in.
Be sure to remember the "Two Pair" rule, and choose only high quality sunglasses.
In the meantime, keep your wings straight and level Hersch!