The promise of easily swapped lenses in glasses has been elusive until now. Most involve fumbling transfers associated with the fearful possibility of breaking the lens, frame or both, but Switch Vision has solved the problem with the innovative use of very strong magnets. Combined with their history in optical manufacturing, they provide high quality sunglasses at a competitive price.
Magnetic Interchange Lens System
The genius behind Switch sunglasses is the Magnetic Interchange Lens System that holds the lenses in place. Powerful magnets set in the inner (toward the nose) and outer (toward the ear) aspect of the lens and frame means that you just grasp the lens by placing your thumb and forefinger on both sides of the lens and pop it out, angling the toward the center so the outer edge sticks out first. Once the lens is out you can see that there are slender magnets on either side, which are not noticeable when the lens is in place. To place the lens you hover the inner aspect of the lens near the frame, whereupon the strong magnet practically grabs it from you, then release to let the outer aspect snap firmly into place. There’s no need to fiddle around with exact placement—the lens seats itself properly as the magnets take hold. Lenses can be swapped in seconds, on the fly, in high winds or poor visibility, under any conditions. Watch a four second YouTube video to see how it works.
Lenses and Frames
Lenses are in Switch Vision’s DNA, since they are related to Liberty Sport, a protective sports eyewear company. Based in New Jersey they have been producing frames and lenses designed to handle the rigors of sport since 1929. Originally an optical manufacturing company Liberty shifted their focus to performance sun and protective sports vision through Rec Specs in 1976. Launched in 2009, Switch Vision is separately managed but majority owned by the owners of Liberty Sport. Switch lenses are made with optical grade, shatterproof polycarbonate and TriGuard, a coating that is scratch and smudge resistant and water repellent. Of course, they filter UV light and are polarized to eliminate glare. Colors are balanced and modified to meet specific conditions, depending on the lens. True Color Grey lenses suppress 90% of light while Contrast Amber lenses let in more light at 85% and reduce some blue light to improve acuity. Low Light Rose Amber lenses let in a lot of light (72%) while blocking more blue light than the amber lenses to improve visual acuity in lower light conditions. Specialty lenses for golf, skiing, driving and running are available also. The yellow lens for snow sports only blocks 25% of light.
Every pair of Switch sunglasses comes with one pair of polarized or non-polarized primary lenses, a second pair of low light Rose Amber lenses, a microfiber cleaning pouch, semi-rigid case and a lens pod. The hard plastic lens pod holds the spare lenses and is about two by three inches—small enough to easily slip into a pocket. A soft plastic piece keeps the extra lenses from rubbing together and each side of the pod has a single small magnet to hold the lenses securely in place so they don’t accidentally fall out when opened.
All Switch frames are designed to accept corrective lenses, a great benefit to the many people who have difficulty finding prescription sunglasses that are appropriate for sports. Switch Vision general purpose and specialty lenses are available in a prescription. Certain Switch styles have been designed to accept a wider than normal range of prescription sun lenses so anyone can see outside comfortably even if they need corrective lenses.
Frames are designed for sporty lifestyles with durable thermoplastic nylon and shapes that enable air flow to reduce fogging. The lightweight materials are designed to distribute weight evenly on the bridge of the nose and behind the ear.
The magnetic interchange system was very intriguing but I wanted to make sure the glasses were as good as my standard sport glasses made by leading manufacturers, and that the magnets held securely. In the bright Sierra sunlight, bouncing off a shimmering layer of fresh snow, I found the Lynx glasses to be every bit as good as what I was used to. The glasses were lightweight and comfortable on my head, not pinching or resting heavily. A forgiving rubber coating on the arms felt soft, yet gripped my head securely. I couldn’t even feel the flexible nose piece, it was so light. I have a small head so I have to be careful to select glasses that don’t fall forward off my face when I tip my head down and the Lynx were quite secure. When a thick cloud cover moved in I tested how easy it was to change the lenses and really appreciated the magnets in the plastic pod, otherwise I would have dumped the lenses on the snow for sure. I popped the old lenses out and put the new lenses in in just a few seconds. It’s hard to imagine just how simple this is until you do it. I was glad the hard plastic case was provided so I didn’t worry about storing my extra lenses. Bouncing through moguls and firm snow I never worried that the lenses would pop out unexpectedly—they were rock solid and seated in place securely.
Switch sunglasses come in 21 different styles and several colors, including fun shades like purple frames and teal accents.
I’m interested in getting some magnified lenses so I can read on the beach without the geeky sunglasses-over-prescription lenses move. Unfortunately the Lynx lenses don’t come in Sun Readers, a line of magnetic lenses that has pre-set magnification along the lower edge of the lens, so I’ll be investigating getting prescription lenses.
The Switch Lynx sunglasses are fashionable, feature all the bells and whistles athletes demand, and have a foolproof lens swapping mechanism that is literally a snap to use. They can accommodate prescription lenses, too.
The Sun Readers are not available in every model. While there are quite a few models the selection isn’t as great as other leading sunglass manufacturers.
A genuinely easy lens changing system sets these Switch sunglasses apart from the pack and represents a true breakthrough in interchangeable lens systems. Maybe someday they’ll apply the magnetic lens technology to ski goggles.
Purchase online for about $129-189, depending on the style, at REI, Cabelas and other retailers. Additional lenses and accessories available for purchase at Switch Vision.
Crystal Black Lynx sunglasses: Comes with polarized grey mirror lenses and low-light rose amber lenses. Specialty and SunRX lenses are available. Best fits are medium to large size. Frames also come in Dark Tortoise and Crystal Cool Grey. $149 at Cabelas or REI
Disclosure of material connection: I received sample sunglasses from Switch in consideration for an unbiased review.