You would think that one of the few positives of a cloudy, overcast day is that there’s no need to wear sunglasses. After all, there’s no visible sun, no direct sunlight in your eyes, no glare. Unfortunately, as we all know, this isn’t true. We can feel the effects of the sun even when we cannot see it. It’s there, behind the clouds, and they cast off a filtered haze that still bothers our eyes. The UV light projected by the sun is also present, and is just as damaging to our eyes on a cloudy day as it is on a bright, sunny one.
The Best Lens Color for Overcast Days
So when lens color is best to deal with this type of light? The standard dark gray/dark brown, designed for protection against bright, direct sunlight, blocks out too much light, making everything too dark. What’s required is a lighter color that blocks hazy, filtered light without screening out so much of it that one cannot see clearly.
That color is anything in neighborhood of the yellow family – very light brown to amber to yellow to orange to orange-red. The reason is because overcast days create a lot of “blue light,” light from the bluish stage of the light spectrum. Yellow is the opposing light filter and ideal for the blue light of hazy, cloudy days. Yellow or amber will provide optimum blockage of UV rays from blue light, as well.
Because they’re so good at filtering out blue light, yellow lenses have an added benefit in low-light conditions: visual acuity and contrast will be noticeably sharpened. Blue light often creates a dull, hazy aura, and with a yellow lens to filter it out while still taking advantage of every bit of available incoming light, vision will seem brighter and clearer. Here’s a look at some of the filtering properties of light brown/amber lenses and yellow/orange/reddish-orange lenses:
- Light Brown/Amber – An excellent choice for all-around vision enhancement and glare reduction in moderately low-light conditions. Brown improves contrast and enhances depth perception. It’s especially good at filtering out diffused light, so works well on days when cloud cover is present but not constant. If the sun is peeking in and out of clouds, this is the ideal color choice. Light brown and amber are great for outdoor activities and sports in this type of weather, but if the sun wins over and cloud cover clears, you may want to switch to a darker brown or gray.
- Yellow/Orange/Reddish-Orange – Nothing improves contrast as much and as sharply as yellow, making it a great choice for heavily overcast days, where a lack of direct light makes everything blend into a dreary, monochrome haze. With yellow it will be easier to differentiate foreground objects from their background. Yellow is the best color to bring out the available light in extremely low-light conditions. If light conditions improve and glare becomes stronger, orange or reddish-orange will block the additional sunlight while still offering some level of contrast improvement.
It’s important to be mindful of the fact that just because yellowish color tints are great at drawing out light in low-light conditions, they do not enhance light conditions when the sun sets. As with any other color tint, yellow lenses are not recommended for nighttime driving.