Before you hit the tarmac, make sure to check our collection of sunglasses, prescription sunglasses, and eyeglasses for pilots. These frames and lenses are designed to meet the needs of every pilot, from ultralights to commercial aircraft and some are even standard issue for the US Military. With iconic brands like Ray-Ban and Randolph Engineering, these pilot glasses deliver the performance and style aviators demand.
Pilots are some of the only professionals and hobbyists who have had eyewear designed just for them. Arguably, the best pilot sunglasses and prescription sunglasses are based on the classic aviator sunglass frame design and include high-quality, non-polarized, gradient-tint lenses that block the sun from above while allowing for improved clarity through the bottom half of the lens. Originally created by Bausch and Lomb in the 1930s, the aviator design has been adapted for both fashion and function. But the Ray-Ban RB3025 and Randolph Engineering’s Bayonet Aviator continue to be the most preferred sunglasses and prescription sunglasses by pilots around the world.
Similarly, eyeglasses in an aviator frame shape are the most popular prescription eyewear among pilots. Since pilots will almost always encounter some form of direct sunlight, they find the best eyeglasses for flying have photochromic lenses, like Transitions™ lenses, which adjust lens tint from clear to dark, adapting to the changing light while up in the air.
Like anyone else, pilots wear sunglasses and prescription sunglasses to improve their vision in bright light and protect their eyes from harmful UV rays. The main difference between pilots and casual sunglass wearers is that pilots are more likely to encounter full-sun conditions or be forced to be facing directly towards the sun without trees or clouds (at least as many clouds as you would get on the ground) to block the sun.
Pilots should not wear polarized sunglasses because the polarized filter applied to lenses can interfere with pilot-specific visual safety references, including being able to spot light reflecting from other planes in the area and the ability to read their cockpit instruments properly. Gauges and other instruments in the cockpit already have their own polarized filters applied to the protective glass. When combined with polarized sunglasses, the instruments can become difficult to read, so in order to have the best visual information in the sky, pilots should choose non-polarized sunglasses for flying.
Like polarized sunglasses, mirrored sunglasses are designed to reflect glare and are therefore not recommended for pilots. Pilots should instead look for lighter, or gradient tint lenses.