As always, written by Ric Peralta, the Optical Jedi
In my continuing effort to present all new cutting edge and innovative products, today’s piece is on the latest offerings from Maui Jim Ophthalmic collection–the High Contrast Everyday Lens (HCE). This new lens technology, available both in Single Vision and Progressive, has been designed to assist in making the your world more distinct and defined…
Wait…Maui Jim Makes Everyday Lenses???
Close to two years ago Maui Jim launched an Ophthalmic collection of frames and lenses. After doing much research and development, they felt ready to enter into the non-sunglass eyewear market. The frames and lenses are designed to the same high standards you’re used to seeing from Maui Jim Sunwear. And just like the sunwear, their lenses are manufactured directly by Maui Jim, and thus are not through any insurance approved laboratories. However, the potentially slightly more expensive lens can make a lot of sense, if you have the needs to match their innovative products.
So What’s Different Here?
This lens has both a functional and a cosmetic difference from your classic everyday lens. It has a distinct, slightly lavender-blue hue. This is is not the anti-reflective creating the color, it is inherent to the lens material. The distinct color of this lens is serving the purpose of removing the hardest light for our eyes to focus on, as well as reducing the amount of yellow visible, to make the world whiter and brighter.
Backstory Digression on the Theory of Light and Perception…
Our eyes perceive color through the cones in our retina. The cones perceive specifically blue, green, and red. All the millions of colors we perceive are a mixture of these three primary colors. Light particles travel in a wave form. You may recall the fun little mnemonic device, ROY G. BIV for remembering the colors of the rainbow. This trick lays out the colors in the order of a rainbow which also correctly coincides with their specific wavelength order (Red has the longest wavelength, Violet the shortest).
Because the blue end of the spectrum has such a short wavelength, the light hits the cones of your retina in a challenging wave, with peaks so close together that the eye can struggle to see the images made of blue clearly.
In addition to the concerns of the difficulty to focus on the blue light spectrum, we also have to deal with another unfortunate aspect of aging which impacts our ability to see things clearly defined…especially at night. Cataracts are one outcome of this aging of our internal lens. As we age, that lens becomes less flexible and more yellowed (from UV exposure). The yellowing of our lens makes it harder for us to see things in a clearly defined way. Cataract surgery replaces our internal lens with a synthetic one. Post-Cataract patients often describe how the world becomes brighter and whiter after the surgery, returning their vision to the way it was when they were younger. The Maui Jim HCE lens is a way to gain back those young eyes before you have surgery.
The Maui Jim HCE lens is trying to eliminate the spectrum of visible light which is hardest for our eyes to focus on, and this is why the lens has that specific color visible to it. By absorbing this challenging part of the visible light spectrum, it leaves behind a cleaner, easier-to-focus-on component of visible light. This is also the basis behind HID headlights. Both are designed to increase contrast to a maximum by eliminating the muddiest aspects of visible light. For this same reason, the HCE lens from Maui Jim makes the world much whiter and brighter, despite looking through a tinted lens.
I have been wearing the Maui Jim HCE as part of my regular eyeglass rotation, to test how effectively the lens lives up to the promise. And I have to say the High contrast component of the lens definitely delivers.
As you can see from the above image, the lenses make the image noticeably less yellow when looking through them. This translates to incredible clarity at night. Sadly it’s really hard to demonstrate this through photography (believe me I tried). I like to describe the experience as though my eyes are HID headlights. Everything is brighter and whiter and more defined. To the point I can even make out some of the details of the grills on the cars behind me in the rearview mirror.
The progressive lens technology that Maui Jim uses in their ophthalmic collection is the same they use in their sunglasses. And I was expecting the same experience (I find their progressive lenses to be extremely comfortable in their sunglasses, which you can read more about here). My experience in the ophthalmic progressive has not been quite the same. It is a good lens and it is very comfortable, but I do see the peripheral blur closer to my central vision than I do in my sunglasses. I’m guessing that this is at least in part due to the ophthalmic frames not being as curved as the sunglasses, and with the flattened frame mounting the natural curve of the lens is not allowing for quite as much peripheral clarity. Choosing a proper frame fit could also help in reducing this peripheral vision blur (the frame I chose is perhaps just a little too small for my head and thus the frame is stretching out to a flatter frame front).
Overall I am very pleased with the experience of my Maui Jim HCE lenses. The extra white clarity of the lens is quite soothing to experience. In fact, when I remove the glasses to demonstrate with a patient, or clean them, I’m overwhelmed by how yellow and sepia-toned the world looks.
You can only get these lenses from a Maui Jim Authorized retailer who is carrying the ophthalmic collection from Maui Jim. It’s worth considering, especially if you have any struggles with night vision, or the yellowing of aging eyes.
As always, if you have any questions about this article, or any other topic you might like me to explore, please feel free to contact me here.
6 thoughts on “Review: Maui Jim High Contrast Lens”
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I have a question related to frame width and progressive lens comfort/discomfort. I notice your comment above related to frame size and I notice in your photos on this website that the frames you wear appear to be a bit wider than normal (i.e., they appear to be as wide as your head, such that your eyes appear to located a bit towards the center of the frame, rather than in the center of the lens). Can wider lenses help with progressive comfort? Following cataract surgery (which gave me good distance vision), I purchased both regular glasses and wrap-around sunglasses made with the same, major brand, premium progressive with a variable corridor. The sunglasses were immediately very comfortable. The regular glasses have never been more than minimally tolerable despite being remade once. My eyes are centered in the lenses of the regular glasses, but the total width of the lenses is a fair bit less than the width of my face.
The width of the lens shouldn’t have a significant impact on comfort of vision, except insofar that if the frame is too narrow it can force the lenses to be less wrapped to your face (we call it face form). If it is spread out away from your face starting at the bridge, then you will never see comfortably. If you are wearing Maui Jim I can tell you that their progressive designs vary a little between the clear and sun versions which could be contributing to your discomfort
Are there any other “yellow blocking” lenses in the marketplace similar to the Maui Jim high contrast lenses? There are a number of lenses with inherent blue light-blocking properties, but I don’t believe I’ve seen any which inherently block yellow light like the Maui Jim’s (although it appears some specialized coatings like those on the Zeiss DriveSafe might mimic the effect)
I have not found any other lens design on the market for reducing yellow light. And you are correct in that the Zeiss DriveSafe is a decent second option though their anti-reflective is not as good.
The Zeiss coating does have the advantage of being effectively clear, and therefore cosmetically better than the blue-hued Maui Jim lenses, particularly for an everyday pair of glasses.