LAST UPDATED: October 5, 2019
Best Sunglasses: Block the Sun and Protect Your Eyes
Enjoy the outdoors and protect your vision with these high-quality sunglasses
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON October 5, 2019
When it’s really sunny outside, the light can be blinding and cause issues with driving, walking, and other outdoor activities. A high-quality pair of sunglasses can improve your vision and reduce glare. If you want a new pair to upgrade your style or, more importantly, to block out harmful UV rays, here are the best sunglasses to consider.
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Benefits of Sunglasses
- Protection against UV rays. Sunglasses protect your eyes against the dangerous UV rays emitted by the sun: UVA, UVB, and UVC rays. These rays can cause cataracts or permanent eye damage. Some types of UV radiation can also cause macular degeneration.
- Keep the elements at bay. Sunlight isn't the only thing that can damage your eyes when you're outdoors. Sand, wind, dust, and even snow can get into your eyes and cause discomfort. Snow-reflected UV rays can cause snow blindness, where the sun's glare burns the cornea.
- Better vision. If you spend a lot of time outdoors, it’s important to wear sunglasses because they improve your vision and make your eyes feel more comfortable. Sunglasses with good lenses can enhance the clarity of your environment.
- Eliminate dangerous glare. Glare can make driving and daily tasks difficult or even dangerous. It can cause “temporary blindness,” where your vision is washed out or blocked by brightness. If you're spending time on the water, get polarized sunglasses. You'll be able to see through the glare and notice fish and other aquatic life.
Types of Sunglasses
Bausch & Lomb introduced this design in 1936. The initial sunglasses were designed for U.S. military aviators. Classic aviator sunglasses feature a dark metal frame and smoke or reflective lenses. The lenses resemble large teardrops and block the sun from all angles. Aviator sunglasses look good on everyone and come in three styles: wraparound, colored, and mirrored.
Browline sunglasses were very popular in the 1950s and ’60s and have stood the test of time. They get their name from their thick top frame that runs along the brow, and have a thinner metal frame at the bottom. Browline sunglass frames feature hard plastic or horn-rimmed arms, and the upper part is connected to a lower wire frame. Spring hinges allow the arms to conform to your head for enhanced comfort.
Teashade sunglasses are also known as John Lennon glasses, as he's the one who popularized them back in the 1960s. However, they are no longer as popular as they once were. These shades feature retro round metal frames and come in different colors to match your style. Teashade sunglasses usually have metal frames and plastic lenses. They are not polarized.
These were created in the 1950s by Ray-Ban and now have a new shape. Their lens is almost similar to that of squared sunglasses but features a curve on the lower part. They offer full eye protection, fit most face shapes, and work well with different outfits. When they were first released in 1956, they were well-received, becoming an iconic product of that time. Unlike other sunglasses, they were made of molded plastic instead of metal.
Oakley was established in 1975 and is one of the top sport performance brands in the world. World-class athletes wear Oakley gear when competing at the highest level possible. The brand holds more than 850 patents and is known for its innovative lens technologies, like PRIZMTM. Oakley sunglasses have lenses with quality optics and high impact protection. The company is headquartered in Lake Forest, California. If you’re in the market for men’s sunglasses, you might want to try the Oakley Men's OO9144 Rectangular Sunglasses.
This American brand of luxury eyewear is most popular for its Aviator and Wayfarer shades. It was established in 1936 by the American company Bausch & Lomb. The luxury eyewear brand joined the Italian group Luxottica in 1999 and soon after accelerated its growth and redefined its distribution. Ray-Ban sunglasses have been worn by many famous people. Almost everyone in the movie “Top Gun” wore Aviators, and actors in “The Blues Brothers” wore black Wayfarers. The brand is headquartered in Milan, Italy.
William Beecher started American Optical back in 1826. The company began working on sunglasses in 1876, creating regular eyeglasses with tinted lenses. American Optical is known for its affordable and durable sunglasses that last for years. It produced the sunglasses that were worn by Neil Armstrong and the crew of Apollo 11. If you’re a pilot, or want to look like one, the American Optics Original Pilot Sunglasses may be a good choice.
- $10-$50: These are simple sunglasses that may be polarized or non-polarized. Some block both UVA and UVB radiation. They filter out glare and protect your eyes from long-term UV damage.
- $50-$100: The shades in this price bracket can eliminate reflected and scattered light. They may come with extras like lens cleaning sprays and microfiber cloths. Most have UV400 protection coating.
- $100-$250: These are top-of-the-range sunglasses made by renowned companies like Ray-Ban and Bose. They have unique features like speakers and cleaning kits. They also come with lengthy warranties.
Sunglasses that fit well not only look good, but they’re also very effective at blocking out harmful UV rays. The sunglasses you get should fit snugly and shouldn't be too tight or uncomfortable. The frame shouldn’t be very wide, as UV rays may get in through the sides. The center of the lenses should align with the center of your eyes. Always opt for bigger sunglasses, as the more coverage, the less damage inflicted on your eyes. Consider getting wraparound or oversized shades that prevent UV rays from entering through the sides.
