Don’t let the sun or prescription needs come between you and your favorite sport. Whether you’re an avid triathlete, a die-hard cyclist, or a weekend team sport player, the right pair of prescription sport sunglasses make a huge difference in both the level of your enjoyment and your performance ability.
Not sure where to start your prescription sport sunglasses search? Our Sports Opticians have you covered with an in-depth guide on how to choose sport sunglasses. Keep reading to learn which key features to look for, how to decide if you should get polarized lenses, and discover our top frame recommendations. If you already know what you are looking for, check out our lineup of the Best Sport Sunglasses.
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Eyeglass Tyler condenses all the information on what makes good sport sunglasses good into this video. Watch below or keep reading to learn more!
Frames have one purpose: to support the lens and thus you, through thoughtful and intentional design. There are three main components to a great pair of frames: fit, grip and coverage. Each part plays a crucial role in providing you with ultimate performance and protection, all with one goal in mind: functioning so perfectly they disappear during your event.
First, let’s talk about fit. Finding a pair of frames that work well with your other equipment is vital to athletic performance and focus. If you are a cyclist, for example, choosing a pair of sunglasses with straight temples allows a seamless fit between helmet and sunglasses. However, if you are hiking, running, fishing, or competing in triathlons, a bent temple could provide a better fit. Bent temples are the most common type of temple. Finally, the last type of temple we will be covering are adjustable temples. These flexible temples will easily go over any hats or straps and are geared toward climbers and mountaineers. Along with temple shape, specialized bridge design will help airflow circulating so your sunglasses don’t fog up.
Another key component to fit is lightweight wear. Whether you’re out for a long-distance run, or mountain biking through new terrain, your sport sunglasses should enhance your favorite sports without distracting from them. The goal: frames so light that you forget you’re even wearing them.
To achieve a comfortable, lightweight-wear, we recommend paying close attention to the frame material. This is the biggest determining factor of the weight of the frame. Our two favorites? Oakley’s proprietary O Matter™ and Grilamid TR90 Nylon. Both of these frame materials are extremely lightweight but durable enough to withstand some impact.
The one frame material to skip on your sport sunglasses? Metal. While it looks great on your day off, metal frames don’t play nicely out on the court. They’re too fragile and don’t provide enough peripheral coverage to block out sun.
Grip is all about keeping your sunglasses in place so you can focus on the game/activity at hand. In sport prescription sunglasses, this is even more true, as a shift in your frame is also a shift in vision. Rubber nose pieces and rubber temples help keep frames in place throughout every play, bump or tousle. High impact is not a problem. With hydrophilic rubber on the nose bridge and temples, the frames’ grip will increase as your intensity and perspiration increases.
Last but not least, let’s talk about coverage. Why is coverage so important? It keeps debris and elements out. There are two main deciding factors on the level of coverage for your prescription glasses: overall shape/rim style and lens height. First, let’s explore frame shape. There are many different frame shapes and each serves a different function. For prescription sport sunglasses, our Sports Opticians suggest beginning with semi-rimless, shield or square frames. These styles of frames have a tall enough lens to accommodate a wide variety of prescriptions. To break it down further:
- Semi-rimless frames only have a top rim, allowing for unobstructed vision, and not feeling where the edge of the lens is. Also, since the bottom is rimless, there is good ventilation, which keeps the lens from fogging up without sacrificing coverage.
- Shield frames are some of the tallest frames out there. They aim to keep maximum support no matter your position. For instance, during a triathlon race when you drop down into a tuck, the frames will be high enough that you will not be seeing over the tops of them, but rather have uninterrupted coverage and vision. Another feature of the shield frame is a snug fit between the glasses and your face. This is desirable because it keeps all of the elements out while providing maximum coverage.
- Square frames are one of the most versatile due to their performance features and casual style. They’re a perfect hybrid of a casual lifestyle frame with the functionality of a sports frame.
With support from good frame technology, the visual experience from the lens can truly shine. In this section, we will be covering the primary lens features to consider, such as contrast enhancement, transition lenses, and the pros and cons of polarization. Ultimately, it all comes down to one goal: pristine enhanced vision without compromising eyes protection.
As we review the best lens options for your sport sunglasses, we do want to briefly bring attention to their lens material. Many lenses are available in a variety of materials and we recommend an impact-resistant lens for your sports frames. This will offer superior protection against accidental bumps and hits without compromising your eyes’ safety. The material to avoid? Glass. Keep this lens material for your casual pair. While they offer great optical clarity, they’re heavier and pose a potential risk when playing high-impact sports.
