- Rowing sunglasses are useful when we row. But what are the specifications for top quality rowing shades?
My doubles partner has recently lost his sunglasses. With the loss, he suddenly realised how important they are for his rowing. He asked me whether I could recommend some rowing sunglasses for him. We talked about the two major brands Oakley and Uvex and their respective technologies.
What makes a good pair of rowing sunglasses?
Rowperfect researched the supply of watersport sunglasses and found that there are 8 essential features which make them different from other designs. Scroll down to read the full list.
Rowers spend long periods of time outdoors. So it is essential that we use sunglasses to protect our eyes from strong reflections off the water. Having the right eye wear is an important part of a rower’s basic equipment.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, proper sunglasses should protect your eyes from sun-related damage, and they should always be worn when you are outdoors. Ultraviolet radiation (UVA and UVB) is highest In spring and summer. When you are at the beach, on the river or lake you should be wearing glasses. [Note to Antipodeans – your ozone layer is thinner than in the northern hemisphere and so this is doubly important.]
8 requirements for rowing sunglasses
Sunglasses for rowers are very different from day to day sunglasses. We are on the water and therefore get sun beamed at us both from above and also reflection up from the water’s surface. Here are eight “must haves” for the best rowing sunglasses.
- UVA/UVB/UVC Protection: UV-absorbing filters built directly into the raw material of the lenses protect your retina 100% from damaging UV rays up to 400 nm. So you should check that your lenses give complete UVA, UVB and UVC protection.
- Polavision technology: Reliable protection against reflection and glare from the water comes from using polarising filters. Lenses should absorb diffuse light to reliably protect your eyes from strain.
- Glare and flare: Reliable protection against reflection and solar glare. The lenses should absorb diffuse light. If you row with normal sunglasses you will have noticed that trying to read your strokecoach or a rowing app is distorted. You NEED this feature.
- Fogging and hydrophilic film: If you row in humid climates, you can get terrible fogging on the lenses. For rowers, this isn’t just annoying, it can be downright dangerous. Quality eyewear controls the airflow over the lenses using an adjustable nose mount and thus controls fogging. Also check if your rowing sunglasses have a hydrophilic film on the lenses. When water splashes on your lens it will run off the surface.
- Curve 8-10: We need 180 degree protection as we look around when steering, turning or rowing on different legs on your lake. A curved eye lens covers the gaps around your peripheral vision. The best designs protect even the sharpest viewing angle from your eyes. A highly curved lens has a full centimetre (Curve 10) of curvature. So, the eyewear conforms as closely as possible to your head’s natural shape and sits snugly close at the sides of your face.
- Scratch resistant: A special coating protects the lenses from scratch damage, in accordance with standard EN ISO 12312-1. You need scratch resistant glasses without impairing optical clarity.
- Break resistant: Most eyewear is tested to standard EN ISO 12312-1:2013. This includes a demanding impact test, in which a 6 mm steel ballbearing weighing 0.86g is fired at the lens at a speed of 45 m/s (162 km/hr). Obviously robust construction makes your specs last longer.
- Comfort fit: Imagine doing a racing start or a power 20 and your rowing sunglasses start sliding down your nose. Just don’t. Most sunglasses have a unisex fit and are well designed for both mens and womens head sizes.
Is there one sunglass design that will suit all my needs?
Do I need to spend over £150 to get something suitable for rowing?
Probably not. But you should invest to get good rowing sun protection. Rowing sunglasses which include most of the top 8 features cost around £80-120. This is a worthwhile investment.
And what about the advice I gave to my friend? What did he decide? Since he wears UVEX glasses while skiing – he has now bought UVEX rowing sunglasses too.