Wearing the right pair of glasses while out fly fishing is important for a number of reasons. Seeing properly at all distances, and beyond the glare of the water can not only help you spot fish as they move through the water, giving you an increased ability to cast your line with accuracy, but can also protect your eyes from damaging glare and sunlight that can cause a great deal of short term and long term damage to your eyes.
In order to understand how polarized sunglasses can help you see better and protect your vision, it is important to understand, briefly, how light behaves, and how it is blocked by polarized sunglasses. Normally, light is not polarized, meaning it spreads in all directions. However, when light hits a flat surface, it becomes polarized, meaning that it takes on a horizontal orientation, and becomes focused much more intensely in a single direction. This is what is known as “glare” and is several times brighter than normal light, and has the potential to do a great deal of damage to your sight over time. Water is one of the major sources of this harmful phenomenon, and specialty polarized sunglasses help to filter this out, reducing glare and protecting your vision.
But how do you know if your sunglasses are polarized? Most sunglasses that are polarized are labeled as such in the store, but you can also check for yourself. Dr. Carl Roth of Bridger Eyecare in Bozeman, Montana explains, “ To see if your glasses are polarized or not, look through the lens while looking at a flat bright surface, and then turn the lens 90 degrees. If you are able to see a difference in the amount of light coming through the lens as you turn it, then those lenses are polarized.”
You should also make sure that the sunglasses you purchase are not only polarized, but that they offer significant UV protection as well. This is especially important with sunglasses, since the tint of the sunglasses encourages your pupil to open wider to let in more light, and if your sunglasses don't protect against UV rays, an unusually high amount of UV enters your eyes, hitting your cornea and retina, potentially causing long term damage to your sight. Significant UV protection in sunglasses usually means around 90%-99% UV blocking.
The color of your sunglasses' tint is also important here. Good colors for fly fishing include Amber and Rose. These colors offer the best color contrast, allowing you to see below the surface and distinguish the fish moving under the water. A yellow tint is also good for evenings, cloudy days and early mornings, since it allows in more visible light and gives good contrast to low-light colors. Conversely, you should avoid gray tints, which offer no particular advantage in the way of color contrast, and mirror tints which are purely cosmetic, easily scratched and also offer no particular advantage in terms of color contrast.
You should also speak to Dr. Roth about the possibility of adding multifocals to your polarized lenses if you have presbyopia. Since fly fishing involves vision at all distances, and decisions sometimes need to be made in an instant, it is important that you have accurate vision at close, medium and distance, with maximum sharpness and minimum distortion.
All in all, if you're serious about fly fishing, proper glasses are a necessity, not an accessory. For more information, contact Dr. Carl Roth today!