I wanted to see if different color lenses really make a difference in performance on the water and while running my boat. To conduct the test, I wrangled three identical pair of Costa “Rooster” model sunglasses—identical except for the lens color. One pair was fitted with Blue lenses, another with Silver lenses and the third with light, amber-colored, lenses that Costa calls “sunrise.” The frame size and style for each was the same. I took these lenses out in a variety of conditions. Here is what I found.
The Bright: In brilliant open-water sun, I found these lenses superb. They not only cut the glare and provide me with the visual acuity and contrast required to spot fish and hazards. Moreover, my eyes did not feel strained, or “ burned” as they have when I’ve worn other colors.
The Dim: They are very dark. I found it mandatory to flip them up in order to read under an umbrella at a seaside diner or to root around in the depths of my boat’s radio box. And at dawn and dusk—unless you are running right at Old Sol—I was more comfortable with them off, than on.
The Bright: Providing a classically-cool aesthetic, the silver lens color proved it could cut the glare in bright offshore environments without allowing my eyes to feel tired or “ sunburnt.” Inshore, silver allowed me to distinguish shoals from deep water and to see into the water to identify bait. I loved that I didn’t need to remove them as much as I did the blue, such as when retrieving something from a dark stowage locker, or signing the credit card slip at the fuel dock. Their dawn, dusk and foggy day performance is superior to the blue lens.
The Dim: After 6 or 8 hours on bright flats or offshore, I started to miss the extra darkness of the blue lenses. In low light situations, these were outperformed by the yellow lens.
The Bright: Sunrise is an apt name. These lenses performed excellent in the low light of dawn and dusk, times when other lenses are too dark. Switching to these in the low “ magic hour light” allowed me to see beneath the surface glare, to spot fish and shoals. They also proved excellent in the flat light of overcast days and on foggy days I felt that my watch-keeping ability was better for wearing them. They rarely darkened my view to the extent that I felt I had to remove them.
The Dim: In bright light offshore and over sandy flats, Sunrise lenses proved less than optimal, though better than no glasses at all. Basically, they over-amplify the bright sun, casting the world in a quasi sci-fi look.
So if I had just one lens color to wear, which would it be? Silver. The silver lens provided the best all around-performance for use in varied aquatic environments and through the widest spectrum of ambient light levels. If I spent most of my days offshore or in clear shallow water over light bottom, I’d choose blue. Yellow lenses should be in every boater’s kit as a backup pair, in my opinion, because of its superior performance at dawn, dusk and in fog and overcast days.
Why I Chose Costa Rooster
I chose the Costa Rooster to test the three lens colors because I needed a top quality frame so that I could better focus on assessing the performance of the lenses.
Naturally, a big part of frame selection is the shape of one’s face, and the Rooster provides a large fit for my biggish head. They offer a wraparound style that prevents glare from sneaking in the sides—and these are vented which keeps them cooler to wear and less prone to fogging. I am used to having to drill holes in the arms of sunglasses in order to attach a sunglass retainer made from mono fishing line—but Costa beat me to it: these are pre-drilled.
Costa Rooster sunglasses are lightweight, and didn’t lift off my face –even when I stepped to the side of my center console’s windshield while running at forty knots. They proved durable, weathering drops, being chucked atop the helm and other abuse without fail. Finally, here’s a “spec” any sunglasses of mine must possess: when placed atop my head, they should remain in place whether I look down into the water, up at a shooting star or shake my head from side to side.
Costa's 580 Lens Technology
According to Costa del Mar, the 580 lens technology selectively filters out harsh yellow and harmful high-energy ultraviolet blue light. Filtering yellow light enhances reds, blues and greens, and produces better contrast and definition while reducing glare and eye fatigue. Absorbing high-energy blue light cuts haze, producing greater visual clarity and sharpness.
Costa’s 580 lenses, the clearest lenses on the planet, are available in either glass or impact resistant polycarbonate. Lens color options include: gray, copper, amber, sunrise, blue mirror, green mirror and silver mirror. Costa Sunglasses are also available in customized Rx sun lenses.