How To Buy The Best Sunglasses For Driving

When it comes to driving safety, not all sunglasses are created equal.

The color and tint of the lenses can affect how our eyes adjust to outside conditions, while the frames can restrict our field of vision. In other words, our everyday shades may not be the best option when we get behind the wheel.

“You probably wouldn’t wear the same pair of shoes to go out dancing and jogging; you have different shoes for different tasks,” says Dr. Karl Citek, a professor of optometry and a member of the American Optometric Association. “It’s the same with sunglasses.”

Driving during the day means facing the sun’s glare, which can cause our eyes to squint and become strained and fatigued. Even more dangerous is the bright light reflected off the road’s surface and other vehicles. “We refer to that as ‘veiling glare,’ and it obscures the object you’re looking at,” says Citek. “Technically, for that brief moment, you’re blinded.”

The right shades can help reduce the driving risks associated with glare, and can lessen sunlight exposure and limited peripheral vision. Here’s what Citek recommends that you look for.

Young couple in a car on the road.Consider Weather And Geography

Before you buy, think about what your usual commute looks like. Places with many overcast days, or environments with heavy shade, might not require the same degree of lens darkness that driving directly into a sunrise or sunset might. Geography may play a role, too—some regions have more intense sunlight than others, which means that a pair of sunglasses might be an all-day accessory, especially for those with light hypersensitivity.

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Make Sure They’re Well Made

When shopping for new glasses, hold them at arm’s length and look at a straight line, like a countertop edge, through the lenses. “If the view appears curved or blurred or distorted in any way, the sunglasses are probably not good quality,” says Citek.

Pick Polarized Lenses

Polarization absorbs the reflective glare that bounces off both the road and oncoming cars, allowing you to focus clearly on what’s in front of you. It’s a feature usually labeled somewhere on the frame, but here’s how to do a check yourself: Put the sunglasses on and slowly tilt your head to the left or right of your smartphone or laptop’s screen (which is usually slightly polarized, too). If the screen appears dark or seems to change color, the lenses are polarized.

Check For SPF

Even though car windshields already offer UV protection, your sunglasses should block 100 percent of the sun’s UVA and UVB rays, which can cause corneal sunburn and other issues. Look for a tag or label that says the shades provide total protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

hand holding aviator sunglasses up against the skyHome In On Hue

Pink, blue or green lenses might look like fun, but they can make red traffic lights indistinguishable from those that are yellow or amber traffic. Instead, go for a dark gray tint. “It reduces brightness evenly, while leaving colors intact,” Citek says.

Find The Right Fit

The bigger the frame, the more protection your glasses will provide—but only if they’re fitted to your face. Look for a wraparound style that’s snug to the sides of the face, with lenses that are close to your eyes. The lenses should be large enough that the frame’s arms don’t get in the way of your peripheral vision; they should allow you to see out even as they block light coming in from the side.

Another bright move? Get peace of mind on the road by downloading the GEICO Mobile app, where you can find and store your digital ID cards, request roadside assistance, view your car’s maintenance schedule, report a claim and much more!

Read More: Think you’re a good driver? Take this quiz to see how your driving skills stack up.

By Ellise Pierce

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    Leave a comment

  1. Adam Ripley says,

    Maui Jim or Smith Optics. Costa’s are ok but the Maui Jim hands down for all driving roads water even aviation you can’t beat the custom ability and choices to personalize the glasses to fit every driver and get all the protection anyone could ever want and need. While at the same time having the manufacture guarantee your eyes protection and the product which standard to average prices put them on par with every other sunglass maker in the world. And they are made in the USA for the USA. Smith optics are coming up as well but the MJ is the over all winner by far.

  2. John Thomas says,

    Thanks for this information I am planing a trip this summer and am going to look for better sunglasses s than I have

  3. Marie Hynes says,

    This was a very informative article and really mad me think about the sun glasses I should be buying. Thanks
    M J H

  4. ken says,

    not very helpful. if you added what lenses (not brand names tho) would be best for these driving conditions – now that would have helped! like yellow is good for reflection of snow….

  5. M. Winger says,

    Good article! One thing that makes it good is that it doesn’t reference any particular brand, so I’ll do it as a “consumer.” I have used Serengti Drivers for many years. I tried “Luxotica, Ray Bans, but they just fell a part within 5 months where my Serengti’s lasted 30 years! Oh, I have bought other Serengti styles, and all of them quality.

  6. Dan Weiler says,

    When watching films in high school drivers ed we saw the driver in daytime al;ways wore sunglasses. Once we were able to drive in daylight traffic we realized how important having a good pair of sunglasses in the car was.

  7. Pete says,

    What type of glasses do u get to stop the eye blinding result of new car headlites and tailites . Also, if I’d use off road lites I’d get caught. How do so many people get away with it.

    • ken says,

      exactly the question that should be answered in an article like this! i think it is yellow at night that inhibits headlight glare

  8. Francis Dudlar says,

    I always use fishing glasses of high-quality was different lenses for protection of my eyes! Do you agree or disagree

  9. Todd David says,

    Polarized GREEN lenses are best for overcast, rainy, foggy conditions. They cut through the haze like no other color does. They also emphasize the yellow strips on the road.

  10. Kristine says,

    Yes i got a pair of sunglasses from the thunder of niagara airshow that fit over my glasses and im use while drive and this info helped me i have pair glasses with attachable lens for aun they fit glasses and arent good sun all over