Nothing makes a smooth drive more enjoyable than a good playlist and that moment in time when the sunlight shining through your car windows is just right. However, on days when the sun is being a bit too much of a diva, the light hitting your eyes while you drive can be bothersome and even dangerous. A pair of sunglasses for driving will shield your eyes from the sun so you can see where you're going and never miss anything that happens on the road in front of you.
However, since we know that sunglasses come in so many different styles with each one having a unique set of features and specs, it can be difficult to find the right one to wear while you drive. We've got you covered! Check out our top 10 list of the best sunglasses for driving, which is topped by Oakley's contrast-enhancing sunglasses which covers your peripherals and is equipped with a grey tint that increases contrast. Give our buyer's guide a read too while you're at it so you know what to keep an eye out for.
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Here are a few key factors to consider when looking for the perfect pair of sunglasses to wear while you drive.
Since you may be wearing sunglasses for a long time while you’re driving, you want to make sure that you get a pair that feels comfortable for the duration of your time on the road.
Flat frames can be very comfortable to wear. They also come in more styles, such as aviators, wayfarers, cat eyes, and even round frames. However, sunlight could still shine through at angles where the lenses aren't covering your eyes.
Wrap-around frames don’t just protect your eyes from the front. They circle back, covering your peripheral vision as well. This type of sunglasses gives drivers more coverage from the sun, which is great for extra bright days.
Keep in mind that these may feel a bit constricting since the frames curve towards the sides of your eyes and the temples wrap around the side of your head. If you decide on a pair that wraps around, make sure it won’t be too tight.
Whether you decide on flat frames or wrap-arounds, look for features that will help keep your sunglasses from falling down whenever you move your head. You also don’t want a pair that feels tight while you drive or one that leaves dents on the bridge of your nose.
Some pairs have rubber material on the temples that serves as an anti-slip surface to keep the sunglasses in place. Though some people may find this a bit constricting, others may find that it makes the fit feel even more secure.
Some sunglasses have a nose piece that's fixed in position and can't be customized to fit on the bridge of your nose. Others come with nose pads that can be adjusted. Plastic nose pads can feel more rigid against the bridge of your nose, but silicone, rubber or foam nose pads are soft and can conform to the natural contour of your nose.
Polarized sunglasses work against glare, which is an effect of light that bounces off of things you see. While driving, you may be exposed to a lot of glare from the highway, bodies of water, or snow. Driving without protection from glare is dangerous because it can influence your vision.
When light bounces off a horizontal surface like pavement or a lake, the reflected light that hits your eyes is what gives off the glare effect. Polarized lenses are equipped with a chemical film that works to absorb and neutralize horizontal light while allowing vertical light in. There are even polarized glasses for driving at night!
Though polarized lenses may make it a bit hard to see a vehicle’s dashboard or navigation screen, many modern automobile companies have made adjustments to these features so that drivers who are wearing polarized lenses can read the dash dials just fine.
On top of this, not only do polarized lenses keep you safe while driving, but they also help prevent eye stress. This comes in particularly handy for people who have to drive long distances, especially during the day.
You'll want to check what color or tint the lenses are, as well as what they're made of. These will directly affect how well you can see while you're driving!
On days when the sun is shining exceptionally bright, a tinted lens can help tone things down a bit so as not to overwhelm your eyes while you drive. A gray tint will help to neutralize brightness without affecting contrast levels. This is a good match for driving on really bright days. It allows your eyes to process the pure forms of colors.
Other tints affect the contrast of what you see. Warm tints like amber and brown address glare and enhance color contrasts. Yellow and orange-tinted sunglasses enhance contrast especially well in conditions like haze and fog. A yellow tint enhances contrast well at night.
Gradient lenses have a tint that is darker at the top and gradually becomes lighter until the bottom. This allows drivers to enjoy the benefits of stronger light blocking when looking at the road, while still being able to see the dash clearly when they glance at a lower angle.
Photochromic lenses automatically change to a darker shade when exposed to bright ultraviolet light. They then change back to their original lighter color when not exposed to light that's intense enough to set off their auto-changing feature. This is why they're also known as transition lenses.
When worn indoors, they are usually clear in color or somewhat close to that. Though they're convenient, they won't normally reach their peak performance if you wear them inside your car. This is because car windshields are already designed to block UV light, resulting in your lenses not transitioning to their full potential.
