Top 3 Factors for Buying Running Sunglasses

Top 3 Factors for Buying Running Sunglasses
By Lisa Simpson - Runner
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Top 3 Factors for Buying Running Sunglasses

Top 3 Factors for Buying Running Sunglasses


A good pair of shades can make a big difference during your run.  Think about it: decent sunglasses will fit comfortably, protect your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) light, and have the right amount of durability for sport, all while making you look stylish in your race photos.  On the other hand, the wrong pair can be a nuisance as well as a waste of money, and you may be forced to ditch them midway through your run.  There are a few key things to consider when choosing a pair of running sunglasses. 


UV Protection


Ultraviolet (UV) light rays are a major concern for outdoor runners.  Not only can this harmful form of radiation damage skin cells (remember to wear sunscreen, folks!) but they can also negatively impact your eyes.  Runners who hit the roads or trails and are exposed to the sun daily are especially at risk.  UV rays, a form of invisible light, can even cause damage on cloudy days.  These rays radiate directly from the sun, but they can also reflect up from the ground, from snow, sand, and other bright running surfaces.

There are two types of UV rays: UV-A and UV-B.  UV-A rays can damage your central vision.  This type of UV light can cause damage to the macula, the part of the retina in the back of your eye.  UV-B rays, which are even more damaging, can affect the front part of your eye, specifically, the cornea and the lens.  According to, UV rays can lead to macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss for older populations.  Additionally, these rays can cause cataracts, pterygium growths, skin cancer around the eyelids, and corneal sunburn. 

Eyewear that absorbs UV-A and UV-B rays can go a long way towards protecting your eyes during a run.  Sunglasses with photochromic lenses and lenses that feature UV-blocking coatings are effective and inexpensive.  Certainly, you can pay top dollar for a pair of swanky running sunglasses, but that’s not necessary to get the benefits of UV-blocking eyewear.




When choosing your running sunglasses, you want to make sure that they fit well and sit comfortably on your face.  The discomfort of ill-fitting eyewear can be magnified over the course of longer runs.  The key to finding the right pair of sunglasses is to pay attention to the width.  If the sunglasses are too narrow for your face, they can end up causing discomfort.  The last thing you want is for the glasses to pinch or press into your temples of for the earpieces to press against the sides of your head.  Ouch!  You also want to make sure that the nose pad sits lightly and comfortable on your nasal bridge.  It should be a snug fit to prevent the glasses from slipping or bouncing as you run.


Polarized Lenses and Tint


Polarized lenses cut down on glare reflected from bright surfaces and cars.  This feature is especially important for road runners who encounter a lot of reflective objects and bright conditions.  The difference between polarized and non-polarized lenses can be quite significant.  Removing glare allows your eyes to relax more and makes for a more focused and less stressful run.  For trail runners or night runners, this feature is not nearly as important. 

Another factor to consider when choosing your sunglasses is the lens tint.  There is an erroneous belief that darker lens tints yield more protection.  Don’t fall for it.  The number one consideration, as we have mentioned here, is UV protection.  However, there are instances where tint makes a difference.  Rose-colored tint can provide greater contrast in technical trail conditions.  This feature is ideal for trail runners and ultramarathoners who do most of their training on technical terrain.  Really dark tint, on the other hand, is useful for reducing glare and reducing the intensity of the sun.  Road runners who opt to train in the heat of the day might consider darker tint to solve these issues. 


Final Thoughts


There are a lot of slick models on the market.  Many of them are quite expensive.  If you are willing and able to shell out the bucks, then more power to you.  But you don’t need to spend big to get a decent pair of running sunglasses. Simply keep the above factors in mind while shopping, and you will be able to find a decent pair of shades for your training needs.  Happy running!




September 11, 2020
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