Oakley’s Olympic Shades Help Athletes Perform

Oakley’s Olympic Shades Help Athletes Perform

A new set of specially-tinted shades are designed to filter light and create an artificial color spectrum optimized for sport

Anna Johansson
  • 15 august 2016

All over the country, sports professionals have donned Oakley-made sunglasses in training and for special events. Now, the California-based manufacturer is coming out with a new set of shades made specifically for Olympic performers.


The Prizm glasses called Green Fade offer a special filter that alters light transmission to show different perspectives on colors. Olympic golfers, for example, will see subtle undulations on the course while racers will see the whites of the track lines a little more clearly. It creates an artificial color spectrum that’s supposed to optimize sports performance.



Though it might sound a little strange that a pair of sunglasses can actually improve performance for the likes of Olympic athletes, there’s actually some science supporting the fact. “If sunglasses filter certain colors, then the eye’s response curves will be responding to the transmitted colors and not sensitive to the blocked colors,” said Steven Jacques, an optics researcher at Oregon Health & Science University. “In other words, the wavelengths observed are now ‘more defined. This could be an advantage if there were colors that were distracting.”

Imagine the possibilities for those playing sports outside when the sun is high in the sky: sunglasses with tinting abilities that clearly enhance whites against blues let volleyball players see the ball much quicker. Seeing the ball and gauging its distance as quickly as possible is essential to playing a great game.

It creates possibilities for players of all sports. Caroline Buchanan, a three time MTB and BMX World Champion, says wearing the glasses enables her to see each podium without distractions from the surrounding area, enabling her to reach the top without accident. It’s a huge advantage for the dangerous sport.

How is this light-altering lens possible? It’s all about understanding wavelengths and how the right tint can change everything. Wavelengths come in different lengths, and specific dyes used within the polycarbonate of the lenses can change the transparency and opacity of each wavelength. The tints play with the bending of light in order to make certain nuances stand out.

Then, each frame is hand-painted in green to match the Green Fade title. However, there are a variety of colors available to match the tastes and preferences of sports players.

The task of creating these Prizm lenses isn’t easy. The process of altering colors is an exact science, and Oakley has taken the harder route. “It is very easy to dull white, but not as easy to make white even brighter,” says Wayne Chumbley, Oakley’s vision performance lab manager. “The only way is by dulling the surrounding colors.”

This isn’t the first time that Oakley has produced sunglasses made for Olympic athletes. In 2014, just before the Winter Olympics, they produced a collection of ski and snowboard goggles with similar technology in their lenses. The goggles were such a hit that they decided to generate a more expansive line. Turning them into sunglasses makes them more accessible to all Olympic players.

They’re also not as expensive as you might think for technology that’s so difficult to engineer. Though some designer sunglasses with high-tech tinting cost upwards of $1,000, the Green Fade collection are in the $200 range, making them accessible to all sports players, not just those in the Olympics. Anyone looking to sharpen their vision and improve their game can benefit from the Prizm lens technology.


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