Smith Optics recently debuted a new take on the polarized lens game.
The company calls its lens technology ChromaPop. Available in several tints, it is advertised to be a new kind of polarization that can “improve the speed of visual processing so you see truer color, faster.”
Wait, you will be able to “see faster” with these glasses? That’s the claim.
In my test of an RX version of the glasses, the ChromaPop effect was in some ways subtle, others dramatic. Put on a pair and your vision shifts to show a world of higher contrast and altered colors.
I looked at a field of grass in the sun and noticed immediate increased definition — the blades and grass grains popped clearly where before I’d seen more of a uniform field.
The grass was greener, more vibrant, as well. The Smith lenses change the color of your surroundings with their tints.
But, in truth, the overall ChromaPop difference was subtle compared to other good polarized sunglasses I own. This is to say the optics are pleasing and sharp, but the visual experience of popping colors and higher contrast is not entirely unique.
Smith markets ChromaPop as something superior. The lenses feel like polycarbonate, but Smith uses a proprietary material called Trivex, a clear and durable urethane-based lens that takes dye to create a tint
The larger marketing effort is around the lenses and how they “eliminate color confusion for the brain.” (This is the “seeing faster” part.) Smith cites ChromaPop’s design blocks “color intersections” where light waves get muddled. The result, the company claims, is faster mental processing of colors, clearer vision, and reduced strain or eye fatigue.
I tested the Polar Brown lens, one of four ChromaPop tint options. It’s a deep, rich shade and was good for sunny summer days. I was happy with the lens performance, and this past summer I grabbed the Smiths more often than other sunglasses on my shelf.
ChromaPop lenses are available in several frame types from Smith. I tested a frame called the Tortoise Lowdown. It’s a stylish design that got lots of comments. However, choosing again I would go with a wrap-around style to better block light coming in from the sides.
Sunglasses with ChromaPop lenses like the Lowdowns, as well as sportier options, start at $209. Try ChromaPop if you want to see the world a little sharper, even a little “faster,” perhaps.