By Loraine Burger, FireRescue1 staff
When the owner of Lx Polarized Optics started making sunglasses, it wasn't his intention to market toward first responders. In fact, working out of Southern California, Steve Brillhart's original audience was surfers.
But when the firefighters of Long Beach caught wind of his product, they couldn't get enough of it; the glasses were seemingly a perfect fit for first responders.
Lx Polarized Optics frames are made of acetate, a textile fiber made in sheets, that allows the frames to be stronger, more flexible, glossier, and more durable than glasses made from an injection mold, the company says.
The polarized lenses — literally film licensed out by Polaroid — filter the glare caused by the sun, water and reflective surfaces, reducing the strain on one's eyes caused by constant squinting.
Unlike most sunglasses that have the polarized film on the outside where it can weather, these sunglasses have a film in between two thin lenses in order to keep the film from degrading over time.
Brillhart considers his style of glasses a "cross between sport and fashion." They don't offer blade-like lenses similar to cyclists' glasses, and a stand-out logo is the last of his priorities.
"Police wear glasses all day. That's our niche — guys with jobs who want a good pair of sunglasses. If you’re looking for Gucci, then you’re not in the right place," Brillhart said.
Above all, the glasses have to fit. The glasses feature a wider nose bridge, so that they ride low, fit well and don't pinch. Every pair has spring hinges, making them less likely to break.
Lx's polycarbonate glasses start at $80, shipping included, and glass lenses start at $100.
"The Long Beach Fire Department was a great market," Brillhart said. "The problem is, they don't order more because the glasses never break."