Tajima-Direct.com, the world’s leader in polarized lens technology, discusses customized prescription lens solutions with former Melges 24 World Champion Brian Porter.
“I’ve been wearing glasses my entire life,” says former Rolex US Sailor of the Year, Melges 24 World Champion and perennial Scow Champion, Brian Porter. “I have a relatively strong correction requirement and for the past 15 years have needed readers…or progressive prescription lenses. I’ve also tried every solution out there including contacts which were a struggle for me while racing. When I started to lose my up-close vision, contacts became even more of a challenge for me. Needing multifocal lenses only complicated my vision problems and compounded my frustration,” continued Porter.
Progressive prescription lenses are no line multifocal lenses that correct for distance in the top portion of the lens, then begin to transition into various strengths of magnification for intermediate and near vision in the lower portion of the lens. Approximately 90% of all adults will require some form of reading lenses for effective near vision by the time we reach 45-50 years old. Progressive lens technology can be challenging for some to adapt to, particularly with active lifestyles or hi-performance sports activities.
In preparation for the 2022 Melges 24 Worlds held in big breeze and ocean swells off Ft Lauderdale, Porter knew he needed an improved all-purpose polarized prescription lens solution. He contacted long time friend, polarized lens developer and co-founder of Tajima-Direct.com Steve Rosenberg about his issues and needs. He wanted to wear performance, wrapped sunglass frames on the water for protection from the elements in the big breeze and wet conditions. He wanted to enjoy the superior vision of Tajima’s polarized lens technology in prescription lenses on the water – where his stated demands were sharp vision for distance and up close in a modern progressive lens design that would seamlessly allow him to visually move from distance viewing (eyes up out of the boat), to cockpit, to mast instruments, to his watch – while allowing his eyes to dart and focus on various targets at-will with accuracy and comfort.
Porter finished 6th earlier this month at the world championship, this time wearing Tajima’s polarized prescription progressive lens technology and “couldn’t have been happier!” He sat down with Rosenberg after the championship to discuss his experience and racing in “the best lens technology I’ve ever worn – bar none!”
Tajima Direct: We’ve known each other a few decades from our days competing. Both of us have always needed corrective lenses when sailing and relied on contacts with polarized sunglasses for further protection. Since I always struggled to find solutions to meet my own vision and racing need with products on the open market, I decided to start developing better technologies myself, believing others could also benefit if I was successful. You’ve been one of those beneficiaries. Tell us a little bit about your vision requirements and the various products and techniques you’ve tried over the years, and which Tajima Rx lenses you’re wearing now.
Brian Porter: I’m near-sighted and have been since I can remember. Which means I could see near, but not far. I have to wear glasses or corrective lenses to do most anything. Then, when I hit 45 or so, like most of us, I started to lose my near, up-close vision, too. In fact, wearing my single vision corrective lenses – or contacts corrected for distance – made my ability to read my watch or course chart, anything near, virtually impossible. Enter progressive lenses for me…no-line multifocal lenses that corrected for distance, intermediate and near vision. But whoa, not the easiest to get used to…but a necessity I did get used to eventually in my clear everyday glasses. But for sailing, I continued to have challenges, which kept me continually seeking better options. I tried contacts which corrected for my distance, but I couldn’t see anything up close. Then they’d be drying up or rotating off-axis in big breeze and wet conditions…I hated contacts! When we did some training in Ft Lauderdale last fall preparing for the upcoming worlds and realized the big waves and wind were going to require me to have great eye protection – and I love your polarized lens technology – that’s when I called you to discuss my options. You explained your lens designs, what progressive lens technology would work best for me, why, and then made tint and mirror recommendations based on my needs and feedback I provided. What a difference when I put them on right out of the box!
TD: Many people have always had a hard time wearing Prescription Progressive lenses on active or physical race boats. What’s making the difference for you this time and why?
