Patent application title: Swimming goggles
Richard T. Stone (Minneapolis, MN, US)
IPC8 Class: AA63B3300FI
Class name: For wearer's head eye shields (e.g., hoodwinks or blinds, etc.) goggles
Publication date: 2011-03-17
Patent application number: 20110061153
Swimming goggles that are shaped by approximately profiling the goggles
to the swimmer's head resulting in the goggles having a minimal tendency
to be pulled off or pulled ajar from the swimmer's head by hydrodynamic
forces while exhibiting minimal hydrodynamic drag. Optical arrays molded
into the lenses of the goggles permit normal vision both underwater and
above the water.
1. A lens for swimming and diving goggles comprising a lens structure
having an exterior surface and a viewing region, said lens structure
having an optical array in said exterior surface of said viewing region
of said lens, said optical array having a refractive surface and a return
2. The lens of claim 1, wherein said optical array comprises at least two refractive surfaces and wherein said at least two refractive surfaces are connected by said return surface.
3. The lens of claim 1, wherein said exterior surface of said lens structure includes an inner surface and an outer surface and wherein said optical array is in said inner surface or said outer surface.
4. The lens of claim 3, wherein said optical array is disposed in said inner surface and wherein said refractive surface of said optical array includes optical correction.
5. The lens of claim 3, wherein said optical array is disposed in said inner surface and wherein said refractive surface of said optical array includes spherical correction.
6. The lens of claim 3, wherein said optical array is disposed in both said inner surface and said outer surface of said lens.
7. The lens of claim 1, wherein said lens is constructed to provide an approximately hydrodynamically streamlined profile with respect to the eye of a wearer.
8. The lens of claim 1, wherein a pair of said lenses are provided and constructed and arranged to be mounted into swimming and diving goggles having means to position said lenses in an approximately hydrodynamically streamlined profile with respect to the eyes of a wearer.
9. The lens of claim 8, wherein said means to position said lenses comprises a pair of lens frame members and a head strap to secure said goggles to a swimmer.
10. The lens of claim 8, wherein said goggles define an outer surface with respect to a wearer's face and forms an approximately hydrodynamically streamlined profile structure.
11. The lens of claim 3, wherein said refractive surfaces are generally spatially parallel to each other.
12. The lens of claim 11, wherein said inner refractive surfaces are generally spatially parallel to each other and wherein said outer refractive surfaces are generally spatially parallel to each other.
13. The lens of claim 2, wherein at least one said return surface has a surface treatment selected from the group of surface treatments consisting of blackened, opaqued and dulled surfaces.
14. The lens of claim 2, wherein adjacent refractive surfaces differ by less than 15 degrees with respect to each other.
15. The lens of claim 14, wherein said adjacent refractive surfaces differ by less than 5 degrees with respect to each other.
16. The lens of claim 1, wherein said refractive surfaces are piecewise smooth.
17. The lens of claim 8, wherein said swimming and diving goggles includes a pressure profile device, wherein said pressure profile device is selected from the group of pressure profile devices consisting of slats, flaps, spoilers and hydrofoils.
18. Swimming and diving goggles having lenses comprising: a) a pair of lenses having hydrodynamically streamlined outer surfaces with respect to the face of the wearer in the area adjacent to the eyes; b) said lenses having lateral and medial lens sections having a thickness which becomes progressively thicker in said medial section as compared to said lateral section.
19. The swimming and diving goggles of claim 18, wherein said lenses each have a bifocal region of uniform thickness for viewing when air is adjacent to said outer surface of said lens.
20. Swimming and diving goggles having an open goggle design wherein water is adjacent to the eyes of a wearer when underwater and wherein air is adjacent to the eyes of a wearer when above water, said goggles comprising: a. a frame having lenses with hydrodynamically streamlined outer lens surfaces with respect to the face of the wearer in the area adjacent to the eyes; and b. said lenses being hollow and gas filled, said lenses further having a convex outer surface and a concave inner surface.
 This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent
Application Ser. No. 61/276,470, having the filing date of Sep. 12, 2009.
 Swimming goggles that exhibit a hydrodynamically streamlined profile and provide for normal vision both underwater and above water.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention relates generally to swimming goggles for covering and protecting the eyes of a swimmer while enhancing the swimmer's vision. In particular this invention relates to swimming goggles that geometrically approximate a hydrodynamically streamlined profile with respect to the swimmer's head while simultaneously permitting normal vision when the swimmer's eyes are either above or below the water surface. More particularly, the invention relates to lens structures for swimming and diving goggles.
