The Benefits of Prescription Sunglasses

Whether you wear them for fashion, function, or both, sunglasses are a staple accessory for many. If you rely on prescription eyeglasses to see clearly, you may wonder if prescription sunglasses are right for you. With ultraviolet protection, specialized lenses, and other potential benefits, prescription shades present compelling advantages over regular sunglasses for some wearers. Yet, they also come at a higher cost. As you decide between prescription and regular sunnies, consider your vision needs, activities, and budget. This guide outlines key differences, including when prescription models make sense and tips for choosing eyewear that balances vision, protection, and style.


When to Choose Prescription Over Regular Sunglasses

Enhanced Vision

Prescription sunglasses are custom made to your specific vision needs, whether nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. This allows you to see clearly while also protecting your eyes from the sun's UV rays. Regular sunglasses do not correct your vision, so they may strain your eyes or give you headaches.

Reduced Eye Fatigue

Prescription sunglasses reduce eye fatigue that can come from squinting in bright light. Since the lenses are tailored to your vision prescription, your eyes do not have to work as hard to see clearly. This can make being outside in the sun much more comfortable and enjoyable.

Safer Driving

If you rely on glasses or contacts to drive safely, prescription sunglasses are a must for daytime driving. They allow you to see the road clearly while also reducing glare. Regular sunglasses can distort your vision and obscure your view, putting you and others at risk.

While prescription sunglasses may cost more initially, they are well worth the investment for vision and safety. For the best results, look for polarized lenses, UV protection, and a close fit. Prescription sunglasses allow you to enjoy being outside without sacrificing your vision or comfort. With options for most prescriptions and style preferences, you can find a pair that suits your needs and personal sense of fashion.

The Difference in Cost Between Prescription and Regular Sunglasses

For Eye Protection

If you have any vision issues like nearsightedness or farsightedness, prescription sunglasses are a must. Regular sunglasses won’t correct your vision, leaving your eyes exposed to UV radiation. Prescription lenses filter out UVA and UVB rays to properly protect your eyesight.

For Comfort and Clarity

Trying to see through tinted lenses when you already have vision problems can cause eye strain, headaches, and difficulty focusing. Prescription sunglasses provide vision correction so you can see clearly and comfortably on sunny days.

For Driving and Other Activities

Prescription sunglasses make it safer to drive or engage in sports and recreational activities in bright conditions. Without vision correction, glare and blurriness can obscure your view of the road or terrain. Prescription lenses give you the UV protection and enhanced vision you need for outdoor pursuits.

Potential Downsides

Prescription sunglasses do tend to cost more than regular sunglasses due to the added vision correction. They may also limit your options for fashionable frames. However, many eye care providers do offer discounts when you purchase sunglasses along with your regular glasses, and frame styles have expanded to include trendy and stylish designs.

With so many benefits for your eye health, vision, and safety, prescription sunglasses are worth the investment for many individuals. Talk to your optometrist about whether prescription sunglasses could improve your vision and experience in bright and sunny conditions. They may change the way you see the world—literally!

Potential Limitations of Prescription Sunglasses

Prescription sunglasses typically cost more than regular sunglasses due to the added production costs of the prescription lenses. The price difference will depend on several factors, including the strength and type of your prescription as well as additional lens treatments.

Prescription Lens Cost

The higher the prescription strength and the more complex the lens required, the more expensive the sunglasses will be. For example, sunglasses with progressive or bifocal lenses tend to cost more than single vision lenses. Lenses that correct astigmatism or prism also add to the total cost.

Coatings and Treatments

Additional lens coatings and treatments like anti-reflective coating, polarization, or transition lenses that darken in sunlight can increase the price of prescription sunglasses. These added features improve functionality, durability, and visual comfort but also require extra production and material costs.

Frame Selection

The frame you choose also impacts the overall cost. Designer frames and brand name sunglasses are typically more expensive than generic frames. Rimless frames or frames with lots of detailing or embellishments may also cost more due to extra production time and materials.

In summary, while regular sunglasses may start around $20 to $200, you can expect to pay between $100 to $500 or more for a pair of prescription sunglasses depending on your specific lens needs and the frames and options you select. The added cost provides the benefit of customized, glare-free vision and eye protection in the sun. If cost is a concern, you may want to start with the most basic lens and frame options you need, and then add additional coatings and treatments over time as your budget allows.

