Summer is upon us and the national pastime turns to cricket. Dads will regale stories of yesteryear and youngsters will admire their stars and dream of what it would be like to be out there playing. In our quest to help kids make the most of their opportunities, the parents will buy them everything, including the supposed “best” sunglasses, for their chosen sport. But have you ever wondered why so many of our stars run around with their sunnies on the back of their heads? This happens in many sports, not just in cricket.
The explanation as to why the sunglasses are on their heads, and not over their eyes, is very simple – they are wearing glasses that are too dark. A dark lens decreases the amount of visible light – no matter what the marketing on the box tells you. Darkness leads to a loss of contrast which leads to difficulties in judging depth. The best solution? – put the sunnies back on top of your head. Or is it?
I have found it perplexing with all of the money that goes into sport that the simplest of answers are overlooked. Not by the sponsors though and our players trudge onto the field doing as they are told not doing as they should. Why cricketers and other sportspeople don’t wear a transition lens (one that adjusts to light levels) in the tone that best suits their pursuit is puzzling. Decision making based on visual input for all sports stands at greater than 90%, yet looking at cricket, there are now great red-toned transition lenses that are so suitable to their sport it’s ridiculous. Interestingly though, the only people on the field who are wearing them are the umpires.
Before the 2015 World Cup, we undertook a trial of different tints with all of the umpires. Surprisingly the ICC had never considered this before! Several lens tints were trialled for both the red and white ball. For the red ball the overwhelming majority of umpire preferences were for the transition red or a rose tint. (Importantly not for all umpires, but the majority whose decision to get it right is more critical than that of the players.) A tint that remains unknown to most cricketers. I have undertaken similar trials with cricketers with colour vision issues and with local clubs. The results continue to be consistent – the majority prefer the transition red toned lenses
Sooner or later more professional cricketers will change to this lens choice. Before then though, parents can give their children that slight advantage by choosing the sunglasses that are definitely the best for cricket. At EYEMAN, we believe the best premium lens for Cricket is the Rudy Project Laser Red Transition lens. This lens adapts quickly to changes in light levels whilst enhancing the contrast of the red and pink ball. A less expensive lens, but equally good at enhancing the contrast of the ball is the Ryders Orange SP. Whilst the Ryders lens isn’t transition, the tint remains light enough that the wearer doesn’t feel the need to put their sunglasses on their head.
See example below: Whilst our visual system has the ability to adjust for light changes better than that of a camera lens, it is easy to see that using a lighter red toned lens is better for judging contrast with a pink cricket ball against a green background.