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Your Guide To Sport Sunglass Lens Tints

The best tint for sport sunglasses depends on the environmental and lighting conditions you tend to experience during sports.

For example, the best sunglass tint for volleyball on a sunny day at the beach likely will be too dark for golfing on an overcast or partly cloudy day.

While this guide offers "tried-and-true" tint solutions recommended by many eye care professionals, don't be afraid to experiment with lens colors and densities. Sometimes the best tints for optimizing performance are a matter of personal preference.

Sport Sunglass Lens Tint Guide
yellow lenses, orange lenses
Yellow or orange
Heightens contrast in overcast, hazy, low-light conditions outdoors or for indoor sports. Filters blue light for sharper focus.

Sports: cycling, hunting, shooting, skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, indoor basketball, handball, racquetball, tennis.
amber lenses, rose lenses, red lenses
Amber, rose or red
Heightens contrast in partly cloudy and sunny conditions, but causes significant color imbalances.

Sports: cycling, fishing (amber lenses for sandy lake or stream beds), hunting, shooting, skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, water sports.
dark amber lenses, copper lenses, brown lenses
Dark amber, copper or brown
(Includes melanin lenses.)
Blocks high amounts of blue light to heighten contrast and visual acuity. Particularly useful to improve contrast on grass and against blue skies.

Sports: baseball, cycling, fishing (especially in waters with grassy bottoms), golf, hunting, skiing, water sports.
green lenses
Heightens contrast (mildly) while preserving color balance.

Sports: baseball, golf.
gray lenses
Reduces overall brightness while preserving 100 percent normal color recognition.

Sports: all outdoor sports in bright light conditions.

Most optical shops have tint samples you can use to help you decide which colors are best for you. Try to evaluate the lenses in lighting conditions that match those you will experience most often during your sport.

If you participate in several sports or in a variety of lighting conditions, consider purchasing more than one pair of sport sunglasses, with different lens tints in each pair. Some sport sunglass frames have interchangeable lenses for a variety of lighting conditions.

Another option is sport frames with photochromic lenses. These light-sensitive lenses darken automatically in response to sunlight and are available in a variety of tint colors, including gray, brown and green.

No matter which type of sport sunglass lens tint or photochromic lenses you choose, consider having anti-reflective coating applied to the back surface of the lenses (or to both surfaces, in the case of photochromic lenses). AR coating eliminates the reflection of light from the back surface of tinted lenses when you are facing away from the sun, avoiding glare caused by these reflections.

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Donald S. TeigAbout the Reviewer: Donald S. Teig, OD, has been a sports vision specialist for more than 25 years. Dr. Teig has helped athletes of all ages and has served as vision consultant to many professional sports teams, including the New York Yankees and the New York Knicks. He also has helped optimize the vision of pro golfers and tennis players.

Page updated August 2017