With some smart shopping, you can find high-quality, affordable prescription sunglasses. Check with your eye care professional about discounted lens options and sales on frames. You can also shop sales at sunglass retailers and look for coupon codes to save on your perfect pair of prescription shades.

Tips for Finding the Right Pair of Prescription Sunglasses

Prescription sunglasses can be an ideal solution for those needing vision correction in bright, sunny conditions. However, there are some potential downsides to be aware of before purchasing.

Higher Upfront Cost

Prescription sunglasses typically cost more than regular sunglasses due to the added expense of your custom lens prescription and specialized UV-protective lens materials. The frame and lens materials also tend to be more durable and impact-resistant to withstand outdoor use, adding to the overall cost. While the investment may be worthwhile for frequent use, the higher price point could deter some from purchasing if only using occasionally.

Limited Style Selection

The number of frame styles available for prescription sunglasses may be more limited, especially for higher prescriptions. Not all regular sunglasses frames can accommodate prescription lenses, so you may have fewer style options to choose from. However, many eyewear retailers do offer a variety of prescription-ready frames in popular styles. You can also ask your optician about frame adjustments or modifications to help a particular frame work with your prescription.

Potential Vision Distortion

For higher prescriptions, the curvature of the sunglass lens can potentially cause some minor peripheral vision distortion or magnification. Anti-reflective lens coatings and aspheric lens designs can help reduce distortion, but may not eliminate it entirely, especially for stronger prescriptions. However, for most typical vision corrections, prescription sunglasses should not significantly alter or impair your vision.

Require Proper Care

Prescription sunglasses require the same care as regular glasses to keep the lenses clean and prevent scratches. However, the specialized lens materials and coatings can be more prone to damage from improper cleaning techniques and harsh chemicals. Use only lens cleaning solutions and microfiber cloths specifically designed for eyewear to properly care for your prescription sunglasses. Avoid wiping lenses when dry to prevent scratching. With regular and proper care, prescription sunglasses can provide many years of use.

Overall, while prescription sunglasses have some potential downsides in cost and style compared to regular sunglasses, the benefits of custom sun protection and vision correction can make them a worthwhile investment for many. By understanding some of the potential limitations, you can make an informed choice on whether prescription sunglasses are right for your needs and budget.

Types of Lenses Available for Prescription Sunglasses

Finding prescription sunglasses that suit your needs and style can be challenging. Here are some tips to help you choose a pair that offers both sun protection and vision correction.

Determine Your Frame Size

The first step is to get your pupillary distance (PD) measurement, which is the distance between your pupils. Your optometrist can measure your PD to ensure proper lens alignment. You should also consider the size and shape of your face to find frames that are proportional and flattering. Oval or round frames tend to complement most face shapes.

Choose Lens Material Wisely

Polycarbonate lenses are lightweight, impact-resistant, and protect against UV rays. Polycarbonate lenses can be a good budget-friendly option. For the best clarity and durability, consider high-index lenses or glass lenses. Glass lenses provide the clearest optics but are heavier and more breakable. High-index lenses are a lightweight alternative with excellent visual clarity.

Consider Additional Lens Treatments

Lens treatments can enhance your vision and protection. Polarized lenses eliminate glare from reflective surfaces like water or snow. Photochromic lenses darken automatically in sunlight and lighten indoors. Mirror coatings reflect light and reduce brightness. Anti-reflective coatings minimize reflections from both sides of the lens.

Buy From a Reputable Retailer

For the best quality and service, buy from an optician or reputable online retailer that specializes in eyewear. They can properly fit your frames, adjust the lenses to your PD measurement, and offer warranties or repair services if needed. Beware of low-cost frames and lenses from general retailers, as they may not provide the UV protection and durability of eyewear from a specialist.

Consider Your Lifestyle

Think about how you will use your sunglasses to determine the right level of sun protection and lens features. Choose darker lenses for prolonged sun exposure or in highly reflective environments. For general day-to-day use, a lighter tint may be more comfortable and versatile. Additional treatments may be beneficial if you frequently drive or participate in water sports. With the proper selection, prescription sunglasses can enhance and protect your vision for years to come.

How to Get Your Prescription Measured for Sunglasses

Prescription sunglasses come with different lens options to suit your needs and activities. The three most common types are polarized, polycarbonate, and glass lenses.

Polarized Lenses

Polarized lenses reduce glare from surfaces like water, snow, and roads. They are ideal for driving, water sports, and other outdoor activities. Polarized lenses provide enhanced visual comfort and clarity. However, they may not be suitable for all activities as they can potentially block some electronic displays. Polarized lenses tend to cost slightly more than regular lenses.

