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Contacts and sunglasses are like two peas in a pod.
As a contact lens wearer, your eyes should be in a committed relationship with sunglasses when you’re outdoors. There’s just no excuse.
After all, though a few contact lenses do protect against UV-Ray exposure, the rest of your eye and surrounding eye area need protection, too.
Sunglasses are Vital to Eye Health
Sunglasses are a vital part. If you wear eyeglasses, prescription sunglasses are a great option. However, if you’re committed to wearing contact lenses, sunglasses are a vital part of your eye health.
Not only are sunglasses an amazing and recognized fashion accessory, but being a contact lens wearer gives you the flexibility of choosing any non-prescription sunglasses you set eyes on.
But like all good sunglasses, you need to be sure that your non-prescription sunglasses offer complete UV protection with quality lenses that have been coated properly to protect from glare and reflections which may cause eye strain.
Ultraviolet (UV) rays are undoubtedly harmful, not just to your skin, but they can also damage your eyelids, cornea, lens and other parts of your eye. Exposure to UV rays can also lead to diseases such as cataracts or macular degeneration. Extended UV exposure can also cause signs of premature aging. Yikes.
This is why it is incredibly important to have proper sunglass protection. And though you may find a pair of cheap sunglasses or knock-off designer sunglasses, they can’t protect your eyes in the necessary manner.
Lenses are by far the most important part of your sunglasses.
The ideal pair of sunglasses are made of a high quality lens and block 99 – 100 percent of UV rays. In addition to blocking harmful rays, you want a pair of sunglasses that have polarized lenses.
Polarized lenses reduce reflection from surfaces such as water or snow. They eliminate glare thereby reduce eyestrain and increase comfort.
Colored sunglass lenses are not recommended. As cute and fun as a pair of red lenses may be, colored lenses are not able to decrease UV ray absorption – sometimes they aren’t even really able to decrease light.
Brown or amber are ideal for absorbing UV and blue light, therefore enhancing contrast. Grey shaded lenses do not distort color, but with polarization, are able to block UV and reflected glares effectively.
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While you might be in the habit of remembering to wear sunscreen, it’s equally as important to don a pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes.
Proper shades can shield your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) exposure. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), this can lower your risk of health conditions like cataracts, eye cancer, and snow blindness.
Of course, you might also want your sunglasses to make a statement, helping to show off your personality. Here are our top picks that offer both protection and style.
While evaluating a wide range of sunglasses, we automatically eliminated pairs that didn’t clearly note 99 to 100 percent UV protection, per AAO and the American Cancer Society (ACS) guidelines.
After that, we looked for bonus comfort and safety features, like polarized and scratch-resistant lenses. Of course, we also kept an eye out for impressive style notes, a wide variety of color options, highly regarded customer reviews, and affordability.
A good pair of sunnies can range widely in price, depending on the brand and features. Our choices use the following price guide:
- $ = less than $50
- $$ = $50–$150
- $$$ = over $150
You can’t go wrong with a classic aviator — especially when they have a 4.3-star rating and nearly 9,000 reviews on Amazon. (Not to mention a pretty enticing price point.)
The polarized lenses block glare, and you can choose from six colorways to really show off your style. Oh, and if the traditional width of an aviator (58 to 62 millimeters, for reference) feels too big, you can even opt for a square version at 55 mm.
Best round sunglasses
Retro fashion is back, and round sunglasses toe that nostalgic-yet-modern line with flair. This lightweight pair transitions well between sporty activities (hello, stylish runner) and leisurely wear, helping you get the most out of the expensive price tag.
That said, the price reflects an abundance of features: proprietary non-slip nose and temple pads, water- and fingerprint-resistant coatings, and anti-scratch, anti-resistant, and anti-fog properties.
Best square sunglasses
Boxy frames like these look amazing on round and oval face shapes. Not to mention the two color variations (tortoise and rose crystal) look chic with just about any outfit.
The lenses are scratch-resistant to avoid any unwanted lasting marks. Bonus: You can also opt for an impact-resistant prescription lens so you can skip the contacts and get the eye protection you need.
Best oversized sunglasses
While oversized sunglasses may feel synonymous with celebrities of the early ’00s, they’re making a comeback for both fashion and your health.
The AAO recommends bigger sunglasses that offer more coverage, as it limits the opportunity for UV rays to damage both your eyes and the sensitive surrounding skin.
As far as fashion statements go, these polarized GQUEEN sunglasses come in 14 mirrored hues, while the cat-eye frames say hello from the start. (The frame width is also adjustable for a comfy fit.)
