Eye protection on the water 

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One of the main things about sailing is looking cool right?   You know, the tousled, sun-kissed hair, the healthy year-round facial tan, sunglasses permanently wrapped around the eyes.

Eyewear maybe part of the uniform when it comes to sailing but the role the right pair of sunglasses can play while you are out on the water should never be underestimated.    

It is no surprise prolonged exposure to the sun’s harmful rays can have damaging effects on your eyes but it may come as a surprise exactly how important the right eye protection is on the water, not only from the sun but from other elements.    

A number of eye diseases have been linked to extreme sun exposure, UV rays and harsh glare including cataracts, macular degeneration, keratitis (snow blindness) and pterygium, and extended exposure to the sun while out at sea can mean the effects of the sun are more intense than when inland.    

At the moment there is no means of prevention except protection from the sun and good personal health practices. For that reason, it is essential to look after your eyes using high quality eyewear which offers 100 per cent protection from harmful UVA and UVB rays.    

Another problem you will experience on the water is distracting glare - even when the weather is overcast it can still have an impact on your vision.  You will find glare reflecting off the water, sails, the deck and other boats.    

Glare causes you to squint and strain your eyes often resulting in eye fatigue. Polarized lenses organize the sun’s dazzling rays eliminating glare and giving you a crystal clear view of what’s ahead at all times. Polarized lenses even allow you to see below the waters surface so you can watch out for and avoid any debris.     Sunglasses should protect you from more than the bright sun so impact resistant polycarbonate lenses are a must.    

It is also necessary to protect your eyes from wind, dust, spray and salt by wearing a quality pair of wraparound sunglasses. These protect you not only from the elements but also from any glare creeping in through the side giving you complete peripheral protection. Look out for lenses that feature a hydrophobic coating as this will repel both water and oil off the lens surface keeping them dry and smudge free.    

Top quality eyewear is an essential piece of kit for eye protection on the water and with the unpredictability of the weather out at sea it is key to be prepared for any conditions.    

Bollé are an official supplier to Skandia Team GBR and use the very latest optical technology and polarization to provide the sailors with the very best eyewear in order to achieve their optimum performance both on and off the water.    

With design input from some of the world’s top athletes, Bollé have designed a range of superior performance sunglasses specifically to help face the challenges on the water including harsh glare, poor visibility and high octane action.    

Skandia Team GBR 470 helm Penny Clark owns two pairs of Bollé sunglasses, ‘polarized Fang’ and ‘Traverse’ with interchangeable lenses.     She admits that her sunglasses are an essential piece of her kit for both training and competition.    

Penny said: “I pretty much always sail in sunglasses as it is really important to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays.  I also wear contact lenses and I find that wearing sunglasses stops my lenses drying out.  As I always wear them finding the right lenses to cope with all light conditions is really important and that’s where I find the modulator lenses come in.    

“I have a small head so finding sunglasses that give me a good fit for sailing is really difficult.  Bolle’s extensive range made it easy for me to find a pair that gave me the right fit for everyday use, which is why I chose the Fang model.  The Traverse can be converted to goggles and this is really important for me when I am sailing as I get a lot of spray in my face and the Traverse glasses keep the salt water out of my eyes and hence give me good vision all day long even in extreme conditions.    

“Having interchangeable lenses for the Traverse glasses is really useful as I can have spray protection with clear lenses in dark conditions but then change to have polarised lenses when it’s bright and sunny.  If it’s a changeable day then the modulator rose lenses are my preferred choice.    

“I use my Fang glasses in everything I do from sailing, cycling to general wear.  I could really do with a few extra pairs of these with different lenses as I use them so much!”    

For more information about Bollé and advice on how you can best protect your eyes out on the water, visit