Choosing a Pair of Sunglasses for Driving

Wearing sunglasses for driving will certainly help protect your sight but they could also save your life.  The right pair of sunglasses will enable you to see with more clarity and will reduce the tiredness of your eyes on long journeys.  Just bringing along that pair of sunglasses that you wear on the beach may not be the best option though; it’s worth taking the time to make sure that the sunglasses that you are using for driving are doing all that they should.

UV Protection

UVA and UVB rays cause macular degeneration. The macula is the part of the retina that gives our vision its fine detail, and macular degeneration is the main cause of vision loss.  In fact, it affects more people’s eyes than cataracts and glaucoma combined. UV rays reflect from the road surface and even in winter they pose a risk because the low winter sun shines directly into the eye, added to which snow reflects up to 80% of UV rays.  Therefor you should wear sunglasses that block 100% of UV rays.

Polarised lenses

Polarised lenses reduce glare and give your vision greater clarity so they will certainly make your driving experience safer and more comfortable.  Many top brands such as Ray-Ban offer the option of polarised lenses with their sunglasses.

Lens Color

You may choose the color of your lenses for reasons of style, but you need to be aware that the color of your lens will affect your vision.  Grey or color neutral is generally preferred for driving, although green will reduce glare and yellow and orange are good for depth perception.


When driving in strong sunlight, you will need sunglasses with a 70-80% tint but for night driving you should not use sunglasses with more than a 10% tint.  Photochromatic lenses will adjust to changing light intensity but you need to ensure that they are sensitive to visible light as well as UV light because windshields often have UV filters which will impact on the way in which the lenses operate.  Lenses with a graduated tint have a lighter tint at the base, which means that you can read your instrument panel without difficulty.

Lens material

Not all lenses are made from the same material.  Optical glass is scratch resistant and durable but shatters on impact.  Polycarbonate lenses are fifty times more impact resistant than optical glass but are more easily scratched.  SR-91 lenses give superior optical quality combined with the lightweight strength of polycarbonate.

Lens Style

Like lens color, this is probably something that you have previously considered in terms of style and appearance but when it comes to driving you need to give some consideration to the practicalities as well.  Micro style frames may look very groovy, but they provide far less protection for your eyes. The obvious choice of style for driving is a pair of Aviators, because they were of course specifically designed to improve the quality of vision for pilots.  However, any large frame is going to give your eyes the full protection that they need.

Author: Brandon Park