While the 4.4-star Amazon rating speaks for itself, we’d be remiss not to mention the packaging your sunglasses arrive in. The manufacturer notes it’s eco-friendly and includes a waterproof pouch and microfiber cleaning cloth.
Best wraparound style
Much like oversized sunglasses provide more protection, the AAO says wraparound-style glasses can reduce the risk of UV rays entering your eyes from the side.
This pair from Suncloud features an 8 base frame and lens curvature, meaning it’ll wrap on your face more (whereas a more traditional 4 base tends to sit flat).
The lenses have a hefty number of features, too. Not only are they polarized and anti-reflective to filter glare and bump up the contrast (great for playing in the water or snow), but they’re also designed to feel light and airy while nixing distortion and adding impact resistance.
Best sporty shades
Oakleys have long dominated the active sunglasses space for good reason: Their sunglasses work. Designed with a fashion-forward cyclist in mind, these frames are no exception.
The wraparound-style offers more coverage than the average sporty shade. That means they can protect your face from both sun damage and flying debris when cycling, all without compromising peripheral vision.
While the arms lack rubber grip — a bummer some reviewers noted they miss — the nose pad does get grippier as you sweat, helping to keep your glasses in place.
A quality, stylish pair of wayfarers is great for anyone’s sunglasses collection, as the versatile design works for most face shapes.
Plus, this pair from Smith has a variety of options for lens and frame color mixing. You can go a more classic route (think vintage tortoise frames) or add a pop of personality (like with a red mirror lens).
These also offer all the tech features you need: full UV protection, polarized lenses (one reviewer said the clarity is “like putting on HD glasses”), impact resistance, and smudge-, moisture-, and reflective-resistant coatings.
Best for giving back
When you’re in need of a versatile pair of sunglasses, a chic tortoise shell delivers — especially when it comes in a modern cream-grey gradient. But this pair from DIFF Eyewear is extra special.
According to the World Health Organization’s 2019 World Report on VisionTrusted Source, at least 1 billion people worldwide are living with a vision impairment that could have been prevented or hasn’t been addressed.
To help fix this, DIFF partnered with international development charity Sightsavers so that for every pair sold, someone in need receives eye exams, glasses, medication, or surgery.
As for the shades you’ll receive, well, the 4.8 stars and 108 reviews scream positivity: The oversized frames provide added coverage, and the lenses are scratch-resistant. Note that reviewers say these run a little large for someone with a smaller head.
Best eco-friendly sunglasses
Let’s be honest: Sunglasses with bamboo arms immediately lend a cool factor — and they let everyone know you care about reducing your carbon footprint.
These glasses have repurposed bamboo arms, with polarized, prescription-friendly lenses. Plus, the company donates 10 percent of its profits in partnership with Aravind Eye Care System and Restoring Vision, helping to fund eye exams, glasses, and cataract surgeries to those who need them.
Best pop of color
Standing out in a crowd is easy with these colorful sunnies. Reviewers love how comfortable and sturdy they feel.
The lenses aren’t polarized though, so it’s best to don them when you don’t have to worry about glare (so, don’t wear while you’re driving). At a low price point, you can nab a pair in both colors, making it easy to mix and match to your mood.
Best for beach days
Whether you prefer to dive in the waves or are more of a stay in the sand type, these sunglasses are ideal for a day with sun, sand, and surf.
They’ll help keep your eyes safe with full UV protection and a wraparound style. Plus, your visibility will stay on point under bright conditions thanks to their polarized, scratch-resistant lenses.
They’re also designed to float on water — you know, just in case they happen to slip after a photo-worthy cannon ball — and come in five colors to help you find the perfect aesthetic fit.
Best unbreakable sunglasses
By using an optical grade polycarbonate REKS says is 10 times more shatter-resistant than glass or plastic, you can basically bend, twist, even accidentally sit on these shades without worrying about breaking them. That makes them a great go-to pair to toss in your bag.
With six color options, you’ll be able to mix and match to any outfit.
While a stylish pair of shades is fun, it’s equally (if not more) important that your sunnies offer proper protection.
First and foremost, the ACS recommends sunglasses provide 99 to 100 percent UV or UV400 protectionTrusted Source, meaning they block both UVA and UVB rays. The label may also read “UV absorption up to 400 nm” or “meets ANSI UV requirements,” the ACS says.
Beware any pair labeled “cosmetic,” since they’ll only block about 70 percent of UV rays. Definitely stay away from sunglasses with no label at all — assume they don’t provide any protection.
Size also plays a role: The AAO plays by the logic of “bigger is better,” noting that the more coverage your shades can provide, the less likely it is you’ll suffer sun damage.