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NoIR SpectraShields
Comfortable FitOver Sunglasses

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NoIR SpectraShields:
Comfortable FitOver Sunglasses

NoIR Medical Technologies
P.O. Box 159
South Lyon, MI 48178
1-800-521-9746
http://www.noir-medical.com

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness

Sunglasses are sunglasses. Or are they? When it comes to NoIR's SpectraShields, they are in a class of their own. These fit-over sunglasses are comfortable to wear, practical, and they come in a wide range of filters. Odds are that they have just the right filter for you....

For most people, a pair of sunglasses is simply a nice item to have on hand for those times when it is convenient to cut down on the light, or glare, in their environment. However, for many visually impaired individuals, sunglasses can be more than a convenience. They can be a down right necessity that can be just as important, if not more so, than any eyeglasses or other visual aid that they might use. This is because too much light, or glare, can have a detrimental impact on their visual acuity and their ability to function. And sometimes, especially for those with photophobia, too much light can be very painful.

When choosing a pair of sunglasses, it is important to consider a number of factors. Your answers to these questions can help you determine what type of sunglasses you need. For example: Even after consulting with your vision specialist, finding the correct sunglass frame style and filter colors that best suit you will, in the end, be a matter of trial and error. So don't be afraid to try several different styles, colors, and brands until you find out what best suits your individual needs. Personally, after years of trial and error I discovered the fabulous selection of sunglasses made by NoIR Medical. They make fit-overs, clip-ons, goggles, and non-fit-over fashion frames. Best of all, NoIR's sunglasses are available in a wide range of filters and odds are that you can find one, if not several filter colors that will be of use to you.

For years I've been, quite happily, wearing NoIR's traditional fit-overs. These are hard, plastic sunglasses that fit over your regular eyeglasses, and provide all over protection, front, sides, top and bottom. They are, however a bit bulky looking, and they can be hot to wear in the summer because they fit fairly snugly around your eyeglasses, so there is not much ventilation. Nonetheless they do provide an outstanding amount of light protection, and they have been an indispensable element of my attire since I first started wearing them.

While I love my traditional fit-overs, I found a new product that I love even more! This is NoIR's SpectraShield fit-overs. Like the traditional fit-overs, these come in a wide range of filters and they provide all over protection, front, top, bottom, and sides. However, with the SpectraShields, the filters are placed into molded plastic frames that have traditional ear pieces (temple arms). They also have rounded edges, for a less bulky and more fashionable look when compared to traditional fit-overs which do not have 'frames'. The traditional fit-over's are made entirely from the filter material, and do not have inserted lenses as the SpectraShield's do.

With the SpectraShields, you have, besides the two front lenses, a lenses has been inserted into each side of the frame. The frames also have a small bill that faces your forehead, which helps to block out light from above. As well, the frames are tappered along the sides to allow for ventilation. This tapering does allow a minimal amount of light to seep past the protection offered by the sunglasses. However, this small amount of light, on the periphery of your vision field, is a reasonable tradeoff in return for the greater ventilation that the tapering offers over traditional, snug fitting fit-overs. This 'ventilation' makes these sunglasses of particularly useful if you will be wearing them while doing strenuous activities or in a hot environment. I found these frames to be extremely comfortable and well suited for all-day wear, even when hiking or doing other activities that have a tendency to 'bounce' the sunglasses. With some other types of sunglasses I found that 'bouncing' for long periods had a tendency to dent my nose, but I've not had this problem with any of the SpectraShield frames that I've tried.

All of NoIR's products are made to exacting standards and are, in my opinion, of the highest quality and I highly recommend their sunglasses without any reservations. They have dozens of filter colors that can be used in almost any of their products. For example they have over 25 colors designed to block UV light, and over 18 colors designed to block Infrared and ultraviolet light. Filters are also available that offer Laser Eye Protection. Detailed information about these various filters, as well as pictures of the various styles of frames offered by NoIR can be found on their website at: http://www.noir-medical.com/catalog.htm.

All of the filters offered by NoIR can be used in the SpectraShield frames. To give you an idea a few of the filters available, and their uses, let's look at the following four filter colors, 4% Dark Plum, 20% Medium Plum, 2% Dark Amber, and the 40% Light Amber. The percentage figure given in the filter's title refers to the amount of visible light that is transmitted through the filter.

