Your eyes are one of the most delicate organs on the body, and Bollé have refined their approach to protecting them over many decades.
The company was founded in 1888, by Séraphin Bollé in Oyonnax, France, on the border near Geneva. Today, Bollé is synonymous with high-performance eyewear across a host of sports including cycling, skiing, golf and sailing
Protecting your eyes at sea
Each sport has its own individual requirements, but sailing offers one of the most challenging environments for eyewear. The bright light that reflects off the sea surface, sails and a polished fibreglass hull can scorch the retinas and cornea, affecting visibility and performance and potentially causing problems with cataracts in older age. The best sunglasses will protect from these harmful UV rays by reducing their intensity, and also limit visual discomfort from glare, eye fatigue, squinting and headaches.
UVA and UVB protection are absolutely essential to protect the eyes and also the delicate skin around them when you’re out on the water. The sun’s rays can cause serious and irreversible damage, some of which only becomes apparent later in life.
You might think that the most ‘at risk’ time for UV damage is during the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest, but that’s not the case at sea.
‘The greatest dose of UV to the eyes comes mid-morning and in mid- to late- afternoon when the sun is lower and bounces off the sea,’ says Nick Dash, a sports vision optometrist who advises the British Sailing Team. ‘At the highest point of the sun, the eyebrow anatomically protects the eyes.’
Because of the light entering your eyes from various angles, sunglasses with traditional frames aren’t always the best option at sea. ‘The greatest sun exposure comes from the lower light and especially from the sides of the eye where we have no protection from the side rays,’ says Dash. ‘So, wear wraparound frames as they will protect your eyes more.’
Polarised lenses filter out the damaging glare that will also reduce visual sharpness. Bollé’s technology includes ‘Offshore Blue’ lenses for all-day comfort in harsh sunlight conditions, and ‘Phantom+’ lenses which, in addition to being polarised, are photochromic and are made of NXT material that offers incredible visual clarity.
These lenses also incorporate hydrophobic and oleophobic coatings, so that water and oily smudges just roll off, no longer limiting visibility. Clearer vision means better performance, with the ability even to see debris below the water’s surface.
But sunglasses do more than protect your eyes from the sun. They’re a barrier against abrasive sea water, too. ‘Chronic salt in the eyes can damage the eye surfaces, and not only stings but causes long-term damage that is irreparable,’ says Dash.
In elite sailing, every tiny advantage counts – from the precise trim of sails to the quality of last night’s sleep. But one often often-overlooked factor in a team’s success is the quality of their vision. And in a sport that involves split-second decision-making in a world of dazzling light and reflections, that means high performance sunglasses. That’s why the British Sailing Team has a long-standing relationship with Bollé, its Official Supplier of sunglasses since 2008.
A high-quality pair of sunglasses can make a huge difference to your eye health, your enjoyment of sailing and – if you’re racing – your finishing position. Bollé eyewear is worn by sailors who are part of the most decorated sailing nation in Olympic history, but they offer the same benefits to anyone out on the water.