Forget the contacts...
The Photomatic lens system makes the Response an excellent pair of shades at a reasonable price.
Most people don't think of glasses as an essential piece of riding gear, but get one of those errant tree branches in the face and you'll soon change your line of thinking. When looking for something to look through, there are huge numbers of options to sort though and tons of different models to choose from. After wading through a couple of different offering from different manufacturers we came upon Optic Nerve's Response glasses. What sets the Response apart from many other pairs of shades is the proprietary Photomatic lense system.
Optic Nerve says "Our Photomatic lens automatically adjusts to the changing light conditions to darken or lighten depending on the amount of sunlight or UV exposure. Reaction time is 7 to 10 seconds and the transmission shift is from a Category 1 lens to a Category 3 lens transmission. An advanced crystal is embedded im then lens resin that reacts with the intensity of the sun to create a change. The lens material is Grade A polycarbonate resin for superior impact resistance with 100% UV protection and Focalpoint lens technoloy for class one optical standards."
What does it all mean?
Well, the lenses are specially designed to be thinner near the edges to reduce "prismatic distortion," or distortion caused by the lens beanding light as it comes through the glasses into your eyes. This lets you view everything just as it really is, not distorted by the glasses. The Photomatic lens has the effect of expensive prescription photogray lenses; it will change from a clear, unassuming lens into a dark gray lens that controls sunlight with extreme prejudice. The change is not instantaneous, though. Once you expose the lenses to UV light (very cool feature, they don't change under room lighting, just direct sunlight) it takes about 7 to 10 seconds for the lenses to go from clear to completely darkened. Very cool feature.
Baptism by fire
The real question is how do they fit? Well, since everyone's head is a bit different, it's going to be a case of "your mileage may vary." In our case, however, the Response fit all our testers' noggins pretty well. The well built plastic frame has just the right amount of flex and padding where it counts. The temple pads are well designed and are very comfy after several hours on the head, with no hot spots on the bridge of the nose or over the ears. The lenses cover the eyes and surrounding areas generously without touching the face.
The place these glasses really shine is when they are out in the field and under fire. Even though they are not designed to be worn as “protective” lenses, they are certainly designed to shield the eyes from small trail debris. The wide coverage of the lenses and comfortable feel of the frame allows the glasses to be almost forgotten on the face, at least until they save your eyes from an errant bit of mud or a low hanging branch. The lenses are remarkably scratch resistant and clean up nicely after a long, rough ride, even with just a quick drip of water from a hydration pack and swipe across the jersey sleeve. The substantial ventilation built into the glasses around the lenses keep the glasses clear of condensation, allowing you to clearly see what’s looming in front of you. The Photomatic lenses performed well, and were so muted in their transition that the darkened lenses were hardly noticed until the glasses were removed. Kudos to a smooth transition are certainly in order.
Problems? Well, there’s always a downside to cool technology. One thing we found to be problematic occurred during particularly muddy rides. Lots of dots of mud on the lenses didn’t bother us much. What bothered us was when we were on the move and would wipe away the mud with the back of our hand. The mud would block spots on the lens from UV light, and they would fade back to clear. Imagine wiping off black spots which are obscuring your vision and now for the next 10 seconds you have white spots screwing with your vision. Trippy would be the only way of describing it, really. Other than that we really didn’t find many issues with these glasses at all.
Overall, for the price, it’s hard to beat a pair of glasses with this many features. If you’re looking for non-prescription lenses, this would be a great way to go.
Optic Nerve USA - Website