We tint out lenses by hand right here in our shop and can tint a lens up to approximately 20% VLT (visible light transmission). To get a lens with any further light blockage, we’d advise you add a mirror to a grey tinted lens, which can bring the VLT to approximately 15-10%.
The gradient lens is advantageous because as you look into the distance through the upper part of the lens it provides full light blockage, but as you look downward at your instrumentation through the middle and lower parts of the lens the reduced tint makes it easier to see within the cockpit. An Example:
Transition Extra Active
These lenses have been tested by pilots behind cockpit windshields and the feedback was that they work great in the cockpit. The aircraft windows do block quite a bit of UV light, which is why standard Transitions don’t work, but the Transition Extra Active will tint completely dark when the sun is right in your face and a bit less so when the sun is indirect.
Transition Extra Active w/Mirror
The mirror adds about 5-10% light blockage to a lens. The more popular mirrors we apply over the Transition lenses are Silver and Blue. The general opinion here in the shop is that this is the coolest lens in the world. Indoors or at night, the mirror is appears in a subtle shade, but as the lens transitions into a sunglass the mirror appears more strongly.
Things to keep in mind regarding flying glasses:
Polarized lenses interfere with the instrumentation displays on a lot of aircraft.
Bifocals and Progressives
Instrumentation is at different distances, bifocals are tuned for one focal distance, progressives can accommodate a greater focal range.
Pressure under headsets
When wearing headsets for long periods of time the pressure on the temples of your eyewear can become an distracting and painful presence. If this is an issue for you, we recommend the webbing of the Flying Eyes retention strap, or the thin temple pieces of the Randolph frames.
How We Make Them
Each prescription lens we make is crafted by hand, with attention and care, right here in our shop. The process uses various proprietary techniques and passes though multiple people and steps along its path to from the point of order to when it arrives at your door.
After we take the lens order from you, the next step is for us to get the lens materials from which we’ll grind your lenses. We source our lens materials from some of the best laboratories in the country, using different labs depending on the specific, unique requirements of each prescription, lens and frame combination. In order to determine these specs, Bret, the owner and Master Lenscrafter, sits down at his desk with paper and pen to apply the optical formulas and make the proper adjustments to ensure that curved, prescription lens of the sport frame will provide clear, distortion-free optics throughout the lens, including the periphery. This is the most important step in the process. (It is, naturally, double top-secret and this is only a mock-up of one of our lens patterns to suggest the measurements and diagrams Bret makes during this process.)
Next, the lens materials arrive in large-format blanks which we then custom grind into the final lens shapes you’ll ultimately see when the glasses are finished and in your hands. They arrive like this Polar Rose-Copper/Blue Flash Mirror sample :
And then we grind them. This is the loud part, and the part that sprays polycarbonate lens dust all over our shop and why people always think we came out of the snow. It’s also the part of the process that lets us craft fully-custom lenses with complete control over the lens styles, shapes, and optics. It is, also the fun part, and an aspect of our lenses of which we’re quite proud. We have a physical connection with our lenses and our product that other sunglass companies who craft prescription lenses simply don’t have. No one else in the world makes custom sport lenses this way.
While Bret or his son Ian, who is apprenticing here at Sports Optical, are the only ones who actually craft the lenses, the rest of us step up to clean, custom-tint and hand-polish the lenses once they’ve been cut. At this step we do a final inspection for quality, looking for any lens aberrations or any other issues that might otherwise make us hold onto an order and remake a lens. We do our best to ship a set of glasses only if it’s perfect.
Final Step: Some of the coolest prescription shades ever, that do exactly what you need them to do.
Custom Lens Pricing
Our lenses are fully-custom and handmade here in our shop. In addition to the frame costs, our lens pricing is:
Single-Vision lenses: $209
Lined-Bifocal lenses: $259
Progressive (no-line) bifocals: $359
These prices are for clear or tinted lenses, made of high-index polycarbonate, which come standard with UV Block and a Scratch-Resistant Coating. These prices do not include Transition/polarization, mirrors, Anti-Reflective coatings or any other additional lens treatment, all of which are available and can be discussed through email or by phone, at 303-455-3369.