happy lens cut

Spy Optic Eyewear: Quick Review by Guitar Ted & Grannygear

Recently Grannygear and I have gotten a hold of a couple of models from Spy Optic’s Performance eyewear to check out and also one from their Men’s Sunglasses model line up. The tie that binds all three is a technology that Spy Optic has dubbed “Happy Lens“. We’ll get around to the technology in a minute, but first, lets take a look at the styles and see how Spy Optic describes their purposes before we get into our testing.

spy optic happy lens daft

Spy Optic DAFT

DAFT:MSRP $149.95

Devised for shaving off ounces and seconds, this oversized rimless shield will ensure a hasty line to the podium. An interchangeable Victory lens will give you the advantage you need to run off with both of the podium girls.

  • Built from sturdy, lightweight Grilamid®
  • Interchangeable 7-Base Victory Lens™
  • 100% UV protection
  • Hytrel™ rubber nose pads and temple tips
  • Frame measures: 135-00-125

SCREW: MSRP $139.95-$179.95

spy optic happy lens screw

Spy Optic SCREW

When a Screw feels so good it leaves you longing for more, it’s time for the Screw Over. The same trusted Screw frame features an oversized lens for those looking for a little more coverage. Just one more way you can Screw the system. Comes with the SPY Happy Lens™, the only color and contrast enhancing lens technology that maximizes the transmission of the sun’s “good” rays—while still blocking out its “bad” rays—which studies suggest fosters an uplift in mood and alertness.

  • Available with the SPY Happy Lens™
  • Built from virtually indestructible Grilamid®
  • Scoop® ventilation system
  • Pin hinges
  • Interchangeable 7-Base Victory™ lens
  • 100% UV protection
  • Hytrel™ rubber nose pads and temple tips to ensure a comfortable fit in the wettest conditions
  • FRAME MEASURES: 126-00-125
spy optic happy lens discord

Spy Optic DISCORD

DISCORD: MSRP $109.95-$165.99

As big and bold as the era that inspired it, a little dissension goes a long way in this large scale 80s-inspired piece.

  • Custom-built from high quality Propionate
  • 6-base PC Lenses
  • 100% UV protection
  • Frame Measurements: 57-17-145

 

Happy Lens Technology: So just what is this “Happy Lens” thing all about? The initial impression I had was that this was some cheesy marketing spiel, but if you dig in, there actually is some substance behind the somewhat goofy moniker. It all has to do with the types of radiation the lens blocks and lets pass through along with a higher quality in optics.

The lens starts out with a distortion free optical design dubbed “Arc”. Then from there you get an enhanced color and contrast experience. Cyclists will be interested to know that due to the design Spy Optic claims a rider can discern changes and nuances in terrain better. However; it is the way the lens works with sunlight that really gives the technology the “happy” tag. According to a slew of scientific studies that Spy Optic links to on their page about Happy Lens Science ,you can expect a certain amount of “good” sunlight to reach your eyes and a certain amount of bad light to be blocked which Spy Optic claims will enhance your mood, cause less eye strain and fatigue, and ultimately give you a better sunglasses wearing experience.

spy optic happy lens

Spy Optic glasses with Happy Lens Technology

Guitar Ted’s Impressions: For my part of the review, I chose to try out the Daft model since it is a “rimless” design and looked to have plenty of coverage. When the box arrived I opened it to find another pair of glasses which are the more lifestyle oriented Discord. Both models feature the “Happy Lens” and the Daft came with an extra lens in a lightly tinted amber color, more suitable for cloudy days.

spy optic happy lens I wore the Daft with the darker lens first and the fit is great for my face, which plays well with larger lenses and frames than it does with mid to smaller sized eyewear. If you have a smaller face or don’t like larger lenses, I would shy away from this full coverage example. The lens on the Daft actually wraps around the cheeks and goes slightly above the eyebrows, so it really covers a lot of “facial real estate” . The fit on the bows is really comfortable and these do not wrap back around your head at all. I would say these bows are average in length and above average in comfort.

So, what about all this “Happy Lens” stuff? Well, I did notice immediately that the Happy Lens does amp up the contrast and color saturation when you look through them. Much like a post-processing app for digital imagery. That’s what it reminded me of. The sky looks bluer, the details jump out a bit more. So, at least that part did play out in my experience. On longer rides in bright sunlight, I didn’t experience any eye fatigue or notice any negative traits in the way I saw things. I wouldn’t expect to either. Not at this price point. The objects I focused on were crisp and detailed, so the lenses are of a higher quality. Maybe as well as “the industry leader” in this field? Maybe. Pretty close, I would say. I liked the way that I had total access to peripheral vision without obstructions by a rimmed lens. This is important especially on the roadways.

