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by Scott McDonald

December 26, 2019

Goggle manufacturers give you lens color options to best suit your eyes and swimming conditions

Choosing the right color of goggles is different for every swimmer and every scenario. Whether you’re in open water during pre-dawn, an outdoor pool in the bright sunshine, or an indoor pool with regular lighting, selecting a lens color that works best takes a little more effort than just grabbing the first pair you see.

There are various colors and different tints of goggle lenses. Behind each lens color is a lot of science, and goggle manufacturers continue to test and improve goggle lenses.

“We want swimmers to be prepared for any condition they encounter, whether that is indoors, pre-dawn darkness, and transition light to bright sun,” said Ryan Dolan, senior vice president of sales and partnerships at ROKA.

One goggle color does not serve every condition a swimmer can encounter when in the water, unless they only swim indoors. For those who swim indoors, outdoors, and in open water, it’s important to have a pair for each type of condition as eye fatigue and the impact of glare can cause eye health issues.

“For open water, mirrored, polarized and photochromic make the most sense,” says Jared Berger, the director of merchandising for TYR. “But a simple smoke color tint can also be used to help reduce the sun’s glare. Polarized completely eliminates the sun’s glare and protects the eyes from harmful rays.”

Berger adds that although clear lenses make most sense for indoor swimmers, many competitive swimmers prefer a mirrored (gold or silver) lens “so their opponents don’t see their eyes.”

Goggle colors and their effects in the water

  • Mirrored: Help reduce glare and brightness
  • Clear: No change at all, best for indoor pools
  • Amber: Best for indoor and flat light scenarios
  • Smoke: Reduces overall brightness and light that reaches the eye
  • Blue: Best for reducing surface glare, use light blue for indoors and dark blue outdoors
  • Red: Enhances contrast, best for medium and low light
  • Pink: Great contrast against backgrounds in outdoor pools
  • Green: Minimal light reduction, best for indoors

Both ROKA and TYR constantly test their lenses. ROKA’s SPCTRM range of lens colors leverages science and real-world athlete testing.

TYR’s Special Ops 3.0 is a multi-purpose lens engineered with triathletes and open water swimmers who encounter changing conditions in mind.

“All Special Ops 3.0 goggles are packed with a range of state-of-the-art features including speed adjust technology, embedded anti-fog and wide peripheral range,” Berger says.

The Special Ops 3.0 goggles are built with polarized lenses that provide clarity, optical precision, and comfort by filtering out 99.9 percent of the surface glare that causes eye fatigue. In addition, every pair is equipped with durable, hypoallergenic Durafit silicone gaskets that provide a comfortable, watertight seal.

For those who have visual impairments, some manufacturers have goggles that have replaceable diopters, but it’s best to visit your eye doctor to determine which lens works best. Speedo carries prescription goggles with a range of diopters from -1.5 to -8.0

So, before you head to the store or online to buy goggles, want to know which is the most popular lens? Well, that differs with each manufacturer. TYR says Smoke is their most-bought lens, while ROKA says its most popular tints are Amber and Cobalt mirrored lenses.

This chart for goggle colors can help determine which lens or tint could be right for you.

Looking for more great information about swimming? Check out our Swimming 101 guide featuring swimming pool and stroke basics, how to start swim training as an adult, and more.


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