It all started with motocross grips. Oakley discovered a material that actually increased in grip, as it got wet. In a motocross race, this turned out to be an incredibly useful property. After moving on to improving goggles technology, Oakley applied what they had learned to create sunglasses. Eventually, they moved on to prescription glasses. Oakley named the material Unobtainium (allegedly due to the number of watertight patents they hold on the material).
In optical design, they used Unobtainium on the sleeves of their glasses. This meant that as a person perspired, their eyewear would grip more tightly.
Because of this extra grip they had over their competitors, Oakley were able to use another technology: Three Point Fit. This relates to how the glasses sit on the face, making only three points of contact (the nose, and one each side of the head). This eliminates the need for curved stems that can uncomfortably wrap around the back of the ear.
Oakley Prescription frames can be made from a variety of materials depending on the required properties. Titanium features heavily, especially in their higher-end models. This is thanks to a high strength-to-weight ratio, as well excellent flexibility. Oakley have also developed their own alloy, called C5 Alloy. This is made up of five different metals and is intended to imitate titanium’s lightweight and high strength credentials. Where the style calls for it, Oakley uses two other materials for frame construction: acetate and ‘O Matter’. O Matter is considered to be one of Oakley’s own creations, but in reality it is simply a high-strength polycarbonate (albeit one that they source from the highest quality manufacturer possible). Acetate tends to be used on certain glasses from their Lifestyle range, as it allows heat moulding to give a custom fit.
Make an Impact
Of course, Oakley have put everything they have learned from sunglasses lenses into their prescription lenses. Their impact protection complies with ANSI Z87.1, an American standard in optical impact protection. In order to test this, they carry out two controlled tests. The first is to drop a steel spike weighing 500 g onto the lens, from just over four feet. They then fire a ball bearing directly at the lens at 102 mph. These tests are designed to simulate real life impacts. Examples include stones flying up from the road whilst cycling, or getting hit by a cricket ball. In order to pass, the glasses must not breach and no material can come into contact with the ‘eye’.
Optical clarity and impact protection are what Oakley eye wear is all about. If buying glasses purely on performance alone, there is little reason to go elsewhere.