What are performance sunglasses?
No matter what sport or outdoor activity you love, you probably are looking for ways to increase your performance.
In most cases, vision is a key factor in performance, and sports sunglasses can help take your game to the next level.
Whether you enjoy mountain biking, snowboarding, rock climbing, kayaking, skiing, golfing or virtually any other sport or activity, there are sports sunglasses that can improve the comfort and clarity of your vision for peak performance.
Durable and specialized performance sunglasses also are recommended if you work outdoors, do a lot of driving, or you are in the military.
To meet the demands of both casual and competitive athletes, sunglass manufacturers have developed innovative sports sunglasses that provide the best vision possible under extreme conditions.
Sunglass lenses for peak performance
The most important features of performance sports sunglasses are the optical quality and visual enhancement properties of the lenses. Many lens tints are available, and each color has specific advantages.
Amber tints are a great choice for snow skiing and many other sports because they enhance contrast. On the other hand, gray lenses reduce brightness without altering color perception.
Polycarbonate lenses are the best choice for high performance sunglasses because they are lightweight and far more impact-resistant than lenses made of other materials.
Polarized lenses also are highly recommended for many sports and activities because they reduce glare from light reflecting off flat surfaces, such as water, sand, or a field of snow.
However, polarized lenses often are not advised for sports such as downhill and mogul skiing, because they make icy patches on the slopes less reflective and therefore more difficult to see.
Though glass lenses have the best optical quality, they are not recommended for active sports because they are heavy and more likely to shatter on impact than lenses made of polycarbonate or other materials.
For the best possible vision, comfort and clarity in changing light conditions, consider photochromic lenses. These lenses are clear indoors and at night, and darken automatically in sunlight. Photochromic lenses are available in a variety of sun-activated tints, including contrast-enhancing brown, neutral gray and soothing green.
Regardless which type of sports sun lenses you choose, have anti-reflective coating applied to the back surface of the lenses — this will eliminate glare from light reflecting off the back of your lenses when the sun is behind you.
What kind of sunglass performance do you need?
Every outdoor activity has its own visual requirements, and this has led to the development of sports-specific performance sunglasses. Many frame and lens combinations have been specifically designed for golfing, cycling, rock climbing and other specific activities.
For example, a certain lens tint may help golfers notice subtle changes in the direction of the blades of grass on a green that could affect the line of a putt. But a completely different tint may be best to help a hunter see the contrast of a bird against an overcast sky.
Multi-purpose sunglasses that feature interchangeable lenses with different tints for different activities and lighting conditions also are available.
When choosing frames, look for lightweight, unbreakable models that feature rubber pads on the bridge and the ends of the temples to keep the sunglasses securely in place even when you are perspiring and moving quickly.
Start with an eye exam
Before purchasing performance sports sunglasses, see an eye doctor near you for a comprehensive vision exam. Even a small change in your eyeglass prescription can make a significant difference in your vision and improve your performance and enjoyment of your sport.
At the end of your exam, ask your eye doctor or optician for recommendations for the best sports sunglasses for you particular sport or activity.
Page published in February 2019
Page updated in January 2021