We navigate with our eyes, which means they’re almost always exposed to harmful UV rays, dust and dirt, wind and blowing sand. Getting debris in your eyes can be painful and alter your performance; and long term exposure to UV light can lead to serious eye damage.
Optometrist Cheryl Torghele at the Salt Lake Clinic shares, “Sunglasses in the great outdoors are a necessity for all of us, regardless of age, to protect our eyes from debris the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation (UV light). UV light exposure contributes to cataracts and macular degeneration, both of which will decrease visual acuity. Growths on the eyes, called Pinguecula's and pterygiums, can also be caused from prolonged exposure to UV light.”
When looking for sunglasses it’s important to make sure the lenses are UVA/UVB protective. Look for a sticker on the lens or look on the tag to make sure you are covered. If you are shopping online the product description should include information about UV protection. If you don’t see information about UV, its best to put them back on the rack and look for another pair. It’s also important to look at the frame material, sweat proofing, lens material and lens color.
Whether you’re a runner, cyclist, pool goer, golfer or hiker, consider your shades as some of the most important gear you own. There are thousands of options available when choosing sunglasses, making it difficult to determine what styles are best for different sports or outdoor activities. Here are some recommendations when picking out your next pair of sunglasses.
At the Pool or Beach
Frames made with plastic and lightweight metal are sturdy and strong, yet completely comfortable during extended wear. Try green and gray-hued lenses, which transmit colors evenly and reduce glare.
Road and mountain bikers require a clear view of their path so choose oversized wrap frames to protect the eye area from sunlight, wind, and debris, while reducing glare to a minimum. Frames that allow for interchangeable lenses enable you to use yellow tints in cloudy or wet conditions and darker brown or gray tints on sunny days, greatly improving your view of the road.
Also look for shades that grip since cyclists need full use of their hands at all times.
UV protection is essential on any trek, but wilderness hikers often wander through shaded areas where sunglasses can be distracting. Flip-up or clip-on sunglasses can be an excellent choice for hikers.
Rain or shine, winter or summer, running is a year-round outdoor sport. The right pair of performance sunglasses should offer a combination of UV protection and glare reduction.
To withstand constant movement while running, look for sunglasses with a snug fit and lightweight frames. Non-slip nose pieces and temples are necessary to keep your eyewear in place.
Tinted shades increase depth perception and detect the green’s subtle details. Try amber or brown hues to improve awareness of the course and help you track the ball better. For best results, lenses should deflect glare and also allow enough light for a clear, extended view.
Tennis, Softball, Baseball
When the heat is on, maintain focus on the field or court with sunglasses that don't budge. Full-coverage wrap shades stay put, while silicone nose pads and cable temples prevent slippage on blazing summer days.
Even more important than preventing the shades from slipping is ensuring that the lens itself will hold up if a ball hits the face instead of a glove or racquet. Opt for high-impact-resistant lenses and flexible and durable frames, such as nylon.
Tinted sunglasses can improve performance by sharpening contrast and depth perception. Gray, brown and amber are helpful hues for field sports where judging distance is key.
Tennis and racquetball players often wear goggles for a wider field of view. To protect the face, goggles should be padded at the temples and bridge and secured firmly around the head with an elastic band.
Water sports buffs depend on lightweight sunwear with exceptional clarity. Non-slip materials like rubber temples keep glasses in place, even in extreme heat and wind.
To shield eyes from wind, water and UV rays, sunglasses should provide ample face coverage. A wraparound design keeps frames from sliding while protective coatings block harmful light. Grip-tip or padded temples cushion the sensitive area above the ears for extended, headache-free wear.
Sunglasses specially made for fishing and boating are often polarized to curb glare and sharpen scenery. Yellow- and brown-tinted lenses boost contrast and depth perception to enhance your experience on the water.