The 4% Dark Plum filter offers 100% Ultraviolet Protection and 96% Blue Light Protection. This is a very dark, general purpose filter that provides good contrast and glare reduction. This filter helps to bring out the 'reds', giving the world a very nice rose-colored tint that I find very pleasing. I have found that this filter greatly increases my visual acuity, and is very soothing to wear.

Because the 4% Dark Plum filter lets in a small amount of light, I've found that on most occasions, they are too dark to wear indoors. As well, they are often too dark to wear on overcast days, or in the early morning or evening when it is not too bright. On such occasions I've found that the 20% Medium Plum filters are a good choice. These filters also offer 100% UV Protection and 96% Blue Light Protection, and like the 4% Dark Plum's, offer good contrast and glare reduction. However, unlike the 4% filters, they let 'in' a lot more light, so they are good in low light situations, and they can be comfortably worn indoors. For indoor use I found them to be particularly useful against incandescent type lights. For protection from flourescent lights I found that the amber colored filters suited me better.

I cannot stress enough that you should try out a wide range of filters, as I'm sure you'll find, as I did, that different filters will suit you better in various situations. Your eye care or low vision professional should be able to offer advice on what filters might work best for you. Many low vision and vision impairment specialists have a selection of filters available for you to try out in various situations - if not they might know somewhere in your area where you could try out various filters.

Being a bit on the photophobic side, I wear sunglasses inside and out. As stated above, when it comes to flourescent lighting, I found that NoIR's amber filters offer me the best protection. For indoor use, I like NoIR's 40% Light Amber, not only for protection from flourescent lights, as well as other indoor lighting sources, but I also like wearing them when working on the computer. The 40% Light Amber filters offer 100% UV Protection and 85% Infrared Protection. Besides being good indoor glasses, they are also useful in low light, outdoor situations, such as dark days and in stormy weather.

Lastly, my favorite, really, really dark filter is NoIR's 2% Dark Amber. This filter offers 100% UV Protection, 100% Blue Light Protection, and 100% Infrared Protection. According to NoIR's website, this filter is "Helpful for early stages of retinitis pigmentosa." This filter is very dark, allowing only 2% of the visible light to be transmitted through the lenses. I find this filter to be particularly helpful on very bright days, especially when there is snow on the ground, or when I am around water - such as on a lake.

In addition to these four filters, I've also tried out several other colors and I've found several that I like. However, for my situation, I've discovered that the above four colors work the best for me and my needs. I hope that you'll take the time to find out which filters work the best for you. Give them a try - if you are like me, you'll be surprised as just how helpful the different filters can be in different situations.

To summerize, if you haven't guessed it already, I am a card carrying NoIR fan. I've found their fit-over sunglasses to be superior to any other brand that I've tried, and they offer the widest range of filters that I've ever found in one place. In addition, I've found their sales representatives to be extremely helpful. Best of all, I've found that their SpectraShield style of fit-overs to be extremely comfortable to wear while still offering a significant amount of all-over 'light' protection. They are great for general wear and they are particularly suited for outdoor 'active' wear as they offer more ventilation than most traditional fit-overs.

To learn more about NoIR Medical Technologies and their complete product line, check out their website at: http://www.noir-medical.com/.

Please note that currently, when you follow the above link to their main page, you will see two pictures. One of their GlareShield frames, and one of the SpectraShields frame. The GlareShield frame is the same as the traditional fit-over frame where the entire sunglass is made of the filter material. These two pictures are a very handy means of getting an idea of the differences between the traditional styled fit-over frame, and the new SpectraShield frames.

As well, if you look at the left-hand side of the screen, you will see a list of links. I'd like to point out two links located toward the top of the list. One is labeled low vision, and the other labeled cataract. The Low Vision link will take you to pages that list various causes of low vision. When you click on a specific condition, such as Glaucoma, a new page will open that lists filters recommended for patients with that condition. The Cataract link will take you to a page that offers suggestions on suitable filters for pre and post operative cataract patients.

This review was originally published - December 4, 2002

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