 Swimming goggles, especially those for competitive swimmers, should provide several functions and exhibit several characteristics. Firstly, the goggles should protect the swimmer's eyes from the irritations of the water. In swimming pools these irritations are caused from chemical disinfectants such as chlorine, bromine, or ozone. Additional irritations are caused from incompatible pH levels, ionic concentrations, and chemical buffers in the pool water. Secondly, goggles should provide for normal vision both underwater and above water. Thirdly, the goggles should perform these functions without requiring the swimmer to alter his or her diving entry into the pool for fear of the goggles being displaced from the swimmer's head by hydrodynamic forces and moments. Fourthly, the goggles preferably exhibit no more hydrodynamic drag than if the swimmer were swimming without goggles. Prior art goggles have failed to satisfy all of these functions and characteristics.
 Swimming goggles have been made to match a section of a hydrodynamically streamlined contour to the face. (For example, see FIG. 1.) Shaping goggles this way permits a swimmer to dive into the pool, turn and push off from walls, and swim with minimal concern that the goggles might be pulled off or pulled ajar due to hydrodynamic forces and moments. Additionally, the hydrodynamic drag of such goggles is less than that for coplanar lens swimming goggles, an advantage for competitive swimmers. The deficiency of these types of prior art goggles is that underwater binocular-like viewing is not normal. Incoming parallel optical rays diverge as they refract through the hydrodynamically streamlined lenses. (For example, see FIG. 2.) This requires that the swimmer's eyes point in convergent directions to attain binocular focus while viewing underwater; the swimmer must adjust his or her eyes in a cross-eyed orientation to attain binocular vision. It is difficult to rapidly toggle back and forth from a cross-eyed orientation for underwater binocular viewing to a straight-ahead orientation for above water binocular viewing. Double images are observed when viewing underwater with both eyes looking straight ahead. Using these prior art goggles may cause headache, vertigo, or induce nausea.
 Two characteristics are required for providing normal vision when wearing swimming goggles. Firstly, if two optical rays are parallel as they enter the lenses of the goggles with one ray on a trajectory to enter the left pupil and the other ray on a trajectory to enter the right pupil, then they shall also be approximately parallel after both rays pass through the lenses of the goggles. Secondly, that objects focus approximately on the retina when viewing through the lenses of the goggles in a manner similar to the human eye when viewing in air without goggles.
 Keeping optical rays parallel as they pass through the left and right lenses of goggles has been accomplished in the prior art in several ways. One technique disclosed by Bengtson et al., U.S. Pat. No. 4,051,557, utilizes coplanar sections of plastic or glass as part of the right and left lenses. Widenor, U.S. Pat. No. 3,027,562, discloses a flat section of plastic in front of the eyes which then curves in the peripheral region of viewing outside of binocular vision. Another technique, disclosed by Hagan, U.S. Pat. No. 3,672,750, uses a section of a sphere as the outer surface of each uniform thickness lens with the radius of curvature centered within each eye. Here, any axis through the center of the pupil is always normal to the lens surface regardless of the angle of the eye. Flory, U.S. Pat. No. 5,313,671, discloses use of a section of a cylinder instead of a sphere. These techniques preclude matching the contour of the face with a goggle that is minimally intrusive into the free stream of water such as shown in FIG. 1.
 Swimming goggles of the prior art may also add optical corrections similar to those found in corrective prescription glasses to reduce the effects of visual deficiencies such as myopia, hypermetropia, and astigmatism. For coplanar lenses these corrections are often added to each of the inner lens surfaces with the outer surface of each lens remaining flat. Most commonly offered are simple spherical corrections in whole or half diopter steps.
 Reducing the tendency of normal vision goggles from being pulled off or ajar has been addressed by the prior art in several ways. Drew, U.S. Pat. No. 4,279,039, discloses attaching coplanar lens goggles directly to the swim cap. Van Atta et al., U.S. Pat. No. 7,475,435, discloses reducing coplanar lens size. Fukasaw, U.S. Pat. No. 6,996,857, discloses adding fillets to the protruding sections of coplanar lens goggles.
 Prior art refinements enhancing normal vision include blackening whole sections of the viewing field as disclosed by Yokota, U.S. Pat. No. 7,165,837. Wick, U.S. Pat. No. 2,008,530, discloses allowing water to directly contact the eyes while using hollow lenses to effect normal vision underwater.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention relates to swimming goggles having lenses with outer surfaces which geometrically approximate a portion of a hydrodynamically streamlined profile while simultaneously providing for normal vision both above and below the water.
 The present invention comprises swimming goggles with an optical array formed into both the inner and outer surfaces of the lenses of the goggles. The outer optical arrays have two functions. Firstly, the outer surfaces of the outer optical arrays geometrically approximate a portion of a hydrodynamically streamlined profile. Secondly, outer arrays optically approximate the outer surface of an optically appropriate lens section such as coplanar lenses. The inner array optically approximates the inner surface of an optically appropriate lens section without geometrically conflicting with human anatomy.
