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Q:

Who Makes the Best Sunglass Lenses?

OutsideOnline Spy Happy lens technology UV blue-wave rays seratonin happier smile lenses sunglasses neptune dark tort $139.95 happy actually make you mood affect levels eye fatique well-being

Spy Neptune Dark Tort, $139.95     Photo: spyoptic.com

A:The first time I put on a pair of Spy Discords with the Happy Lens technology, I was blown away by the sharp optical clarity and how well the shades protected my eyes.

But do these lenses actually make you happier, as the name would suggest? Sort of.

Before Happy Lens technology came along, the Spy lenses had blocked harmful UV rays, but they’d also blocked the blue-wave rays responsible for helping produce serotonin, says Senior Product Designer Keith Asher.

Now, serotonin is a chemical thought to contribute to feelings of well-being and happiness. So Spy decided to build a lens with a wavelength curve that would let in the maximum amount of blue light while still blocking all the bad stuff.

Standard lens (left) versus Spy Happy Lens.   Photo: spyoptic.com

The result? A lens that lets you see more clearly while minimizing eye fatigue. "Think of a lens as an invisible filter," Asher said. "What the Happy Lens does is filter out the bad rays and let in the good rays."

I cannot (obviously) say these lenses are the source of all my happiness. And I also cannot confirm any of the shades’ alleged psychological benefits. You’ll either have to take Spy’s word for it, or read up on the studies it cites about how blue light affects your mood.

Instead, what draws me to these lenses is how crisply they show subtle changes in terrain—making them amazing for flat-light skiing or evening mountain bike rides. (One of my friends tested a pair of Spy shades while backcountry skiing this April. His view was so sharp he refused to believe that the lenses weren't prescription.)

Bottom line: These lenses make me happier by preventing eye fatigue during a day spent outside in variable light conditions. Whether the blue light technology plays any role in my well-being isn’t for me to say.

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