We often choose sunglasses for their style and how they make us feel when we wear them. And while how they look is important, how they function is as important, if not more important, than their looks. In no scenario is this truer than when you're driving. Even the sunniest days can present navigational hazards, so knowing what to look for when choosing the best sunglasses is key.
Below are some of the most frequently asked questions for driving with sunglasses, and tips for choosing the perfect pair.
Yes. Seeing clearly while driving is essential, and wearing sunglasses will help, whether it's bright and sunny out or even when the skies are overcast. And polarized sunglasses, in particular, reduce glare coming off the road, other vehicles, and from other sources of glare.
Yes. Polarized lenses drastically reduce glare from headlights and light reflecting off of surfaces on the road, whether it's a passing car or the wet pavement. Reduced glare means reduced eye strain because your eyes aren't working as hard to combat the harmful rays being reflected. Polarized lenses can also help improve contrast and sharpen visual details during hazy or foggy conditions.
Non-polarized sunglasses work for many other activitiesskiing, for examplebut for driving, frames with polarized lenses are best.
Choose a frame style that doesn’t interfere with your peripheral vision. Oversized frames, while trendy, can obstruct your peripheral vision, making it difficult for you to see potential hazards in the road. Frames with large lenses and thin temple arms, like the classic aviator, don’t obstruct your peripheral vision, and they still provide good eye coverage.
The tint of your lenses is another important consideration when choosing the right pair of sunglasses for driving. Different colors affect how much light reaches your eyes, how well you can see certain colors within your range of vision, and the level of visual contrast as a result. Choosing the wrong color lens for the conditions can significantly impact how well you can see road signs, traffic lights, and potential hazards.
In general, driving lenses should improve contrast and relax the eye muscles to reduce stress while you’re driving. Traditionally, many drivers wear grey lenses, which allow the lowest light transmission and make a good choice in the brightest sunlight. But brown or amber colored lenses increase contrast, enabling drivers to better read the road contours. These lenses also minimize eye strain because they reduce the glare of scattered light from dirty windshields, smog, and haze. In addition, brown and amber lenses allow drivers to wear their sunglasses earlier in the day and later in the evening. Sunglasses with yellow lenses work well for driving in low light conditions, like the rain or during a snow event, because they make everything appear brighter, and they enhance contrast and depth perception.
It's also important to note that there are differences in color perception between men and women that will influence lens hue preference. Most men's color vision is red-sensitive, and so they often prefer a neutral-transmittance lens such as grey. Most women are red-deficient and often find a grey tint 'flat' or dull, while a brown-based tint appears to provide more 'natural' vision. These gender guidelines are by no means universal. In addition, men and women often become accustomed to a particular tint over years of wear (visual habit). Trying all the primary and secondary sun tints (rose, for example) is the only way to discover the optimal choice for you. Some drivers prefer fixed-tint gradient lenses because they block excess light coming through the windshield while still allowing the driver to see the dashboard.
Good driving sunglasses will not allow too much or too little light through. Sunglasses you wear at the beach or for other activities outside in the bright sun may not be the best for driving. Many drivers will buy two or more pairs of sunglasses for driving. Glasses with a dark tint will be appropriate for the brightest days. But you'll need a lighter tint on days when the sun is less bright, or for overcast, foggy, or even rainy days. Drivers too often buy the darkest tint they can find and simply don't wear them when it's cloudy. That's a mistake. Good sunglasses can be helpful on days with less sun, providing a crisper view and improved visibility. How much tint do you need?
Avoid wearing sunglasses darker than 5% to 10% for driving at night.
Gradient lensesthose darker at the top than at the bottomare often preferred for driving sunglasses because you can see the dashboard instruments more clearly while being fully protected from the sun coming in through the windshield.
You can also choose photochromic lenses, most commonly known as Transitions® lenses when you're looking for sunglasses for driving. These lenses change from light to dark when exposed to UV light. Since your windshield can block nearly 40% of UV light, you'll need lenses that darken in the car, so be sure to choose photochromic lenses specifically designed for driving like the Drivewear lens from Younger Optics.
Sunglasses with yellow-tinted lenses are great for driving at night because of the sharpened contrast they offer. And sunglasses with an anti-reflective coating on the lenses may further reduce the glare of oncoming headlights.
Check out our bestselling driving sunglasses below.
All Men's Driving Sunglasses
All Women's Driving Sunglasses