In the summertime, high-end sunglasses are a luxury, albeit a justifiable one for anyone who spends a lot of time outside. This month, I have been testing a pair of said lux glasses with a prescription lens from Costa Del Mar. The company, based in Daytona Beach, Fla., caters to fishermen, boaters, and dwellers of sun-drenched destinations around the globe. Here in Minnesota, my home state, we get a hall pass into the "solar club" each year around June when, surprising to most, temps can spike to 100 degrees F and the sun can glare.
On the face, my Costa Del Mar glasses, the company's Corbina frame with a polarized lens, have shaded, protected, and comforted my eyes on daily tasks and during moderate activity. The design of the Corbina frame shouts "chill out," and the blocky, SoCal-influenced look elicits a vibe to sit down, lean back and take in the view.
But cloaked under the fashionable face of these glasses is a bit of tech. The frames, which come in black, tortoise and silver, are lined with a rubbery compound on the nose arch and bows. They are rock solid for most all activities short of water skiing.
The real tech is in the glass. For the first time this year, the company offers its top-end polarized lens in an Rx version. The lens, called the 580, blocks yellow light at a specific part of the visual spectrum for clarity on the water and off. It cuts glare and reflections. The lens, in terrestrial use, sharpens visual contrast and makes things look coated in a perpetual sunset glow.
Depending on the lens type, cost of the Corbinas is $149 to $249 for non-prescription versions. The Rx Corbinas start at $299, but prices range depending on your prescription type and eye doctor markup fees.
For my prescription, the glasses were sharp. Some sunglasses do not acquiesce with my Rx -- a far-sighted prescription with a complex cut -- but the Corbina frame held the lens fine. The blocky frame and big temples nicely obscured the lenses, which were made semi-thick in order to work with the wrap and curve of the glasses design.
One issue: Peripheral vision is compromised with the Corbina frame. The same big temples I loved for their aesthetic also serve to cut your view to the side. This was especially noticeable while driving and riding a bike -- a quick glance back on a turn is met with the temple blocking the view and making a blind spot. I was forced to turn my head in an exaggerated manner in order to see.
When I run or ride a bike, the Corbinas stay home. I wear lighter Rx sports frames from Smith instead. But for moderate activity, the comfort and visual clarity of the Costa glasses is hard to beat. They are great everyday glasses for summer use, in Minnesota to the tropics, sun glaring down in each place.
--Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear at www.gearjunkie.com.