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How Dark Can You Make It?

We fielded a question from a customer today asking, “How dark can you make a lens? I want the darkest lens you can make.” Typically we’d take a polarized grey lens, do a dark grey after-tint, and then we’d apply a solid mirror on top of it, usually in silver. This leads to our darkest possible lens, which is approx. 95% blockage. The caveat in this case is that he obviously needs a non-polarized lens, which makes it more difficult to achieve a dark lens.

The darkest lens we can do, in this case, is either:

A) apply a saturated grey tint, which we do by hand right here in-house, and then put the solid silver mirror on it. This would give about a 75-85% blockage.

or B) Take a Transition Extra Active lens and put the same silver mirror on it. In its clear state, the lens will still be fully-functional and will look mostly clear. As the lens Transitions, and keep in mind the Extra Active lens is the darker Transition option so it gets quite dark, the mirror comes into full-effect and appears silver. It’s a pretty cool effect, and in the dark state it will reach something between 80-90%.

C) Is more of a consideration, rather than an actual lens option, but it’s worth noting that the physical blockage provided by a frame makes a different with light blockage. If you’re looking for a dark optical experience, a curved frame that really hugs your face and doesn’t let a lot of light in behind the lenses will seem much darker to you than a flatter frame that allows peripheral light to easily enter your eye area.

My final point would be D) that a dark lens will help against the sun, but I’ve heard some pilots explain that it potentially makes it tricky to see the instrumentation in the cockpit, simply because it’s too dark.


Randolph Engineering Concorde, with bayonet temples and blue mirror.

Randolph Engineering Frames

We choose to sell Randolph Engineering frames because they are exceptionally well made. We need to give our customers a frame that is commensurate with the quality of our lenscrafting. RE offers precisely this. They are made in America and have a great optical legacy, but the real point, and the primary reason we work with them, is that the frames they make stay together, retain their shape (and their ability to hold our lenses) and are backed by confident, competent customer service. A secondary consideration is that the frames are classically and enduringly styled so that you buy them once and forever.


Welcome to Flying Rx

Thanks for visiting the Flying Rx blog. In this space we’ll try to deliver valuable, practical information about prescription eyewear. Some of it will be specifically related to aviation, such as issues with multi-focals and how to choose the right lens style when your instrumentation is at varying distances, or style, such as how to look like a cool, cool, guy (or gal) when wearing prescription sunglasses. Many of our customers are actual aviators who require very specific performance out of their glasses, but we also have a lot of customers who simply like the aviator glasses style and have us make them prescription sunglasses. In both cases, we’re proud of the glasses we make and we’ll try to post images of the various glasses we make here on our blog.

Thanks again for visiting. Comments are welcome. Fly safe. Look good.