 Goggles of this invention are less prone to being pulled off or pulled ajar from a swimmer's head by hydrodynamic forces or moments, particularly during a diving entry into the water. They also exhibit reduced hydrodynamic drag compared to other goggles that provide for normal vision. This is true both for the unsteady and for the steady hydrodynamic environments.
 These and other benefits of this invention will become apparent from the following description by reference to the drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 is a perspective view of prior art goggles.
 FIG. 2 is a top sectioned view of the prior art goggles of FIG. 1;
 FIG. 3 is another perspective view of prior art goggles;
 FIG. 4 is a sectioned view of prior art goggles wherein each lens is a spherical or cylindrical section with a center of radius within the eye;
 FIG. 5 is a perspective view of an embodiment of goggles of the present invention;
 FIG. 6 is a top sectioned view of the goggles of FIG. 5;
 FIG. 7 is another sectioned view of the goggles of FIG. 5;
 FIG. 8 is a sectioned side view showing another embodiment of the hydrodynamically streamlined goggles of the present invention;
 FIG. 9 is a sectioned view of another embodiment of the hydrodynamically streamlined goggles of the invention;
 FIG. 10 is a perspective view of goggles of the invention having an alternative optical array pattern;
 FIG. 11 is a sectioned view of another embodiment of the goggles of the invention;
 FIG. 12 is a sectioned side view showing outer contour lines through this section of the goggle lenses of the instant invention; and
 FIG. 13 is a sectioned view of another embodiment of the lenses for the goggles of the invention that do not have air adjacent to the wearer's eyes while underwater.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
 FIGS. 1-4 show prior art goggles and which are discussed in the Background of the Invention. The present invention relates to lenses which are used in swimming and diving goggles which essentially hold the lenses in position with respect to the eyes and face of the wearer. It is within the purview of the present invention to be used in connection with any means which hold lenses in position.
 Referring to FIG. 5, FIG. 6, and FIG. 7, swimming goggles 10 are shown having lens frames 11, 12, lenses 13, 14, nose bridge 15, head strap 16, and eye seals 17. The lenses are shown having an exterior surface and incorporating optical arrays as part of both the inner surfaces 20, 21 and the outer surfaces 18, 19 of the exterior surfaces of the lenses 13, 14, respectively. Each optical array of goggles 10 consists of refractive surfaces alternating with and congruous with return surfaces. The inner optical array for the right lens 14 consists of refractive surfaces 600 that are generally flat and parallel with each other and are approximately parallel to the inner refractive surfaces 605 of the inner optical array of the left lens 13. The outer refractive surfaces 610 on the right lens 14 are generally flat and also parallel with each other and are approximately parallel to the outer refractive surfaces 615 on the left lens 13. The inner refractive surfaces 600, 605 are not necessarily parallel to the flat outer refractive surfaces 610, 615. For example, as shown in lens 30 in FIG. 8, outer refractive surfaces 31 are parallel to each other but not to inner refractive surfaces 32. The left and right lenses also need not be mirror images of each other. The number of inner refractive surfaces further does not need to be the same as the number of outer refractive surfaces of the lens.
 Light rays, for example 640 and 650, observed by the swimmer both underwater and above water pass through the refractive surfaces 610 and 600, respectively. Light rays that are parallel with each other as they enter the lenses are also parallel with each other after passing through the lenses. This is true both underwater and above the water. This is true both for light rays coming from straight ahead such as 640 and 650, and for light rays coming from the side, as depicted by 770 and 780 in FIG. 7. The light rays 770 and 780 are shown with underwater refraction angles. The direction cosines of optical rays may change as they pass through the lenses of the goggles. However, the change in the direction cosines will be the same for an optical ray that will be entering the right eye as for an optical ray that will be entering the left eye if these two rays are parallel to each other before they enter the lenses. Parallel optical rays remain parallel after passing through the lenses of these goggles.
 The latter description is true when the parallel optical rays are either both underwater or both above water.
 Referring again to FIGS. 5-7, the size of the outer refractive surfaces 610 and the size of the outer return surfaces 630 may be reduced while the number of such surfaces is increased to ensure that the maximum distance between any point on the outer surface and a specified profile 660 is arbitrarily small. Any profile, for example profile 660, may be approximated to any degree of accuracy using only flat and parallel refractive surfaces 615 connected by alternating return surfaces 625.
 Referring to FIG. 9, an embodiment of the swimming goggles is shown and which uses refractive surfaces and return surfaces to mimic the optical properties of the goggles described in FIG. 4. These are similar in concept to the goggle embodiment of FIGS. 5-7, except the embodiment of FIG. 9 approximates the optical properties of spherical or cylindrical lenses and the refractive surfaces of FIG. 9 are not flat or parallel with other.