The lenses of sunglasses are normally made of one of two materials: glass, or a type of plastic. Plastic lenses like polycarbonate ones have good optics and can even come with a prescription. Though they’re more prone to scratches than glass lenses, they’re resistant to impact and are lightweight.
Glass lenses, on the other hand, last longer and are resistant to scratches. Though their optics are better than that of plastic, they’re not impact-resistant, meaning they could shatter easily if dropped or accidentally stepped or sat on.
Plastic frames aren't as heavy as metal ones, so they’re less likely to leave dents on your face and nose. If you’re looking for a pair of sunglasses for driving that’s comfortable, then plastic frames would be a good match. However, they’re prone to getting damaged when left in a hot car, as heat makes plastic deteriorate.
Metal frames are sturdy and can be adjusted when they’re bent out of shape, unlike plastic, which will crack instead of bending. However, metal frames can be heavy, causing dents on the bridge of your nose when worn for long periods of time. Also, depending on the type and thickness of the metal, they can be easier to break.
Keep in mind that though metal frames won’t get damaged if you leave them in a hot car, they will feel hot against your skin since the material absorbs heat. If you’re looking for something stylish and long-lasting, a pair of sunglasses with a metal frame would be a good choice for you.
Some pairs of sunglasses come with accessories or extra features that allow you to maintain them so they last longer or customize them to suit your comfort and needs.
A case will protect your sunglasses when you aren't wearing them. This will also help you avoid misplacing them. Alternatively, your car may have been designed with a compartment to put sunglasses in. In that case, make sure the pair you buy will fit!
Most cases come with a special cloth made for maintaining your lenses and wiping fingerprints, smudges, and dust off.
People who don’t have perfect vision but want to get a pair of sunglasses will need to get some with prescription lenses. These types of sunglasses will allow drivers to enjoy the benefits of having eye protection and being able to see clearly.
Though glass lenses are more optically precise than plastic lenses, they're heavier and can shatter. Prescription lenses made of polycarbonate, which is a type of plastic, are lightweight, won't shatter, and can have UV protection.
You can also consider clip-on lenses to fit over your regular prescription glasses. These are usually plastic and fit best on metal frames. Some prescription glasses have their own custom clip-ons available.
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Flak 2.0 XL Sunglasses
A Contrast-Enhancing Pair That Covers Your Peripheral Vision
Costa Del Mar
Reefton Rectangular Sunglasses
Block Reflections to Concentrate on the Road
Polarized Square Aviator Sunglasses
Great for Both Sun and Shade
Red Sands Rectangular Sunglasses
Combines the Best Qualities of Glass and Plastic Lenses
Frame That Adapts to Your Face Shape
They'll Never Go Out of Style
Shatterproof Sunglasses That Shield Your Eyes With a Wrap-Around Frame
Fit Over Day/Night Driving Glasses
A Pair for Night Driving That You Can Wear Over Your Prescription Glasses
Gradient Lenses That Get Darker When It's Bright Outside
Polarized Clip-on Flip Up Sunglasses
Clip-on Sunglasses for Drivers Who Already Wear Prescription Glasses
Oakley's Flak 2.0 XL sunglasses offer maximum lens coverage as their design wraps around your eyes. With a grey base lens color, this pair works to increase contrast. It's also equipped with comfortable nose pads and ear socks. These sunglasses come with a protective case, too.
A few reviewers found them too large and advised people with small facial features to avoid them. However, many people said that these sunglasses are comfortable and lightweight. Users also liked that they come with the option to add prescriptions to the lenses. They say the tint is perfect for bright afternoon sun.
These Reefton sunglasses by Costa Del Mar use blue mirror polarized lenses, which are resistant to scratches, offer superior clarity, and are much thinner and lighter than average polarized glass material. The tint is designed for open and reflective water, making it a good pair for drives along the coast or to block glare from snow, too.
Reviewers loved the optics of this pair's lenses, saying the clarity is impressive. Many also raved about how they work well to block reflections, saying they're perfect for driving and fishing. People also liked their comfortable fit.
This pair of sunglasses by Sungait has a sleek golden metal frame that features a stylish double nose bridge. The green-tinted lenses are a good match for exposure to bright and low-light environments. Together with the polarization, they work against glare while enhancing contrast in a way that evenly filters colors.
Though some reviewers said that the frames didn't hold up, many loved the green tint, saying it effectively addresses glare without making everything seem too dark. People also liked that this pair comes with a protective case, a cleaning cloth, and even a handy tool that allows you to make adjustments to suit your comfort.
