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This summer will be a rainbow of colors – definitely when it comes to sunglasses. "High fashion style currently goes for large and colorful," says Paul Rottler, an optician who operates some fifty optician's shops throughout Germany. "Large sunglasses in noticeable, dominant colors are the style of the season. That includes lenses with green, red or orange-yellow mirrored surfaces, even blue. These aren't pastels, but bold colors that actually make a statement." They say, 'hello, here I am and I am looking forward to summer.' In addition to the loud models, cool hasn't gone out of style: "Classic black sunglasses are still in demand, and I don't believe that will change." According to Rottler, panto glasses in the style of the 1940s, cat eye frames with classic drop-shaped lenses and aviator shapes are this year's preferred choices. The summer 2015 trends favor round shapes over angles and delicate features over chunky ones. Some rules apply regardless of style–sunglasses have to provide effective protection against UV light and despite all their elegance must be sturdy enough to avoid health damage or unnecessary costs.
That represents a special challenge for manufacturers of sunglasses. "Sunglasses have to withstand enormous stresses, which is a major concern," explains Rottler. Heat, sand, dust, creams–sunglasses are exposed to a lot. "Let's take the extreme example of leaving your sunglasses on the black dashboard of your car below the windshield. Temperatures can easily reach 60 degrees Celsius or more, which separates the wheat from the chaff." As the master optician has had to learn, glasses made of plain materials frequently are not able to withstand these conditions. They become brittle, while sunscreen residue may react with the material of plain sunglasses frames, leaving unsightly permanent stains. The picture is different for eyeglass frames and lenses made of high-quality materials such as TROGAMID® CX. "They don't become brittle or hard, but consistently maintain their quality," says the optician. Sunscreen, hair gel or hairspray does not affect the special plastic. "That's a major benefit of this technology,” Rottler notes. "Our high-end material is ideally suited for designers," explains Klaus Hülsmann of Evonik Industries, which manufactures the plastic. "It offers a wide range of creative choices, as the material is flexible yet extremely resistant." Since the substance is also transparent, it can be tinted in any imaginable color. It is flexible, virtually indestructible, and allows for highly delicate processing. "TROGAMID® CX just doesn't create any problems in everyday handling. We like to call it 'trouble-free'," says Hülsmann with a smile. Tests performed by the TÜV Rheinland testing institute have demonstrated just how sturdy the plastic made by Evonik really is. Some test series involved bouncing steel balls off TROGAMID® lenses–without leaving a trace of damage. Such tests are crucial to determine the breakage safety of lenses, for example during sports, when a ball may hit a pair of glasses. Breaking glass or splintering plastic lenses would be disastrous in that case.
Breakage safety is an important issue for children's sunglasses. "Children should always wear high-quality plastic lenses and plastic eyeglass frames to effectively prevent injuries," advises Dr. Frank Holz, professor and medical director of the Ophthalmology Clinic at Bonn University Hospital. Splinters of real glass could lead to eye damage and temples that break during a fall may cause injury. Caution is advised, as the harm caused by cheap plastic toy sunglasses can do more damage than good. "Toy sunglasses are not sufficient in any case," emphasizes Holz. They become brittle after a short time and the risk of injury increases, which makes high-value plastic materials a good choice here. On the other hand, sunglasses made of plain materials generally do not offer sufficient UV protection, which is essential for children and adults, as the eye expert explains. Even though many people view sunglasses as a fashion accessory, physicians consider them indispensable to maintain ocular health, especially in the summer. "Sunglasses protect the sensitive retinal tissue of the eye, particularly in the presence of intense sunlight," says Holz.
Although sunglasses primarily protect the eyes, they also have to be gentle on the skin. During the summer heat, our faces tend to sweat more than usual, including in places where glasses touch the skin. That requires additional caution with the metallic temples of sunglasses, especially for those with nickel allergies. Even temples and nose pads that are coated with non-allergenic material may become eroded by sweat and release allergenic material, says Berlin dermatologist Dr. Jeanette Eicholtz. "Glasses made of plastic are relatively unproblematic in that regard," she advises. Nickel allergy symptoms include skin rash and itching at the contact points. Even those who are not allergic may notice red skin, particularly in the area of the nose pads. "That tends to be caused by contact pressure, possibly because the glasses weigh a little more," says Eicholtz. Conversely, that means lighter glasses made of non-allergenic TROGAMID® are associated with fewer problems.
Master optician Paul Rottler is enthusiastic about TROGAMID® – and pleased that a growing number of manufacturers use the material for their production of glasses. "We keep a few models such as Porsche Design P‘8592 by Rodenstock in our assortment that have temples made of TROGAMID®. The flexibility is nothing short of impressive," he says. Many of Rottler's customers have their eye on design and are pleased with the combination of high resistance and very low weight, and give preference to stylishly designed sunglasses made of the material.