The main job of your sunglasses is to protect your eyes from UV rays. Be sure to get sunglasses that offer 100 percent UV protection. They should protect your eyes from both UVB and UVA rays. UVA rays are more harmful to your eyes and skin than UVB rays. UV-protective sunglasses should block UV wavelengths up to 400 nanometers. Also make sure that the sunglasses have polarized or anti-reflective lenses, which minimize glare.
Don't buy sunglasses just because they have polarized lenses. Polarization only reduces glare caused by reflective surfaces like water. It does not offer protection against the sun's rays. However, polarized lenses can make activities like driving or fishing safer and more enjoyable.
Sunglasses filter light differently because they have different lens tints. Those with gray lenses reduce brightness without distorting color and are ideal for driving. Those with brown or amber lenses have the ability to reduce blue light and glare. Gradient lenses are similar to your car's windshield. They are usually darker at the top and gradually fade to a lighter tint. Like your windshield, they block sunlight from above but don't darken your view. Colored lenses can also increase contrast and may be useful for athletes who play sports like golf or baseball.
There are many types of sunglasses on the market: Aviator, Wayfarer, semi-rimless, square, oval, cat eye, browline, teashade, and many more. And while the shape you choose will depend on your preferences, it's important to find sunglasses that complement your facial features. If you're getting sunglasses to protect your eyes during sporting activities, make sure they fit your face snugly and block UV rays from all angles. They will ensure you stay safe as you play.
As we had mentioned earlier, sunglasses not only protect your eyes from the harsh rays emitted by the sun, but they can also elevate your style and make a fashion statement. Yes, it’s important to get sunglasses that offer protection against UV rays, however, they should also make you look good. Get a pair that perfectly fits the shape of your face.
If you have a heart-shaped face with a narrow jawline, get cat eye or retro square sunglasses. If your face is round and you have wide cheekbones, get cat eye, square, retro square, rectangular, or angular sunglasses. Aviator, retro square, oversized, butterfly, and top-heavy sunglasses are ideal for people with oval-shaped faces. Lastly, if you have a square-shaped face, get aviator, shield, or round sunglasses.
- Lenses. There are three major types of lenses used in sunglasses: polarized, tinted, and photochromic. Polarized lenses are good at filtering out light coming from different directions, tinted lenses have dark colors that block UV light, and photochromic lenses darken when exposed to sunlight.
- Material. Most sunglasses are made using plastic, but the type of plastic can make a big difference. Strong plastics like CR-39 and polycarbonate are less likely to shatter or break and injure your eyes. Polycarbonate is lightweight and durable and is commonly used to make the lenses and frames of sunglasses. CR-39 is shatter-resistant plastic that’s used to make sunglass lenses.
- Scratch-Resistance. While scratches may not affect the performance of your sunglasses significantly, they can hinder clear vision. That’s why you should get shades with scratch-resistant lenses. Polycarbonate is the best material for lenses because it does not fracture or scratch like other materials. It is used for kids’ eyewear and rimless sunglasses whose lenses are connected to frame parts with drill mountings.
Best Sunglasses Reviews & Recommendations 2020
The Wayfarer sunglasses are designed by Ray-Ban, a well-known brand in the industry. They feature precision-cut, scratch-resistant glass lenses that are designed to improve clarity and reduce eye strain. The lightweight frame is constructed of durable nylon and is available in a large variety of colors. You can also choose from a number of different colored lenses.
These particular sunglasses feature dark non-polarized crystal lenses with 100 percent UV protection, but you can also opt for other treatments, such as a polarized version. In addition, there are three sizes available—52mm, 55mm or 58mm—so you can find the best fit. Each pair comes with a case and cleaning cloth to protect against scratches and other damage.
The biggest complaint about these sunglasses is that they may run a bit small and snug. There have been some complaints they may be a little tight on the back of the ears. The nose bridge may also be a little too narrow for some users.
The J+S Premium Military Style Classic Aviator Sunglasses are lightweight yet tough and scratch-resistant. They have a reflective optical coating design that reflects and minimizes sun glare. These polarized sunglasses are also clear and distortion-free and are great for outdoor activities, including water sports.
The sunglasses are 400UV-rated to protect your eyes, and they block 99 percent of harmful UVA and UVB rays. The frame is constructed of durable and sturdy metal with spring-loaded hinged legs and adjustable silicone nose pads that are comfortable and flexible. The manufacturer provides a 30-day, money-back guarantee and a one-year warranty on the frame and lenses.
A couple of problems with these sunglasses are that the frames are flexible and bend easily, and the earpieces can loosen over time, which can cause issues with their fit. Also, they aren’t curved, so the sun may seep in through the sides, which can be irritating.
The Oakley Men's Gascan Rectangular Sunglasses are made in America and filter 100 percent of UVA, UVB, and UVC sunlight, as well as blue light up to 400mm. They're made with a Plutonite lens material that minimizes ultraviolet radiation and is impact-resistant. Oakley's patented High Definition Optics promotes optical clarity and excellent visibility.
