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A pair of stylish sunglasses makes you stand out in a crowded beach. However, consumers should not only focus on good looks alone. Sunglasses have to provide protection against harmful UV light and must be highly durable, which is made possible by high performance polymers.


Klaus Hülsmann of Evonik Industries explains the advantages of TROGAMID lenses.
Klaus Hülsmann of Evonik Industries explains the advantages of TROGAMID lenses.
Photo: 12

High fashion style currently goes for large and colorful,” said Paul Rottler, an optician who operates some 50 optician’s shops throughout Germany. “Large sunglasses in noticeable, dominant colors are the style of the season. That includes lenses with green, red or orange-yellow mirrored surfaces, even blue. These aren’t pastels, but bold colors that actually make a statement.”

 

In addition to these colorful models, he said that classic black sunglasses are still in demand.

 

Whatever the choices are, the same rule applies - sunglasses have to provide effective protection against UV light and despite all their elegance must be sturdy enough to avoid health damage or unnecessary costs. That represents a special challenge for manufacturers of sunglasses.

 

Sunglasses have to withstand enormous stresses, which is a major concern,” explained Mr Rottler. Heat, sand, dust, creams–sunglasses are exposed to a lot.

Let’s take the extreme example of leaving your sunglasses on the black dashboard of your car below the windshield. Temperatures can easily reach 60°C or more, which separates the wheat from the chaff.”

 

More durable than glass

 

Glasses made of plain materials frequently are not able to withstand these conditions. They become brittle, while sunscreen residue may react with the material of plain sunglasses frames, leaving unsightly permanent stains.

 

Eyeglass frames and lenses made of high performance polymers, such as Evonik’s transparent polyamide (PA) TROGAMID CX, could be a better solution, according to Mr Rottler, “They don’t become brittle or hard, but consistently maintain their quality.”

 

He is pleased that a growing number of manufacturers use the material for their production of glasses, such as Porsche Design P‘8592 by Rodenstock that have temples made of TROGAMID.

 

Our high-end material is ideally suited for designers,” explained Klaus Hülsmann of Evonik Industries. “It offers a wide range of creative choices, as the material is flexible yet extremely resistant.”

 

Since the substance is also transparent, it can be tinted in any imaginable color. Evonik said it is flexible, virtually indestructible, and allows for highly delicate processing.

 

TROGAMID CX just doesn’t create any problems in everyday handling. We like to call it ‘trouble-free’,” claimed Mr Hülsmann.

 

Tests performed by the TÜV Rheinland backed up his statement. Some test series involved bouncing steel balls off TROGAMID lenses - without leaving a trace of damage.

 

Such tests are crucial to determine the breakage safety of lenses, for example during sports, when a ball may hit a pair of glasses. Breaking glass or splintering plastic lenses would be disastrous in that case.

 

Safe for children

 

Breakage safety is also an important issue for children’s sunglasses. “Children should always wear high quality plastic lenses and plastic eyeglass frames to effectively prevent injuries,” advised Dr Frank Holz, Professor and Medical Director of the Ophthalmology Clinic at Bonn University Hospital in Germany.

 

Splinters of real glass could lead to eye damage and temples that break during a fall may cause injury. Caution is advised, as the harm caused by cheap plastic toy sunglasses can do more damage than good. They may become brittle after a short time and the risk of injury increases, which makes high performance plastic materials a rational choice.

 

On the other hand, sunglasses made of plain materials generally do not offer sufficient UV protection, which is essential for children and adults, as Dr Holz adviced, “Toy sunglasses are not sufficient in any case.”

 

Even though many people view sunglasses as a fashion accessory, physicians consider them indispensable to maintain ocular health, especially in the summer. “Sunglasses protect the sensitive retinal tissue of the eye, particularly in the presence of intense sunlight,” he said.

 

Reduces facial skin irritation

 

Although sunglasses primarily protect the eyes, they also have to be gentle on the skin. During the summer heat, our faces tend to sweat more than usual, including in places where glasses touch the skin. That requires additional caution with the metallic temples of sunglasses, especially for those with nickel allergies.

 

Even temples and nose pads that are coated with non-allergenic material may become eroded by sweat and release allergenic material, according to Berlin dermatologist Dr Jeanette Eicholtz, who added that glasses made of plastic are relatively unproblematic in that regard.

 

Nickel allergy symptoms include skin rash and itching at the contact points. Even those who are not allergic may notice red skin, particularly in the area of the nose pads. That tends to be caused by contact pressure, possibly because the glasses weigh a little more. Conversely, that means lighter glasses made of non-allergenic TROGAMID are associated with fewer problems.
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