First Look: Oakley PRIZM Lenses

Oakley Flak Jackets with the new PRIZM TR22 lenses, now available through the Standard Issue program for first responders.

Oakley Flak Jackets with the new PRIZM TR22 lenses, now available through the Standard Issue program for first responders.

For the better part of the past 20 years, I have been a big fan of Oakley eyewear for use on and off the range. They aren’t cheap, but good equipment is rarely inexpensive. Luckily for first responders or military, the price of much of the Oakley lineup is significantly reduced through their Standard Issue program. Those who prefer glass lenses look elsewhere, but I like polycarbonate lenses as the weight of glass tends to give me a headache over time. Oakley glasses are designed to be optically correct and offer industry leading protection against UV and debris. The only downside to polycarbonate lenses are that they scratch more easily than glass, so routine handling should be done with care.

Around the beginning of this year, Oakley released their line of PRIZM lenses, which were advertised to enhance contrast for various activities, including golf and shooting. In the past, I had preferred the VR28 lenses for high contrast, and eventually migrated to Positive Red Iridium, which also has a fancy reflective red coating. Having been happy with the Positive Red lenses, I didn’t rush to go out to try the new PRIZM offerings.

Several months ago, I needed some replacement nose pieces and random parts for my Flak Jackets. Curiosity got the better of me so I added a set of PRIZM TR22 lenses to my online shopping cart. Since gets pretty bright in the Southern California sun, so I opted for the lower light transmission of the TR22 over the other PRIZM offerings.

Oakley advertises the PRIZM lenses to enhance contrast without increasing eye strain. The TR22 and TR45 series were specifically designed for shooting, with identifying steel and cardboard targets in mind. The TR22 has 22% light transmission and the TR45 lets in a bit more light at 45% transmission. The lenses also feature an anti-fog coating.

The VR28 lenses I used to wear did a great job of enhancing contrast while decreasing light transmission. The only downside, was that I did experience some eye fatigue after wearing them for several hours. I still occasionally wear the Positive Red lenses, which I can best describe these as similar to just a grey pair of lenses with enhanced contrast. I’ve looked through more than a few lenses in my lifetime, so I fully expected the PRIZM lenses to be more hype than performance, despite my inherent love for anything with the familiar “O” stamped on it.

Flak Jacket XLJ with Prizm T22 lenses

Flak Jacket XLJ with Prizm T22 lenses

When the lenses arrived, I snapped them into my Flak Jacket frames and took a walk outside. I immediately noticed that colors appeared brighter and objects were clearer, even than with the Positive Red lenses. This didn’t surprise me that much as the tint was a bit closer to an amber color than the gray tint of the PR lenses. What I wanted to see was if I would tire of these lenses after wearing them for a couple of long days on the range. I wore them everyday for a week, and took them on a week long vacation over the summer. No eye strain; no fatigue. Suffice it to say, these are now my favorite pair of sunglasses.

Sunglasses and lenses are a very personal choice, and everyone has different preferences. But anyone who knows Oakley also knows they make quality lenses with industry leading impact protection and distortion free clarity. If you are military or a first-responder, be sure to check out the Oakley Standard Issue program, which offers generous discounts to those who qualify. Replacement lenses are available for many of my favorite frames, so this may be an economical way for you to check out the new PRIZM offerings.

In the meantime, check out this video on Oakley’s impact protection.

This entry was posted in Gear, Review by Tim Lau. Bookmark the permalink.

About Tim Lau

Tim Lau has over a decade of experience as an end user, armorer and instructor. He has worked for several well known firearms training organizations, and holds multiple firearms instructor certifications. He owns and operates 10-8 Consulting, LLC, which provides industry consulting services as well as marksmanship and specialized firearms training to qualified civilian, law enforcement and military personnel.

6 thoughts on “First Look: Oakley PRIZM Lenses

  1. In repeated side by side comparisons, I find that Maui Jim glasses are far superior to Oakleys. The fact that you got a headache should be a clue.
    I do like Oakley photosensitive glasses for cycling in difficult lighting, but absolutely not for shooting sports, or anything that requires intense concentration.
    Unfortunately, you’re talking some real money when you buy MJs.

    • Maui Jims are excellent glasses. Also, understand the nature of very high contrast lenses is eye fatigue due to the very contrast we seek. The PRIZM menses find a balance between contrast and fatigue. Also, take a look at the video below to see how Maui Jim sunglasses and others fare in various impact tests.

  2. Thanks for the video, the contrast is very graphic. I’ll give the Oakleys a try. I almost exclusively wear the MJs while driving, cycling, and on the water in Hawaii. Obviously contra indicated for the range.
    If you spend a lot of time at ranges, you’re likely going to get hit with something, at least in my experience.

    • Agreed. Especially if you shoot any steel. I find that selecting the proper lens tint choice for the application at hand is key. Pick the wrong one and you will sacrifice in contrast or fatigue. Oakley’s choices are mind boggling so it took me a while to find what works for me.

  3. Polarized vs. non-Polarized lenses is an issue worthy of some study and thought. I have found that dark Polarized lenses don’t play well with some windshield glass.

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