For lens color recommendations, we have put together a prebuilt lens guide of different combinations optimized for different light conditions. Choose from a variety of features, such as mirror finishes, transition lens, polarization, anti-reflective coating, and anti-fog coatings. Now, onto the lenses!
First, let’s talk about contrast and its purpose. Contrast gives greater depth to both the shadows and the brightest areas. The details in the shadows are not lost, so you can make those quick decisions with ease. Choosing a colored lens as opposed to a grey lens is one of the ways to gain contrast enhancement. For example, if you are cycling on a paved road, potholes, debris on the side of the road, cracks all have the potential to send you over the handlebars. By choosing a lighter rose copper tinted lens, you can spot the uneven road conditions and avoid them. Contrast enhancement is your friend.
Brands have developed their own contrast enhancement lenses. If you are looking for a well-rounded lens Start to Finish, a SportRx prebuilt lens is an unpolarized lens with a Dark Rose Copper base tint that functions well thought the day. SportRx lenses are hyper-customizable and give you the control for fine-tuning your look and performance.
Also, we will be highlighting Oakley PRIZM™ and SMITH ChromaPop™ which are brand-specific contrast-enhancement lens technologies. They both work by filtering out undesirable wavelengths that muddy vision. Oakley PRIZM™ is designed to fine-tune your vision for specific sports and environments. Smith ChromaPop™ has 3 different levels of protection, ChromaPop, ChromaPop Polarized, and ChromaPop Polarized PLUS that has extra coatings for glare reduction, and mirror finishes. Click the links above to learn more about each one.
To polarize or not to polarize, that is the question.
The answer? Well, it really depends on the environment and activity you are pursuing. First things first, let’s learn what polarization is and why it can be a problem for your eyes. Light is typically scattered in all directions. When it hits a flat surface, the reflective light then travels in more or less the same direction, i.e.,. water or snow. When this happens, a glare is created. A polarized lens reduces this type of glare by filtering out these horizontal wavelengths.
In sports where there is a high amount of glare, such as fishing or mountaineering, it is best to choose a lens that is polarized to help protect your eyes. If, however, you are mountain biking or playing in a field, polarization can make it harder to see some details, thus hindering you from your best performance. We also advise against polarization for ball sports, since it can distort depth perception. Instead, a mirror coating can provide the sun protection you need without disrupting your natural vision. Overall, the decision to polarize is ultimately dependent on the sport you’re playing and the desired versatility of your prescription sport sunglasses.
Let’s explore transition lenses next. True to their name, transition lenses darken when exposed to UV rays. As the intensity of the UV rays increases, so does the darkness of the lens, making it easier to deal with the changing light conditions. Transition lenses typically come in grey for maximum reduction, however, they also come in copper to help deliver a desirable, more increased contrast. The SportRx Sunset lens provides a rose copper-based transition lens with a red mirror coating, which changes from a light to medium rose copper, creating a lens that works well throughout most lighting conditions.
Transitions® are an excellent option if you play in a variety of lighting conditions. For example, tennis players can benefit from a clear lens during evening practices and a slight tint during your morning match. Transitions® offer the most versatility without having to invest in multiple frames. To learn more about them, visit our blog on transition lenses.
Below are a selection of our top prescription sport sunglasses. For a more complete list, check out our lineup of the Best Sport Sunglasses.
Oakley Flak 2.0 XL
The Oakley Flak 2.0 XL is by far the most popular sport sunglass, and for good reason. Constructed with Oakley’s proprietary O Matter™ for amazing durability and ultra-lightweight comfort, the Flak 2.0 XL gives you the strength you need. Unobtainium™ earsocks and nose pads combined with the curved, straight temples keep the sunglasses in place throughout your event, no matter how much you sweat.
Rudy Project Rydon
We love the sleek design of this low-profile frame. Made from a mixed composition, the frame front is durable nylon, while the temples are lightweight metal. The flying lens design encourages airflow and fog-free vision, even during your sweatiest games. As for fit, you can customize this frame to your unique facial features thanks to the fully adjustable temples and nose pads.
Get Prescription Sport Sunglasses Online at SportRx
Need prescription sport sunglasses? Done. When you shop with us, you’ll find video guides and tooltips throughout the build process as you customize the perfect pair. An answer to all your questions is at your fingertips, and if you want to chat with an expert, Contact Us. We’ll put you in touch with one of our friendly in-house opticians who can help you build your prescription sport sunglasses.
Ditch risky online shopping with the See Better Guarantee. Try your sport sunglasses for 45 days. If you’re not satisfied, send them back. Get a full refund, exchange, or credit towards a better pair. And return shipping? Covered. Get your pair of prescription sport sunglasses at SportRx today!