This pair of polarized sunglasses by Maui Jim is ultra-lightweight thanks to its nylon-injected plastic frame. The lenses are made of a hybrid mixture of glass and polycarbonate, giving them optical superiority and scratch resistance combined with shatter-proof and lightweight qualities.
Some reviewers said that the lenses are easy to scratch and the frames are flimsy. However, many said that this pair is lightweight. Users found the nose grips especially comfortable, saying that they didn't experience any pain on their nose. People liked the contrast and clarity of the bronze lenses, too.
This pair of sunglasses by Persol features high-optic quality crystal glass lenses. The keyhole nose bridge is fixed in place while the frame stems are designed to not put pressure on the wearer's head, using its signature Meflecto technology that makes the pair adapt to its wearer's face shape.
The glasses are handmade in Italy and come in a variety of lens tints and frame colors. The metal arrow on the corner of the frame can be customized with your monogram, for even more elgance.
Well-known by pilots, these American Optical Original Pilot sunglasses offer wearers superior features including high clarity, scratch, smudge and impact resistance, as well as an anti-reflective backside coating. This particular feature eliminates reflections from behind the lenses.
People said that the metal frames are detailed, durable, and strong. Users also liked the quality of the lenses, saying they're clear and produce no distortion. The classic, timeless look of this pair was also a hit.
This pair of wrap-around sunglasses by Wiley X is made of shatterproof polycarbonate lenses. Though they aren't polarized, they offer 100 percent UVA and UVB protection. They're also extra durable and safe, as they're designed to withstand high velocity and high mass impacts.
Reviewers were amazed at the clarity of these lenses. People also liked the full-wrap feature, saying it really blocks light from entering their peripheral vision. Users said that the fit is comfortable because the glasses are lightweight, especially on the nose.
Optix 55's night driving glasses take care of that annoying nighttime glare when you drive after the sun has set. Since glare can be even more dangerous at night, this pair is a great one to have nearby. They're big enough to wear over prescription glasses that you may already be wearing.
Some reviewers said that in their experience these glasses work better at dusk than they do at night. However, many said that they fit over their prescription glasses well. Others said that they effectively block glare at night. Some users even said that they've used these glasses during the day, especially when it's dark, overcast, or stormy.
This pair of sunglasses by Serengeti is equipped with photochromic lenses, which mean that they automatically get darker when exposed to bright sunlight. They're also gradient tinted, starting with an amber color at the top and gradually decreasing in hue toward the bottom.
Many reviewers said that this pair is durable and isn't prone to scratches. Drivers liked the photochromic feature as well as the gradient tint, saying that they don't have a hard time at all reading their dashboard. Users also said that this pair is comfortable and lightweight.
If you're a driver who needs prescription glasses and you don't want to spend on getting a pair of sunglasses with prescription lenses, then you may want to check out Caxman's cool clip-on pair. Its clip can be attached to both plastic and metal frames, while its lenses are polarized and scratch-resistant.
Some reviewers had issues with the fit and sizing because the clip-ons didn't exactly match the prescription glasses they already had. To avoid this problem, you'll want to check its dimensions with those of your prescribed lenses.
On the upside, reviewers loved the convenience of the flip-up feature and the easy-to-use clip. Others said that they're effective at shielding your eyes from the light and glare.
To make sure your glasses last, keep them clean by wiping them with a lint-free cloth often. Keeping them clean will help to prevent tiny particles from scratching your lenses.
Also remember not to leave them lying in your car on a sunny day, as doing so could damage the materials. It's also a good idea to get used to putting them right back in a case when you're not wearing them to prevent them from falling onto the floor of your vehicle, or worse - getting sat on!
Summer means road trips! Whether you're heading to the beach, hiking in the mountains, or camping out for a music festival, we have some recommendations for you.
No. 1: Oakley | Flak 2.0 XL Sunglasses | 0OO9188, Prizm Black Polarized Lenses
No. 2: Costa Del Mar | Reefton Rectangular Sunglasses | Blackout/Blue Mirrored Polarized-580g
No. 3: Sungait | Polarized Square Aviator Sunglasses | Gold Frame/Green Lens
No. 4: Maui Jim | Red Sands Rectangular Sunglasses | Grey Tortoise Frame/HCL Bronze Lens
No. 5: Persol | Phantos | PO3152S, Black/Polarized Green
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