How to Pick Prescription Sunglasses

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on August 17, 2022
4 min read

If you have a prescription for your eyes that requires you to wear glasses to correct your vision, then you may want to consider investing in a good pair of prescription sunglasses too. If you wear prescription glasses, it can be annoying to have to buy and attach magnetic or clip-on sun shields or to place a pair of sunglasses over your prescription glasses, which can become bulky and heavy against your face.

With prescription sunglasses, however, you can avoid that annoyance by just slipping on your shades. 

That’s not the only benefit of prescription sunglasses, though, and choosing the right prescription sunglasses can be a difficult choice, especially when you factor in choosing the correct lens type, frame, and additional features. 

Prescription sunglasses are exactly what they sound like — sunglasses that are made with your specific eye prescription in mind. Almost all prescriptions can be turned into sunglasses, providing you with the ultimate protection against the ultraviolet (UV) rays produced by the sun.

While you may think it’s unnecessary to wear sunglasses, that can be a dangerous mindset. UV rays can hurt your eyes and can increase your risk of getting cataracts. You’re also at an increased risk of developing eye-related diseases like macular degeneration, solar retinitis, and corneal dystrophies

While prescription sunglasses are not mandatory, you should consider investing in a pair, especially if you spend a good portion of your time in an outdoor setting or even driving down the road through the daytime. There are few, if any, disadvantages to investing in a pair and wearing them when outside. 

You may be wondering, “Are prescription sunglasses worth it?" The answer to this question will depend on you, but there are many benefits to buying and wearing prescription sunglasses that you should consider. 

These benefits include: 

  • Protection from UV rays, which aids in the prevention of certain eye diseases
  • Not having to worry about losing magnetic or clip-on sun shields, which can be costly to continually replace
  • Preventing eyestrain, headaches, and possible injury from wearing nonprescriptive sunglasses

You'll also enjoy the following benefits with prescription sunglasses:

  • Clear vision in outdoor settings 
  • No more glare 
  • Customization 
  • Convenience — no more wearing sunglasses over your prescription glasses

If you’re still debating on whether or not prescription sunglasses are worth it, consider the following:

  • Figure out what you spend annually on clip-on or magnetic sun shields for your prescription glasses. 
  • Determine how much of your life is spent outdoors or driving in the daylight. 
  • Check for any discounts offered by local optical shops or online retailers. 
  • Consult with your eye care professional on the benefits prescription sunglasses can bring to your life.

Choosing your prescription sunglasses might seem overwhelming, especially when you factor in all the options for lenses and frames. If you feel uncertain about your choices, you should consult with your optometrist. They can answer any questions you have and assist you in picking out the perfect pair. 

If you’d rather choose a pair on your own, you should keep the following considerations in mind:

  • UV protection: Whether sunglasses are prescription or not, their UV-blocking properties are the most important aspect to consider. You’ll want to make sure the sunglasses you choose offer 100% UV protection or as close to it as possible. Regardless of how dark your sunglasses are, UV protection is important.  
  • Polarization: Polarized lenses can benefit those who spend time in areas that have a lot of water, sand, or snow or in areas where light is reflected from surfaces. Polarized lenses offer a filter to reduce the glare of reflected light. But you should know that, with polarized lenses, it will be difficult or impossible to see screens on cell phones and other LED or LCD devices. 
  • Materials: Prescription sunglasses can be created from an assortment of materials, depending on your specific needs and requirements. For example, some lenses can be crafted to be shatter-resistant. These types of lenses are usually made from polycarbonate or Trivex. Another material often used to meet specific prescription needs is glass — but glass lenses can be heavy on the face, and they're prone to cracking and shattering. 

You should also keep in mind that: 

  • Darker sunglasses do not offer more UV protection. 
  • Polarized lenses are good at reducing glare, but they don't block UV rays alone. 
  • The color of your lens doesn't matter when it comes to UV protection, but size does, so opt for larger sunglasses to provide the best protection to your eyes.
  • Consider impact protection. 
  • Don’t break the bank— good sunglasses don’t have to cost an arm and a leg to provide you with adequate protection. As long as they're 100% UV blocking, it doesn’t matter how cheap they are — they will be effective at keeping your eyes safe. 
  • If you play sports, consider choosing glasses with amber, green, or gray lenses, as these will help with contrast. 

When in doubt, consult your optometrist for advice. 

You can buy prescription sunglasses any optometrist's office, including Walmart Vision Center. You can also purchase prescription sunglasses from online retailers like Zenni Optical and EyeBuyDirect. To buy prescription sunglasses online, make sure that you have your most up-to-date prescription on hand.