Treat your sunglasses as though your vision depends upon them

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Photo by Louis Cahill

Photo by Louis Cahill

Your rod, reel and line may be the only pieces of gear more important than your sunglasses.

On most days I’d rather have the wrong fly than the wrong glasses. They are not only crucial for sight fishing and reading water but make wading safer and the whole fishing experience more pleasant.

A good pair of polarized sunglasses are not only essential but expensive, too. Their effectiveness can be seriously compromised by scratches, delamination, and unnecessary wear or damage. It makes sense to take good care of them.

Still, not everything about caring for your sunglasses is intuitive. I’ve worn glasses my whole life and recently found that I was damaging my sunglasses by washing them with soap and water, a practice I assumed was the best way to clean them. Reached out to my buddy Peter Crow at Smith Optics for some advice, and he provided me with some good common sense information to share with you.

Peter was a fishing guide for years and is a hell of a fisherman in freshwater and salt. Now making his living in the sunglass business he knows exactly how important an angler’s glasses are and how best to care for them.

Here are his recommendations.

Treat your Smith fishing sunglasses like a fine piece of equipment.

Do not leave your sunglasses in intense heat, such as the dashboard of your car. This can cause delamination of any laminated product or frame damage and disfiguring.

Any chemicals found in common products like sunscreen and insect repellant can damage glasses frames and lens. Use care when applying these products and avoid contact with glasses.

Avoid full submersion of your sunglasses in water, especially saltwater. If your glasses do get wet, always try to dry them thoroughly. Extra effort should be made to ensure dryness around the edges of the lenses.

Keep your sunglasses in their protective case or micro fiber bag when not in use.

The seat of your car is a perfect place for your sunglasses to be sat upon. Sunglasses are not crush proof.

Clean your sunglasses with an optical cleaning solution or the Smith Optics lens cleaning solution. Dry the lenses thoroughly with a soft clean cloth. Do not use tissue or paper towels for lens cleaning. Never use an abrasive cleansing agent (such as Comet) or one containing ammonia or alcohol (such as Windex).

Avoid leaving the lenses face down on any hard surface. Even glass lenses riding face down in a vehicle will end up with scratches on them.

Remove your sunglasses straight forward off of your face. Sideways removal can cause some frame stress or hinge damage.

An eyeglass retainer is always a good idea for prevention of loss or dropping of your sunglasses, especially around water.

Treat your sunglasses as though your vision depends upon them!

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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30 thoughts on “Treat your sunglasses as though your vision depends upon them

  1. do not use super/crazy glue to repair frame, the chemical reaction not only warps the frame, it will also permanently ‘fog’ the glass lenses>
    old mistake that I shall not repeat.
    Tight Lines,

  2. Great post Louis, and could not agree more about Sunnies being an absolutely essential piece of tackle.. I am still amazed by the number of anglers who still use cheap sub standard sunnies on the water, or none at all… not only does a good pair of sunglasses help you in many aspects of your fishing ( sighting, comfort, preventing fatigue etc) but the safety aspect cannot be stressed more… just get a fly of any size to any part of your face just once, and you realise just how much damage even a tiny fly/lure can cause to your eyes…

    Great post, thanks for sharing….


  3. I was always a cheap sunglasses guy, until I tried on a pair of Costas that a guide I fished with had about 4 years ago. I assumed polarized was polarized. I was wrong. Now I have Costas and Smiths and they are both miles ahead of the $15-30 glasses I used to wear. My 4 year old Costas have no marks on the lenses because I have used the case, a retainer and a proper cleaning cloth. My Smiths are newer, but they are receiving the same care, so hopefully, I can keep then scratch free as well.

  4. What great timing. I was just lamenting at the eye doc’s office this morning how Costa’s aren’t carried anywhere in the city, and how I can’t get my ‘script glasses updated. I’m stuck on a pair flying fishermen’s (higher end of their line) which got squashed a few years ago by a kid at the camp I was working at. Super glue is the current (imperfect) solution to my problems. Still a thousand times better than $30 glasses.

    Two questions:
    1- Why not allow them to get wet? Working on fishing and diving boats in the Keys for 3 summers, as well as wading often, and fishing in the rain, I find this suggestion laughable. Put some oil on the hinges when needed, and keep fishing.