The Daft also had the optional lenses. I tried these and swapping out lenses was easily done. The amber colored lenses actually work well for me on night time rides, so this has been a surprise plus for these. They also work great on cloudy days, as I would expect.

spy optic happy lensThe Discord is a fun, retro inspired look that again fits my larger face well. It also has the Happy Lens technology, but honestly, this was less noticeable in terms of effect when I wore them. Still, they are a good fashionable set of glasses that I have been using for driving and just kicking around. I did use them for a ride on gravel roads and found them to be okay, but the style isn’t really comfortable for cycling uses for longer periods. I didn’t expect that they would be, but this is a test! 🙂

Grannygear’s Impressions:  I was walking through Sea Otter 2013 when I came by the Spy Optics booth.  I happened to be wearing a favorite pair of eye wear at the time that was made by Spy, so I struck up a conversation where I told them how much I enjoyed the glasses I was wearing that day.  They asked me if I had tried the new “Happy Lens” and I had not even heard of it.  The name stuck me as kind of funny though, but I grabbed a set they handed me and swapped out with the ones I had been wearing there all week.  It was a pretty bright day, full sun and blue skies.  The tint of the two lenses were pretty comparable; both were a brownish shade that I really like for good color and contrast, so I did not not really expect much change.  But what happened was very interesting and quite unexpected.  Have you ever been doing something where you realize you are holding a part of your body in tension…maybe your shoulders during a ride or your neck as you are trying to relax and when you become aware of the tension, you consciously ‘let go’ and feel your body ‘sigh’ a bit and relax.  Well, that was what happened to my eyes when I slid into the Happy Lens.  It was the oddest thing, like I was holding my eyes and brow in tension and then it just relaxed a bit.  Both lenses were dark, so it was not a tint level issue either.  It was an automatic, discernible change that was repeatable.  My eyes did indeed feel happier with that lens.  Fascinating.

spy happy lens screwSo when I received two sets of glasses, one being the Screw and the other the Discord, both with the Happy Lens, I wondered if I would still get that response I first experienced.  So now, after many hours of use, both with the Screw on MTB and road rides lasting many hours, and with the Discord for driving cars and just kicking around, I have some strong impressions.  Like GT, I have found the clarity of the lens to be top notch.  I really do feel like I see better through them.  The Screw has been one of the best fitting pieces of technical eyewear I have worn and even after hours in the saddle, they have never bothered me in that crush zone above and behind the ear where helmet and head-wrap all combine for equal space.  They do not slide down the nose either and never pinch, poke or annoy.  Total win.  I do not have the same size noggin as GT does, so my more medium sized face fit well with the Screw but maybe less so with the Discord.  By the way, the Discord actually was annoying to drive a car with as the thick and wide frame always seemed to give me a blind spot when I was looking over my shoulder for lane changes, etc.

The Happy Lens does leave me with less tension over long exposure to the sunlight.  I have very light sensitive eyes so I am a hard core sunglass wearer.  I have another pair of glasses from another company that I would consider high quality as well.  They look more like the ones Neo wore in The Matrix than a set of riding glasses, so I keep them in my car for driving.  I really like those glasses, but after wearing the Discord, I put them on and immediately noticed the harshness (for lack of a better word) of the light hitting my eyes.  Huh.

The Discord is not my style, actually.  When JeffJ saw them, he said, “Hey, Hobo Kelly!”.  Look it up, young folks.  When I wear them, I feel like I need to have my cap on sideways and be sporting ink, but that is just me.

Conclusions: GT – The value in these glasses is in the fact that they have great optical qualities along with the color enhancement and enhancement in details for me. This particular model, the Daft, is really well suited to mountain biking and road riding as well. The rimless design with the full coverage is really appreciated. Be aware that these may not be suited to smaller faces, but if you are a person that has always been on the lookout for a fine pair of sunglasses to fit your larger face, these come highly recommended. The Happy Lens? Okay, maybe. Honestly, for this price point, I feel that any eyewear you buy shouldn’t be fatiguing your eyes nor letting in any “bad rays”. I think these Spy Optic glasses do that, but whether or not I am a happier person for that, or from just riding a bike is a question that is a valid one to consider. Regardless, I give these glasses high marks and I would recommend the Daft for anyone looking for a great pair of sunglasses for cycling on or off pavement.

Grannygear –  I agree with GT on the optical quality and I love the Happy Bronze tint.  I will go a bit farther and say that something is going on with the Happy Lens that my eyes really appreciate, as my initial experience at Sea Otter has continued through the testing time.

Note: Spy Optics sent over the eyewear samples for test/review at no charge. We were not paid, nor bribed for this review and we strive to give our honest thoughts and views throughout.