 The optical arrays as described in the instant invention with respect to the goggle embodiments of FIGS. 5-10 exhibit several characteristics. Each optical array has at least two refractive surfaces. The refraction angle of a light ray passing through a refractive surface may be zero degrees such as when a light ray is normal to the refractive surface. Refractive surfaces are smooth or piecewise smooth, but not necessarily flat. Refractive surfaces are regions of the goggles through which visual images are observed. Adjacent refractive surfaces are connected by return surfaces. The refractive surfaces of these optical arrays differ from two transparent sections of goggles which are adjacent to each other in the prior art in two ways. Firstly, adjacent refractive surfaces are connected by a return surface. Secondly, the outward normals of adjacent refractive surfaces differ by less than 15 degrees, and preferably by less than 5 degrees. For refractive surfaces that are not flat the difference of outward normals between adjacent refractive surfaces is the minimum or minimum limit of differences between outward normals on the adjacent refractive surfaces.
 Referring to FIG. 12, 1210 is a contour line through a hydrodynamically streamlined profile 1220 is a contour line through another useful profile. This profile represented by contour line 1220 will increase drag, but will also increase the inward hydrodynamical force applied to the lenses. This helps keep the goggles in the correct position particularly during a diving entry. The profile illustrated by contour line 1220 does not present corners that stick out into the free stream such as those exhibited by the 4,051,557 goggles, for example, as shown in prior art goggles of FIG. 3.
 Pressure profile devices such as spoilers, airfoils, hydrofoils, flaps, and slats can be appended to the goggle profile to help provide retention of the goggles to the head.
 For ease of plastic injection molding these goggles may be configured to provide for an approximately uniformly thick lens section.
 The refractive surfaces 600, 610 may vary in shape. The outer refractive surfaces 43, 44 may have hexagonal shapes as shown in FIG. 10.
 Optically blackening, opaquing or dulling one or more of the return surfaces 620, 630, 625, and 635 may generate less glare for the swimmer. Blackening or dulling the return surfaces does not restrict the region of view. It only reduces the glare within the region of view.
 Referring to FIG. 11, an embodiment of lenses is shown which exhibits smooth outer surfaces 1100 and 1110 while exhibiting parallel ray performance for some underwater light rays directed towards the pupils of the eyes. The outer surfaces of these goggles may be configured as a hydrodynamically streamlined profile. However, above water light rays do not remain parallel after passing through this section of the lenses. A set of goggles using this technique may incorporate a bifocal configuration permitting normal vision below the surface of the water through the lens sections just described and normal vision through different lens sections when viewing above the water. The inner surface lens sections that exhibit parallel ray performance for some underwater optical rays directed towards the pupils may consist of an optical array instead of a single smooth optical surface 1120 and 1130. The refractive surfaces of these inner optical arrays may consist of surfaces that are not parallel with each other and are not flat.
 Referring to FIG. 13, another embodiment of goggles is shown having lenses 45, 46 and which does not seal air between the lenses of the goggles and the eye. Rather, water is allowed to directly contact the eye when swimming with the eyes underwater. These goggles are intended especially for competition where good visibility coupled with robust tolerance from goggles being pulled ajar during a diving entry into the water are most important. Eye protection from pool water during competition is a lesser concern than during workouts. At least a portion of these lenses are configured to focus underwater images onto the retina of the eye permitting normal vision under water.
 The techniques disclosed in the instant invention are most useful for the region of binocular vision. For peripheral vision outside of the binocular region simple curved sections of clear material that match the desired outer profile may be acceptable.
 Lenses of the present invention may be fabricated from clear or tinted plastic or from clear or tinted glass. Examples of suitable plastics include polycarbonate and acrylic. Eye seals or eye cups may be fabricated from an elastomer or elastomeric foam that minimizes leakage of water into the area adjacent to the eyes. Four materials commonly used for this purpose are chloroprene foam rubber, EPDM, silicone rubber, and plasticized PVC.
 Fabrication and sealing techniques known to those skilled in the art may be used to fabricate a complete set of goggles including a bridge connecting the left and right lenses together and an elastomeric head strap for holding the goggles to the head. Commonly used materials for bridges are polyethylene, polypropylene, polybutylene, acrylic, polycarbonate, polyurethane, plasticized PVC, or elastomers such as silicone rubber, natural rubber, chloroprene rubber, or EPDM. Head straps are commonly constructed from elastomers such as natural rubber including natural latex rubber, chloroprene rubber, EPDM, silicone rubber, or thermoplastic polymers such as polyurethane or plasticized PVC.
 As many changes are possible to the swimming goggle and lens embodiments of this invention, utilizing the teachings thereof, the description above and the accompanying drawings should be interpreted in the illustrative and not in the limited sense.
Patent applications by Richard T. Stone, Minneapolis, MN US
Patent applications in class Goggles
Patent applications in all subclasses Goggles