Few brands and products in the outdoor gear and athletic supply industry carry more prestige and consumer recognition than Oakley Sunglasses. The incredibly array of discounted Oakley fakes, replicas and other cheap knockoffs are testament to an amazing American company that started out with nothing more than motocross grips.
While some might discount Oakley's incredible success as sales enhanced by pop culture, the truth is something far more tangible--beneath the brand are lightweight, technically innovative designs enhanced by optic precision and sizing versatility second to none. Wearing performance eyewear that doubles as cutting edge fashion has obvious benefits, but there are some things you should know before you buy:
Visual Light Transmission and Light Indexes
Oakley assigns their eyewear lenses two performance ratings: Visual Light Transmission (VLT) percentages and Light Index ratings. Light Index ratings are scored from 0 (clear lenses) to 4 (so dark that the eyewear is not recommended for driving). Most Oakley eyewear features Light Index scores of 3 for sunny conditions. When shopping for eyewear, use Light Index scores to narrow your selection according to your outdoor needs. Sunglasses rated with a 1 are excellent for cloudy days and eyewear with Light Index scores of 2 are ideal for partly cloudy conditions. Oakley's Half Jacket and Half Jacket XLJ sunglasses feature interchangeable lenses that allow you to match tints according to changing conditions.
Once you've determined a suitable Light Index you can evaluate your lens choices according to Visual Light Transmission (VLT) percentages. VLT is the amount of filtered lightwaves that penetrate a lens. Clear lenses have a VLT of roughly 93% and are excellent for indoor and evening use. Oakley's Black, Gold and Ice Iridium lenses found on bestselling eyewear like the Thump, Juliet, Romeo, M Frame, Half-Jacket and Half-Jacket XLJ tend to be the most popular choices, especially with polarized lenses. Oakley's darkest polarized Iridium lenses usually allow 9% to 13% VLT. These dark lenses are excellent for skiing, sailing and snowboarding in high glare conditions.
Oakley's Unique Polarization Approach
Unlike other polarized eyewear manufacturers, Oakley uses a special polarization treatment in the manufacturing process to minimize the frequent visual distortion and faulty resolution found in cheap sunglasses and discount bargains. Traditionally manufacturers use thin polarization sheets that are either glued or heat-pressed into the lenses during fabrication. Although the glue on the polarization film is transparent, it affects the clarity of resolution. Heat-pressed polarized sunglass lenses have distortion issues throughout the field of vision. Oakley eliminates these acuity issues by suspending the polarized filter in the lens when the lens material is still in liquid form. This innovative approach is one of the reasons that polarized Oakley sunglasses remain an award-winning favorite among pilots and professional anglers. In recent comparison tests, Oakley's polarized Square Wire models dominated Private Pilot Magazine's Sunglass Optics Shootout.
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