Polycarbonate Lenses

Polycarbonate lenses are impact-resistant, lightweight, and provide 100% UV protection. They are a good, budget-friendly option for most people and activities. Polycarbonate lenses can withstand high impacts without breaking and are a safe choice for sports and in situations where there is a risk of eye injury from flying or falling objects. However, polycarbonate lenses tend to scratch more easily and may not have the optical clarity of glass lenses.

Glass Lenses

Glass lenses provide the best optical clarity and scratch resistance. They are suitable for people who spend a lot of time focusing on distant objects or who prefer the maximum clarity. However, glass lenses are heavier and more prone to shattering on high impacts. They also tend to be the most expensive type of lens. Glass lenses may not be the best choice for sports or in situations where there are risks of drops or collisions.

When choosing between lens types, consider your needs, priorities, and budget. Discuss the options with your eye care professional to determine what is most suitable and safe for your vision and activities. With the variety of high-quality lens materials available today at different price points, you can find prescription sunglasses that suit both your visual needs and lifestyle.

Where to Shop for Prescription Sunglasses

Visit an Optometrist or Optician

To obtain a proper sunglasses prescription, you will need to schedule an eye exam with an optometrist or optician. During the exam, your eye doctor will test your vision and eye health to determine your eyeglass prescription. Be sure to let them know you are interested in getting prescription sunglasses, as they may need to perform additional tests to ensure the proper tint or polarization. They can then provide you with your official sunglasses prescription to take to an optical shop.

Provide Your Regular Glasses Prescription

If you have had a recent eye exam and already have a current prescription for regular glasses, you can provide that prescription to order prescription sunglasses. However, your eye doctor may still need to specify the proper tint or polarization for your sunglasses. It is best to schedule a follow-up exam to determine the right sunglasses prescription for your needs.

Choose Your Lens Options

Once you have your sunglasses prescription in hand, you can choose the specific lens options for your sunglasses. The most important choice is the level of tint or darkness for the lenses. Discuss with your eye doctor what tint would be appropriate for your typical activities in bright sunlight. You can also choose polarized lenses, which can reduce glare from reflective surfaces like water or snow. Polarized lenses typically cost slightly more but can make a big difference in visual comfort.

Factor in the Cost

Prescription sunglasses will typically cost more than regular sunglasses due to the corrective lenses. However, many optical shops and eye care providers do offer special deals and insurance coverage for prescription sunglasses. Shop around at different stores and compare prices to find a pair that fits your budget. For the best value, look for special lens and frame packages that can save you money. With some searching, you can find high-quality yet affordable prescription sunglasses.

Following these steps will ensure you get the proper prescription and sunglasses for your vision needs and activities. Prescription sunglasses can make a world of difference in your ability to enjoy being outside on bright, sunny days while also protecting your eyes and vision. Take the time to explore your options to find a great pair of sunglasses that suit your style and budget.

Sunglasses FAQ: Your Top Questions Answered

When searching for prescription sunglasses, you have several options for where to shop. Your eye care professional, like an optometrist or ophthalmologist, may carry and sell a selection of prescription sunglasses in their office. This allows you to have your eyes examined and get properly fitted sunglasses in one visit. Many eye doctors also offer discounts or insurance benefits for buying glasses in-office.

Major retailers that sell regular sunglasses, like Target, Walmart or Sunglass Hut, may also carry prescription sunglasses or have partnerships with companies that can put prescription lenses into the frames you choose. Some of these stores offer affordable, budget-friendly prescription sunglasses. However, the selection may be more limited.

There are also specialty retailers that primarily sell designer brand prescription eyewear, such as GlassesUSA, EyeBuyDirect and Zenni Optical. These stores frequently have promotions and coupons to save money. They offer a wide range of stylish frames to choose from at varying price points. The drawback is you can’t try on the frames in person. However, many of these companies offer free return shipping if the glasses don’t work out.

Buying prescription sunglasses online can be a convenient option with a huge selection, but it does come with risks. Be sure to measure your pupillary distance to ensure proper lens placement and centering. Read reviews from other customers and check the company’s return policy before ordering. For the best experience, look for retailers that offer virtual try-on tools so you can see photos of yourself wearing the frames.

No matter where you choose to shop, look for sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays, fit comfortably and meet your needs and style preferences. With some smart shopping, you can find high-quality, stylish prescription sunglasses to suit your needs and budget.

Roger Sarkis