Screw from SPY is made of grilamid, a lightweight plastic that’s flexible enough to conform to each wearer’s head.
Oakley’s Radarlock is made from O Matter, which is ‘extremely strong, like diamonds,’ according to the company.
TR-90 is hypo-allergenic, crack-resistant, and tough, even around salt water (Eyeking’s Hobie Boneyard shown here).
The new Arena Max sunglasses from Smith use durable nylon material.
Templeson Rudy Project’s Rydon Flex have a flex hinge to allow for a comfortable yet firm fit.

Sports frames are designed to be light and durable without slippage.

Whether your patients run marathons, play baseball, or catch deep-sea fish for a living, they need sunglasses that are extremely comfortable for long stretches of time, and that don’t budge even under extreme conditions. What follows is an overview of some of the highest-tech frames on the market.

At Rudy Project North America, performance glasses feature such materials as Carbonium™ and Kynetium™ because they’re simultaneously “super lightweight, rigid, and flexible,” says President Paul Craig.

These materials also allow for customization. Kynetium, he states, is hypoallergenic and firm enough to withstand a frequent change of lenses. That means an athlete can run in the morning with a clear lens, switch to a polarized option for driving, then use a red high-contrast lens for overcast weather later in the day.

The temples in the Rydon have a flex hinge to allow for a comfortable but firm fit, without “cutting off the blood supply and causing a headache.”

Temple tips are made from a copper-beryllium alloy, which can be bent to hook over the ear and then straightened out again. “This allows the wearer to ski downhill or ride a mountain bike over rocks knowing the glasses won’t fall off their face,” adds Craig. To personalize further, athletes can adjust the Rydon’s nosepads for a custom fit, moving the lenses either toward or away from the face so as never to have an obstructed view.

SPY, Inc.’s Screw sports glasses appear to have thick frames but, in fact, they don’t. The company makes the Screw and many other styles out of grilamid, a lightweight plastic that’s flexible enough to conform to each wearer’s head. SPY scoops out all of the frame that it can, leaving bevels and contours where another frame might be flat. “That way we give as much coverage as possible but still provide a lightweight feel,” asserts Product Director Juliette Koh.

The frames are so light that they don’t pinch the back of athletes’ heads, grip well so they don’t need to be pushed up, yet they feel weightless.

Fishing can be as extreme as it gets when it comes to sports-glass needs. “There’s lots of wind. The boat moves fast. The frames tend to bounce when you’re hitting the waves. You bend up and down while fishing. It’s a hot, sunny environment. You’re sweaty, you have sunscreen on your face that gets oily, and your glasses want to slip.” That’s the “worst case scenario,” says Renato Cappucitti, director of Rx sales for Costa. If the company’s frames can solve an angler’s problems, he adds, they can help any sports enthusiast or professional.

Many Costa frames are made from TR-90, a nylon-based grilamid material. “It’s the highest grade of nylon you can use for ophthalmic purposes,” Cappucitti notes. “We utilize it with different combinations of what we call Hydrolite™, a proprietary hypoallergenic rubber that prevents slippage. We co-inject that into parts of the frame such as the bridge or nose areas, even around the entire back of the frame that sits on the face. The frames are comfortable enough to wear for eight hours without feeling heavy. But they also have a barrier for the lenses and frame to cushions the lenses on your face while keeping the frame from slipping.”

When Nike’s ready to design a new sports frame, it gathers professional athletes and asks them exactly what they want. “Ultimately, all athletes want something lightweight,” states Steve Tripi, marketing director for Nike Vision at Marchon Eyewear, but the solution is different for each sport. Long-distance runners care about every ounce because “after running a marathon for almost three hours, even one extra gram of weight can add up to 60 lbs. over time.” Baseball players, by contrast, care more about stability, “When you’re diving to catch a ball, you want grip.”

Most Nike sports frames are made with TR-90 which is light and strong. Yet each sport requires a different approach to design to meet the needs of athlete, so Nike adjusts the materials and features accordingly. Features like a “custom adjustable” fit allows frames and temples to be adjusted for the face shape, size, and wearability. The temple tips are completely adjustable so they won’t budge, and they’re encased in rubber or silicone for extra grip.

In spring 2014, Nike launched a new running frame called Run X2. It’s lightweight but stable “without bouncing around your face” with adjustable ventilated nosepads of medical-grade silicone that hold up to sweat.

Weight, strength, fit, and comfort are all critical in a sports frame, explains Declan Lonergan. But if frames of the “lightest and strongest” materials aren’t designed well, if the size and shape don’t work for athletes’ heads, the rest is “all out the window,” says Oakley’s eyewear brand manager. “Our sports frames are primarily all nylon, but the design-the ergonomically shaped model-is just as important.” Oakley calls the nylon material on frames such as Radarlock’s “O Matter,” as “extremely strong, like diamonds,” yet “extra lightweight and more flexible than most other materials.”

Radarlock’s many components serve various purposes. A decorative white plate, for instance, is a harder plastic that gives the frame more rigidity, while a hole on the temple provides ventilation to cool the back of the head. A slimmer area at the back of the stem adds strength. A diamond-shaped groove on the inside of the back stem adds flexibility so the frame stays securely on the head without pinching.

When Smith Optics introduces its new Arena and Arena Max Interchangeable sunglass styles this fall, it will tout rimless frames designed for cycling, mountain biking, running, and triathlons.

Both styles come with three “full-shield” non-prescription lenses for easy interchangeability depending on light conditions. The frames use durable nylon material “for superior durability, flexibility, and comfort, perfect for sports,” notes Eyewear Category Manager Ben Flandro. “They’re also very impact resistant, which is important in case of a crash.” The temples and nosepads have a high-tack rubber that keep the glasses from sliding off the face and head.

Hobie Alter was a pioneer in watersports, and in fact invented the catamaran called the Hobie Cat. So it’s fitting that Eyeking’s Hobie Polarized line of frames is designed for water enthusiasts.

To that end, the frames are made of TR-90, a “battle-tested” nylon-polymer blend. It’s hypo-allergenic and crack-resistant -and tough, even around saltwater. “We work to make our frames lightweight and comfortable using materials that will function properly on the water,” states Marketing Manager Kristine Griffith. “The frames have co-molded rubber temples made with a dual-molded process that bonds the grilamid to the rubber using no glue or solvents, providing a superior fit.”

With a combination of lightweight materials and ergonomic design, sports frames in all of these brands help athletes by providing sun coverage without getting in the way-at all.

Rona Gindin writes about business and lifestyle trends from Orlando, FL.

Eyeking LLC
Marchon Eyewear
Oakley, Inc.
Rudy Project North America
Smith Optics
SPY, Inc.



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