What do sunglass lens categories mean?



If you’re confused about what different sunglass lens categories mean here’s a simple guide: the category number equates to a percentage of the VLT (Visible Light Transmission) that is, how much light the lens lets through. The higher the VLT the lighter the lens, conversely the lower the VLT the darker the tint will be, blocking more light coming through to the eye. Virtually all sunglass/eyewear lenses fall into one of five categories:

Category VLT
Category 0 80-100% 
Category 1 43-80%
Category 2 18-43%
Category 3 8-18%
Category 4 3-8%

The VLT can cover quite a wide a spectrum such as Category 1 which is 43-80%. Some lens colours are right on the border e.g. a yellow lens can have 78% VLT which is on the border between Category 0 and Category 1. The following is a general guide to the categories that apply to different lens colours.

Category 0 – Clear, Light Yellow, Pale Orange

Category 1 – Yellow, Orange, Rose & Vermilion

Category 2 – Purple, Red, Amber & Light brown

Category 3 – ‘Standard’ Grey & Brown

Category 4 – Dark Grey & Dark Brown

Category 3 sunglasses

Virtually every grey and brown lens polarized sunglasses we sell are Category 3 and suitable for use in strong sun conditions.

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UV Protection

The sunglass lens category or tint is separate to UV protection – the UV filter applied to lenses is actually clear so even a clear lens can be UV400 rated (the maximum protection from UVR). To find out more about UV protection read our guide to UV protection in sunglasses.



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