Oakley has been at the forefront of innovative eyewear design since 1984. Not happy with the available options for sports-specific sunglasses, Oakley set out on a 15-year research and development project to create the ground-breaking Prizm lens. Using hyperspectral imaging, Oakley examined spectral peaks in every possible light and weather condition, across the terrains we love to tackle. Snow, ice, water, dirt, and pavement—no surface was ignored. After examining the data collected by the hyperspectral cameras, Oakley’s team got down to business creating Prizm lenses made for certain sports and activities.
In addition to shading your eyes from the sun and blocking UV rays, Oakley’s Prizms target individual wavelengths of color and refine them. They enhance the world around you to provide better visual acuity—filtering out the bad light that washes out or hinders vision, and amping up the good light to improve contrast and decrease eye fatigue. In short, PRIZM manipulates the light spectrum and boosts contrast to make everything in your environment more vivid and colorful.
Whether on the mountain, road, water, field or course, Prizm lenses allow athletes and consumers to see details earlier, faster, and deeper, resulting in an enhanced experience. For example, in the case of cycling on the road, this means you’ll be able to spot differences more quickly in road texture, and road signs are easier to read even at speed.
To understand Prizm, we need to first understand how our eyes see color. The visible light our eyes see is made up of a spectrum of color wavelengths. Light receptors within the eye absorb these wavelengths and transmit messages to the brain to produce the colors we see. The typical human eye detects wavelengths from about 400nm to 700nm. All Oakley lenses block out Ultraviolet light beneath 400nm to protect the eyes from these harmful rays, but within the visible color spectrum, Prizm can tune light differently than traditional lenses.
A spectrometer is a scientific tool used for measuring wavelengths of light. With this tool, Oakley engineers can measure the amount of each individual wavelength of light passing through a sunglass lens. The test is simple, place a pair of sunglasses between the spectrometer and the light source and the equipment measures the percentage of each wavelength passing through the lens.
If a non-contrast lens is placed between the light source and the spectrometer, it shows a smooth curve, demonstrating how the lens filters light evenly across the spectrum. If a Prizm lens is placed between the light source and spectrometer, it will show light being filtered in a very different way, with sharp peaks and dips, which are intentionally designed based on two key principles.. The first is our eye’s natural color sensitivity - we filter out light where we’re less sensitive and bring in more light where our eyes are more sensitive. This helps us separate colors, creating contrast and vividness. The second factor is the colors that are important for that environment and activity. We leverage the important colors in each environment (using the hyperspectral camera) to build contrast where we need it most, which gives us more detail and depth perception.
Conventional sunglass lenses are like the volume knob on a stereo. They turn down all the wavelengths of sound together, with no fine tuning. Prizm allows us to have precision tuned color similar to how a stereo equalizer lets you adjust sound precisely, increasing or decreasing the bass and treble in specific parts of the spectrum. That’s what Prizm does with light, precisely tuning each part of the spectrum with specially engineered lens tints tailored for specific sports and environments.
Prizm and polarized are different technologies that address different visual issues. Polarized technology is designed to block glare. Prizm technology is designed to enhance color, contrast, and detail. In certain situations, cutting glare is necessary. The most commonly discussed is how cutting glare reflecting off water helps you see what’s under the surface. But glare is not always an enemy and in certain situations it can even be a performance cue. Glare off a golf ball can help you track the ball in flight. Glare reflecting off the road can help you spot hazards like slick, wet or oily surfaces. Glare reflecting off the snow can indicate an icy patch. Our lens designers understand this delicate balance and the effect a polarized vs non-polarized lens will have on a specific sporting environment and develop our Prizm lens program accordingly. In some cases, Oakley combines both Prizm and Polarized to give you the benefits of both technologies. All Oakley Prizm fishing lenses are polarized as well as a variety of Prizm Everyday lenses which are available in polarized and non-polarized options.
All PRIZM lenses are made of Plutonite: Oakley’s proprietary lens material. Plutonite is a high-grade polycarbonate material that is highly impact resistant.
Fine-tuning vision and optimizing contrast, Prizm lenses reveal details that would typically be missed by the naked eye. It’s like having a personal sound technician adjust the highs and lows throughout each song so you can feel the individual notes, but for your eyes!