One of the best things about these sunglasses is that they're available in a variety of different frames and colors, such as Matte Black/Black Iridium Polarized, Desert Sage/Tungsten Iridium, and Polished Black/Prizm Ruby. You can choose either polarized or non-polarized versions. All the Gascan sunglasses feature a stress-resistant thermoplastic frame for durability and a three-point fit. Each pair comes with a bag for cleaning and storage.
Unfortunately, the lenses are small for some users, and the hinges may make a bit of noise when you open and shut them. In addition, they may feel a bit too snug on your face.
You probably recognize Under Armour for its sports and athletic wear, but you may not know the company also designs sunglasses. The Igniter sunglasses are made of titanium, polycarbonate, and nylon with grilamid frames that are transparent. The company manufactured the lenses to be impact-resistant and to provide optimal clarity.
The sunglasses provide 100 percent protection against harmful UVA, UVB, and UVC rays. The frames are ultralight yet are very strong and durable, while the molded rubber nose pad and temple arms are designed to be comfortable with a non-slip grip. They have adequate side protection and overall are a good deal for the price. They're decent-quality and cost much less than higher-end brands.
Unfortunately, there have been some complaints that the coating on some color options, as well as the logo, starts to wear off after a short period of use. The lenses can scratch a little too easily, and the rubber nose piece has a tendency to fall off.
These rimless sunglasses from Maui Jim are made with PolarizedPlus2 lens technology that protects your eyes from glare and harmful rays. They are designed to combine UV protection with color-enhancing features so your surroundings appear bright and clear. The sunglasses have HCL bronze lenses with a warm tint to accommodate changes in lighting.
The polycarbonate construction provides impact resistance, which makes them ideal for a variety of activities. The frames are also lightweight and comfortable to wear for long periods of time. They don't slide down your nose, and you barely feel them on your face. Also, they provide great coverage overall. The glasses come with a sport case to keep them from harm, and Maui Jim, a Hawaiian company, provides a two-year warranty with every purchase.
One downside with these sunglasses is that they get scratched very easily. There have also been some complaints that the frame is too thin and flimsy and may break near the hinge.
Ray-Ban is popular in the world of sunglasses, so it's no surprise that the brand has more than one option on this list. These sunglasses have a metal frame and a rectangular lens design. They are available in several colors, such as gunmetal, brown, and black, and multiple lens options, including polarized, gradient, or solid.
These sunglasses feature 100 percent UV protection to block harmful sun rays. They are also prescription-ready should you choose to alter them to suit your vision needs. They are very stylish, have a good-quality construction, and feature a spring-hinged frame that makes them feel sturdy. They're also durable and long-lasting. In addition, Ray-Ban provides a protective case with every purchase.
However, if you wear them underneath an overhead light, you may experience a lot of glare on the inside of the lenses. They may also be too small for some users, and you may receive a pair that is made in China instead of Italy.
We chose to include these Sports Polarized Sunglasses on our list because you really can't beat the price. They are available in a wide range of color combinations, such as Black Red Frame/Red Mirrored Lens, Brown Transparent Frame/Brown Lens, and Black Frame/Grey Photochromic Lens. So, no matter what your style preference, you're bound to find a pair that's suitable.
This particular option features polarized composite-UV400 lenses that provide 100 percent UV protection. They are designed to minimize glare and cut reflected light. The polycarbonate lenses are impact- and scratch-resistant, as well as durable. Since they're so lightweight, you can wear them for a variety of activities, including hiking, driving, and motorcycling. The company also provides a 30-day, money-back guarantee.
One downside with these sunglasses is that they may not get dark enough in bright conditions. The lenses also have a tendency to pop out after a short period of use. There have also been complaints that the coating wears off prematurely.
- To protect your sunglasses from scratches and other damage, keep them in their case or bag when you are not using them.
- Keep track of your sunglasses and ensure they don’t fall off your head or get lost by attaching a neck strap to them. This will allow you to keep them around your neck instead of putting them on your head or in your shirt pocket.
- Find a pair of sunglasses with flexible arms for a more comfortable fit. If they hug your face too much, you could develop a headache.
- Get sunglasses with soft and durable nose pads to keep them on your face more securely.
Q: What is the difference between polarized and non-polarized lenses?
A: Polarized lenses are designed to filter out light and are treated with a special anti-blur and anti-haze coating. Non-polarized glasses reduce the overall brightness of all types of light but don’t reduce glare.
Q: What sunglasses can I wear if I have prescription glasses?
A: If you wear prescription eyeglasses, you can find clip-on sunglasses that fit over your glasses. This will allow you to keep the same prescription without having to buy another pair of sunglasses. You can also find a larger pair of glasses to place over your prescription glasses. Alternatively, you can buy sunglasses that use the same prescription.
Q: What types of lenses are available for sunglasses?
A: Get lenses that fit your lifestyle. There are polarized and non-polarized lenses as we mentioned above. Polycarbonate lenses are more impact resistant and are good for those who are into sports, running, or biking. Progressive lenses are designed to help the user see farther away.
For one of the best pairs of sunglasses to reduce eye fatigue and keep the sun out of your eyes, consider the Ray-Ban New Wayfarer Sunglasses.
You can also opt for the J+S Premium Military Style Classic Aviator Sunglasses, which are a less expensive modern pair designed for comfort, style, and protection.