    2- Why not use paper towels? When running up and down a body of water, it’s almost easier to keep a roll of paper towels in the dry box than 15 small micro clothes. (Although I recently discovered those wet lens wipes, which are a minor miracle)

      • Not in my experience. I’ve used them on Oakley’s, Costa’s, and Flying fishermans. Just softly rub the salt off. If you are pushing hard enough to scratch, your pushing too hard.

        But I don’t know much. Thanks for the feedback, G.

    • Some of the laminated materials used in modern lenses can allow water between the layers. This causes the lens to delaminate. I was surprised too

      Paper towels are made from low grade pulp including goodies like rocks and nails. They will scratch you lenses.

      • A tip a guide gave me: when running between locations, put your sunglasses in your pocket. This saves having to constantly be cleaning them.

  5. I fished through my younger years without polarized sunglasses. While I did catch fish and survive some good falls, I can now say that I own polarized sunglasses…. What were you thinking retard?! The first time on the water with my new Oakleys I could spot fish a hell of a lot easier, see the river bottom better, and there was less stress on my eyes. It was an “Ah ha” moment for me. I had those sunglasses until they fell apart. Nowadays I’m partial to Smith, but no matter the brand, every fisherman needs to invest in a pair of polarized sunglasses.
    Anyone happen to know if Windex is bad for the lenses? Sometimes I’ll use it in a pinch.

  6. Tipe: Don’t breath on your glasses and then wipe them.
    The acid in your breath will eventually destroy your lenses

  7. These are great tips. I recently purchased prescription polarized sunglasses (I went with Oakley because their Rx lenses seemed to have the best reviews for people with a fairly substantial astigmatism). In the past I have had Smith, Costa and Oakley sunglasses and tried to take pretty good care of them, but since getting the Rx lenses for my Oakley Ten frames, and the price tag on them basically tripled, I am MUCH more aware of how I am taking care of them. Plus, my eyes are so much happier that when they were wearing contacts.

    If you have been considering Rx polarized lenses… DO IT. Especially if you can take care of your sunglasses. I have gone for years wearing contacts and non-Rx lenses, and I can’t believe I did that for so long. The only negative to this, especially if you are not made of money, is that you will limit yourself to one lens tint. I prefer an amber lens tint for fishing most of the time (I live in the Wyoming high country and primarily fish mountain creeks and rivers), but I went with Oakley’s Black Iridium with a gray tinted lens. They still do well in shallow/skinny water, but are also better for bright light while driving and, if you live where you have substantial snow… snow glare. They were a better all-around choice for me.

    I do admit that I use the soap & water routine to clean them from time to time, but I try to always use a ‘soft’ soap like liquid dish soap… is this not good? I also avoid paper towels or tissues to dry them at all cost.

    Also, these tips apply to ski goggles (I have two pairs of Smith goggles, both with mirrored lenses).

    • I never should have commented on this thread. On Friday the scratch coating on my sunglasses gave out and alligatored both lenses. Here is what I have since learned.
      1. In addition to not using paper to clean lenses, don’t clean them if they are dry.
      2. Don’t leave them in a hot car. This was likely my problem.
      3. Oakley will compensate your prescription accross the curve in the lens, eliminating distortion at the edges. They will only handle rx lenses within certain limits. i.e. if you have coke bottles you are sol.
      4. Ray-Ban does something similar in a wider rx range.
      5. Rx Costas are not easy to find.

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  11. I have a pair of Costas and they fog up on even a mildly humid day. I called Costa and asked if there was any solution and they were no help at all.

    Any recommendations for de-fogging?

    • I have an old bottle of this stuff called KleerOFog. It works great. A quick google proved it hard to find. It was toxic green. Try your local ski-shop.

  12. No suprise that Costa was no help. Great glasses….absolutely horrible customer service. They used to be a great company but with success they turned into a terrible customer relations company. I am looking for a new comer to crush Costa.

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  15. For the past 30 years my fishing sun glasses have been script, polarised, photochromatic in titanium frames so they are more expensive than most of the fly reels I have so they are well cared for and my optometrist supplies me with spray and clothes to clean them. I have also fitted them with a 80lb Dacron cord which is attached to the wings with spliced loops so if they are dislodged they don’t disappear into the water.

  16. If you get drops of saltwater on lenses rinse them off with fresh water – don’t let them dry on the lenses – ever. Blot with microfiber lense cleaning cloth. Saltwater is pure nastiness for just about everything- except fish

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