BP: Well, that’s it, exactly. I’ve struggled in the past to feel comfortable in progressive lenses racing. I wear them in my daily clear lenses, but it wasn’t until we fully discussed what I wanted racing – you can relate cause you’re one of us. You then put me into your top shelf, most accommodating progressive lens design with some slight adjustments to my Seg Height so the reading zones don’t impair or disrupt my eye movement. They were perfect! I don’t have any issues reading my compass, reading my mast instruments, quick looks in the cockpit and of course, sharp, vivid distance vision for reading breeze, wind fields and identifying on-course competitors and fleet dynamics. I’ve learned how complicated progressive lens designs are. You’ve helped me understand what it seems like most eye doctors don’t account for – an active lifestyle and the difference between every day clear lens progressive measurements and data points for computer work and daily life, and then the adjustments that can be made for outdoor active use with sun lenses. Your approach seems to be that different tasks require different set ups or adjustments – just like sailing and how we approach boat/rig/sail/mode set up – to achieve maximum visual comfort and performance!
TD: You just completed another Melges 24 world championship. This time in mostly big breeze and swells off Ft. Lauderdale, FL finishing sixth with your sons crewing for you. They bought new Tajima polarized lenses for their frames, while you ordered a couple different prescription polarized lens tints and mirror finishes that were custom-made to your progressive prescription, then custom-cut and mounted into your own wrapped sunglass frames. Did you have a lens color preference or switch between certain tints for certain conditions during the event and why?
BP: Indeed! I wanted a sharp, yet relatively dark tint lens for the bright sunny days in Lauderdale and a contrast, color saturation lens for overcast, rainy or flat light days. I went with the Gray 15 Blue Mirror for bright days and the Brown 15 Green mirror for flat light. The were just stellar…exactly what I was hoping for! We had bright sun the entire regatta so I ended up running the Blue Mirror every day. But I also took the Brown Green Mirror lenses out each day as a back-up and if the light did go flat the Brown Green Mirror really seems to knock down glare and bring texture and details to life.
TD: You have a relatively strong power correction requirement, and you also wanted your prescription to fit and work well in wrapped sport frames. In the past hi-power corrections couldn’t necessarily be accommodated in an 8 base, or wrap frame. Yet, with our advanced materials and technologies, we we’re able to achieve that for you in your Polarized Prescription Progressive lenses outfitted with mirror treatments for additional light reflection, that also come standard with rear Anti-Reflective treatment, and dual surface water-shedding hydrophobic coatings. How important is coverage and protection from the elements for you when racing, especially in bright, wet, and windy conditions you found in Lauderdale?
BP: Very important! We did have bright, sunny days, big wind, big waves, very wet conditions every day. I wear wrapped frames with a lot of coverage for both eye health and protection from the elements. I need to keep my eyes open and looking forward so I want spray out of my eyes and happy to report I never endured impairment, water or salt build up on the lenses. I never took my sunglasses off my face from the moment we left the dock to back on land. I sprayed them with fresh water after each day, dried and wiped them down with the micro cloths you provide and that’s it. The coatings work well. I had no issues and just really pleased with vision and protection.
TD: Would you have any tips for others seeking a quality pair of prescription polarized lenses for their sailing or suggest elements of your new Tajima Lenses that make the difference for you and your type of racing?
BP: Simply put these have been the very best prescription lenses I’ve ever worn – hands down! Sharp vision, accurate depth perception no matter where or what I was looking at allowed me to focus on my racing and tactical decisions, not my glasses or frustrations with my vision. Critical, right! Focus on the job at hand and not distractions. Here’s what I learned this go round with you…like any area where top performance is required and you’re not an expert – or in most cases with glasses, the discussion can be way above us – go to the expert. In this case, an expert who’s a racer like me, has vision correction requirements like me, and develops and builds the best lens technology available. Not just polarized lens technology, but prescription progressive polarized lens technology. You took my feedback and my needs into consideration and customized polarized prescription lenses for me – for my needs – that work perfectly. The service that went along with this technology was second to none. I couldn’t be happier with my lens purchases!
Tajima Direct has been a pioneer in superior polarized lens technology and modern prescription lens solutions utilizing digital lens design technology with specialized techniques for patient comfort and adaptation. Whether it’s hi-power prescription lens correction, wrapped sport frames, or progressive prescription lens technology – or all of the above in Porter’s case – Tajima Direct has customized lens solutions for your everyday life, along with advanced technologies for your active sport life.