Vail Today at SIA: Oakley tints lenses for specific sports (video) |

Vail Today at SIA: Oakley tints lenses for specific sports (video)

By Tricia Swenson | Vail Today

Editor's note: This is part seven of a seven-part series on new gear and ideas featured at the Snowsports Industries America (SIA) Snow Show held in Denver in January. SIA is a nonprofit, member-owned trade association representing suppliers of consumer snowsports with constituents in the retailer, rep and resort communities.

For decades, Oakley has been spending a lot of time and money investing in research and design to create performance-enhancing eyewear for a variety of sports. They shared some of the technology behind their findings at the recent Snowsports Industries America (SIA) Snow Show in Denver.

Eyewear used to be a generic accessory. Conventional lenses were all about blocking the sun, making you see less. Now, what you wear on your eyes is a vital piece of the equipment equation. Oakley lenses help you see more detail, more depth and more definition.

At their booth at SIA, Oakley featured its Prizm technology, something they have been working on for the past 15 years. By using a spectrometer, they were able to place various lenses in front of the light source and show the amount of light coming through on a large, flat screen, showcasing a rainbow of colors.

"We have our own recipe for each Prizm lens. We can absorb light with the different dyes we use. We want to absorb the good light you need and reflect out the bad," said A.J. Sherer, a representative for Oakley.

As he placed the Prizm Deep Water lens up to the spectrometer, Sherer pointed out that "blues are prominent when fishing and can be overwhelming. So we cut them out and accentuate other colors so you can see a little deeper in the water."

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Oranges, reds and browns appear much richer with their Prizm Trail lens.

"You can even see subtle nuances in the dirt that you wouldn't normally see with just a dark lens," Sherer said.

These lenses not only enhance performance, but also offer protection from dangerous ultraviolet rays. You generally don't feel UV rays, so there is no natural warning that damage is being done, and it can build up over time. Even on overcast days, clouds don't block UV completely, which means you still need to protect your eyes.