Oakley Prizms - a quick look

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Oakley Prizm Trail lens poster
Oakley Prizm Shallow Water Lens

Oakley Prizm lenses caused quite a stir in the sports world when they were first launched. Already well known for its sports sunglasses Oakley claimed to break new ground with its revolutionary Prizm lens technology.

What are Oakley Prizm Lenses?

Prizm lenses arrived after 15 years of research by Oakley specialists into building greater contrast into sunglasses. The technology emphasises the colours to which the human eye is most receptive, raising contrast levels at particular light wavelengths and thus giving better depth perception.

The technology lends itself to enhancing vision in different sporting environments. Golfers, for example, see a lot of green as they wander about the fairways, motocross riders see plenty of dirt browns and snowboarders are sure to come across lots of white snow.

Prizm lenses enhance light transmission at wavelengths that feature strongly in different sporting scenarios. Golfers can more quickly judge the rolls and bumps when putting on greens; motocross riders can identify dirt textures more readily, and snowboarders can spot details of snow cover that they would not normally be able to see.

As they took off among athletes and sports enthusiasts, Oakley quickly extended the range to cover many other sports such as cycling, angling and shooting. Users claim improved performance

How do Oakley Prizm Lenses work?

It has long been understood by scientists that the human eye is more 'receptive' to light of certain wavelengths. We can, for example, distinguish far many more shades of green than of red, thought to be an evolutionary adaptation.
Also, standard light tends to look 'noisy' to the human eye under certain conditions. There are colours to which the human eye is more sensitive while other colours can reduce contrast and 'wash out' our vision.
The specially engineered Prizm lens is designed to filter out 'noisy' light and to emphasise the colours to which the human eye is more sensitive. The result is improved clarity and contrast in the light that matters.
Similar 'hyperspectral imaging' techniques have been employed on satellite telescopes and other scientific instruments to better analyse images and improve precision.

Why use Oakley Prizm Lenses for sport?

Prizm lensing technology is ideal for fine tuning vision for particular sport-specific environments. Skiers, for example, will typically find themselves in a white environment while golfers are usually surrounded by green grass.

Specialists at Oakley have fine tuned their lenses to emphasise the colours that are most dominant in particular sporting locations and those wavelengths of light to which the human eye is most receptive. The result is far greater clarity, higher contrast and sharpness of vision.

The main advantages of Oakley Prism lenses for sports enthusiasts are sharper visual perception, enhanced colour recognition and better peripheral vision. It adds up to better performance, faster reaction times and stronger environmental awareness.

Prizm Golf lenses improve awareness of the changing texture and topography of putting greens and can help the golfer gauge distance with different grass conditions.

For anglers, Oakley created Prizm lenses that enhance perception in shallow and deep water by incorporating polarising filters. Their high definition polarised lens filters screen out 99% of reflected glare and reducing distortion. The shallow water lenses also boost the copper and green areas of the colour spectrum while maintaining bright whites. Deep Water lenses strengthen reds and greens while filtering out blues to get a clearer view of what is happening below the water surface.

Prizm Road lenses improve general contrast so that cyclists can see greater detail on road surfaces. Blues and greens are enhanced for a more pleasant ride while stronger colours are made more vibrant to improve the perception of hazards and road signs.

Prizm Trail lenses enhance the reds and browns mostly encountered while trail running, hiking or mountain biking and improve perception in fast changing lighting conditions found when running in and out of shadows.

Other activities that benefit from specific Prizm lenses are snow sports and field sports, even shooting, while the Prizm Daily is aimed at the everyday outdoor enthusiast.

Are Prizm Lenses worth the money?

There is not much doubt that Prizm lenses make a marked improvement in visual clarity, particularly with peripheral vision. There a key benefits for athletes in the filtering out of 'visual noise', improvement in depth perception and added contrast in colour wavelengths that matter.

If peak performance in your chosen sport is what you are after then Oakley Prizms will certainly help gain an advantage over the competition. As the company blurb puts it:

"Conventional sunglass lenses are like the volume knob on a stereo. It turns down all the wavelengths of sound together, with no fine tuning. A stereo equaliser lets you adjust sound precisely, increasing or decreasing the bass and treble in specific parts of the spectrum. That's what PRIZMā„¢ does with light, specifically tuning each part of the spectrum with specially engineered lens tints tailored for specific sports and environments."

The main benefits to daily casual users are higher contrast and enhanced colours, from deeper reds through brighter blues and more vibrant greens. Add polarisation to knock out 99% of glare and, if you can afford it, there is little not to recommend.