Smith's new ChromaPop Glass Polarchromic Lenses are worth paying attention to

New lens tech in the world of sunglasses doesn't come around often
smith ChromaPop Glass Polarchromic Lenses
The new ChromaPop Glass Polarchromic Lenses from Smith (photo: Smith Optics).

Truly meaningful product news in the world of sunglasses comes few and far between. Often, years go by in between impactful product releases. Sunglass makers do their best to fill the gaps in between, mostly by releasing new styles and frame designs. While frame construction definitely matters — frames play a big role in fit, comfort, coverage, durability and more — lenses are the real engine of every pair of quality sunglasses on the market.

But, developing new lens technology typically requires years of R&D and often involves developing entirely new manufacturing techniques. As a result, new lenses don’t come around all that often. When they do, it’s usually worth paying attention. So it is with the latest news from Smith, who recently announced its all-new ChromaPop Glass Polarchromic Lenses.

Whether a pair of sunglasses is good or bad, effective or ineffective, the right tool for the job or the wrong one, starts and ends with the lenses. Everything else is just a feature. Which makes it a bit of a surprise that the new ChromaPop Glass Polarchromic Lenses — which combine for the first time three of Smith’s most popular and effective lens technologies — have rolled out somewhat quietly. Currently, Smith’s new lenses are only available in two different frame styles — Smith’s popular Guide’s Choice and the all-new Hookset style.

The aforementioned three bits of lens tech that come together in Smith’s new lens offering are polarized glass, photochromic adaptability (automatic lightening or darkening of the lens tint based on ambient brightness), and the wildly popular ChromaPop — Smith’s selective light blocking scheme, which competes with the likes of Costa’s 580G and Bajio’s LAPIS. Smith has offered all of these technologies in previous lens offerings, but all three have never been available in a single lens.

Like photochromic lenses that have come before it, the new ChromaPop Glass Polarchromic Lenses are designed to be an all-in-one solution for anglers that will take them from morning to nightfall and through varying environments and light conditions.

During bright sun conditions, the lenses will offer 11% VLT (visible light transmission), which is a relatively standard range for a full sun lens. As ambient light changes and wanes, the lenses will automatically shift to as much as 20-23% VLT. That level of VLT is roughly where the low-light category of sunglass lenses begins, though some low-light lenses — including offerings from Smith itself — allow as much as 40% of visible light to pass through.

Currently, the new ChromaPop Glass Polarchromic Lenses are available in two lens tints — Yellow Blue Mirror and Brown Green Mirror. MSRP is $305 in all available frame styles.



Are they available as prescription lenses?