Our Story

NOBODY OWNS US. Optic Nerve Eyewear has been an independently owned and operated company since 1976.

For nearly 40 years, Optic Nerve (formerly Mountain Shades) has been an independent leader in the sunglass industry. Countless years, months, days, and hours have been spent in the mountains of Colorado testing our products to deliver only the finest sunglasses on the market. We have worked hard to create products for consumers and programs for retailers that exceed that of our competition. It's our top priority to foster a culture of passion and independence that we’ve been able to stand behind all these years.

Our Story

Who do we serve?

We believe you deserve just as much respect as the guys and girls who train hours a day for a shot at the podium. We know you might secretly have Olympic level genes, but what’s important to us is that you be you and push your own limits. That’s something we will always support. It takes nerve.

Back to the Beginning

Founders Bill and Tom are partners and old friends. They have always run the company like a family. Their personal touch, at every turn, is what gives the company a soulful, positive energy.

“A long time ago, Bill and I bought out my dad, Ken, who’d opened the first specialty sunglass retail store in Colorado. He told us if we worked hard he’d sell the business to us. It was called Shades Of Vail, and eventually we had six stores in Colorado. He stayed true to his word and Bill and I started designing and importing shades. I’ll never forget selling them out of our old Subarus. I’d go one way, and Bill went the other.”  —Tom

We’re a much bigger company now, but we have to laugh at how little has changed. Yes, our conference room is bigger, but meetings still take place in flip-flops or on a bike.

"Becoming a huge company has never been the end goal. Even with all the zillion-dollar mergers and acquisitions in our industry, Tom and I have always had fun. Taking care of people along the way just makes sense.” —Bill

Starting to Get It?

We’re accessible. You can call our owners and ask us about the organizations we support and why we do what we do. No, seriously. This level of availability has always been a central part of running our business. What could be more of an obvious asset than engaging with our customers?

We produce premium shades. What does premium mean? It means that our shades are constructed from high quality materials that have been tested by world-class athletes as well as novice athletes, truck drivers, beginner pilots, moms, and absent-minded kids. But most of all, it means that you will not see any difference between Optic Nerve and other eyewear brands with a much higher price tag.

Our customers are smarter than most. Yes, it’s a bold claim. The savviest buyers and consumers alike know that supporting a company that empowers its employees, strengthens its community, reduces environmental impact, and cares about everyone in the supply chain adds value to the product they are purchasing. Buying our shades is a vote for a smaller company that cares.

It comes down to this: Nobody Owns Us and we intend to keep it that way. We are fighting the large conglomerates and giving you remarkable deals with every pair of sunglasses.