The Best Cycling Sunglasses to Boost Your Cycling Performance

Excessive sun exposure during outdoor activities can cause harm to the eyes, leading to issues such as cataracts, eye cancers, macular degeneration, and keratitis. The sun’s UV rays can be particularly damaging to the delicate eyes, and other factors like wind, dust, and squinting due to overly bright light can further aggravate the problem. However, outdoor enthusiasts need not limit their activities to indoors. Sports sunglasses provide a great solution for protecting the eyes from the harmful effects of the sun. These specialized shades offer better protection than regular sunglasses, helping to preserve vision and prevent eye damage.

Choosing the right pair of cycling glasses requires careful consideration. Unlike everyday sunglasses, sports sunglasses need to fit snugly on the head to prevent movement or bouncing during physical activities. It can take some effort and time to find the perfect pair, but the benefits to eye health and comfort are well worth it. In this cycling sunglasses buying guide, we’ll discuss the key factors to consider when choosing the best cycling eyewear for you.

What Are Cycling Sunglasses?

Cycling sunglasses, also known as sports sunglasses or sports eyewear, are specially designed to provide clear vision and eye protection during outdoor activities. Regular sunglasses are more focused on looking stylish rather than providing adequate UV protection for your eyes. Sports sunglasses, however, feature impact-resistant lenses, and a lightweight and comfortable frame, and often come with adjustable nose pads and temple tips to ensure a secure fit during intense physical activities. They are designed to offer a higher level of protection from UV rays, wind, and dust. They have a unique design that wraps around your eyes and has nonslip nosepieces, which keep them from slipping during exercise.

Polycarbonate lenses are commonly used in sports sunglasses, and some are also made of lightweight, durable plastic and are adjustable to fit your face perfectly.

The lenses come in various colors to suit outdoor activities, and some even allow for switching out lenses to match different light intensities or color needs. The best sports sunglasses block 100% of UV light and high-energy visible radiation (HEV) or blue light, and these are referred to as “Blue Blockers.”

Injection molding is used to shape good sports sunglasses, which reduces distortion through the lenses, while lower-quality sunglasses are bent into shape after production, leading to distorted vision.

Why Do You Need Cycling Sunglasses?

Cycling sunglasses offer several benefits to cyclists, including:

  • UV eye protection: Exposure to UV radiation can cause eye damage and increase the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. Cycling sunglasses with UV protection can help prevent these problems.
  • Glare reduction: Glare from the sun, water, or reflective surfaces can impair your vision and make it difficult to see obstacles or other cyclists on the road. Polarized lenses can help reduce glare and improve visibility.
  • Wind and debris protection: Cycling sunglasses with wrap-around frames can help protect your eyes from wind, dust, and debris, which can cause irritation or injury.
  • Comfort and style: Cycling sunglasses are available in a variety of styles, colors, and lens tints, allowing you to choose a pair that suits your personal preferences and fashion sense.

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What To Consider When Choosing Cycling Sunglasses?

When shopping for cycling sunglasses, consider the following factors:

Lens Tint and Lens Darkness

Lens tint refers to the color of the lenses, which can affect the amount of visible light that passes through them. Regular sunglasses usually have a gray or brown tint, while sports sunglasses come in a variety of tints. The right lens tint can help you in your preferred sport by increasing the contrast between your object of focus and the background.

Popular lens tints for cycling sunglasses include gray, green, brown, red, pink, yellow, orange and amber.

Gray lenses are a neutral tint that is suitable for any activity in bright outdoor light. It provides neutral color perception, while green lenses provide a little contrast and are great for sports like baseball and golf.

Red or pink lenses are helpful in cloudy conditions where you need contrast, such as skiing and cycling.

Yellow or orange lenses provide excellent contrast but distort color, making them ideal for overcast or low-light situations and indoor sports.

Brown lenses enhance contrast and depth perception. Amber lenses are ideal for low-light conditions and can improve visual acuity. Brown or dark amber lenses block blue light and are a suitable choice for sports like golf, hunting, and water sports.

Visible Light Transmission

Visible light transmission (VLT) is the amount of light that passes through the lenses. Sports sunglass manufacturers use visible light transmission (VLT) to measure the amount of light passing through lenses, which can determine how suitable the sunglasses are for various lighting conditions. Generally, the lower the VLT, the darker the lenses. Cycling sunglasses with high VLT are ideal for low-light conditions, while those with low VLT are better for bright conditions.

The VLT is often categorized from 0 to 4, with category 0 lenses used for very low light or nighttime conditions. Category 1 lenses are suitable for cloudy or poorly lit locations, early mornings, or dusk. Category 2 lenses are designed for average lighting and are the best bet for most people. Sunglasses in category 3 are good for wearing mostly on bright, sunny days, while category 4 sunglasses are designed for the brightest conditions, such as snow skiing on a very bright day.

Polarized Lenses vs. Non-polarized Lenses

Regular lenses may not offer enough glare reduction for outdoor activities, whereas polarized lenses can make it easier to see clearly.
If you want to update your sunglasses and give them more performance, polarized lenses are a fantastic option to think about. Polarized lenses have a film coating, and are designed to decrease glare and enhance visibility by filtering out horizontal light waves that cause glare. Polarization works by assisting in the reduction of reflected light from flat objects, protecting your eyes and enhancing visual acuity. So should you limit your search for cycling sunglasses to those with polarized lenses? Actually, that depends on the environment in which you typically use.
Athletes who spend time outdoors, such as runners, golfers, and cyclists, benefit from polarized lenses. However, not all sports sunglasses come with polarized lenses. Before purchasing a new pair of sports eyewear, it’s important to check the specifications if polarized lenses are a must-have feature for you.
Non-polarized lenses are ideal for indoor or low-light conditions but may not provide sufficient glare reduction for outdoor activities.

UV Eye Protection

Choose cycling sunglasses that offer 100% UV protection, which can help prevent eye damage and reduce the risk of eye-related problems. When looking for your first pair of sunglasses, UV400-rated shades should be a suitable starting point.


Cycling sunglasses are available at a wide range of price points, from budget-friendly options to high-end models. Determine your budget before shopping and consider factors like lens quality, durability, and frame material when making your decision.

Can I Accommodate Prescription Lenses in My Cycling Sunglasses?

Many cycling sunglasses brands offer prescription lenses or the option to fit prescription lenses into their frames. Consult with an optician or cycling eyewear specialist to determine the best options for your needs.

How to Clean My Cycling Sunglasses?

To maintain the clarity and durability of your sunglasses, it is important to clean them properly. Microfiber cloths are highly recommended for cleaning sunglasses as they prevent microscopic scratches that can occur when using paper towels or regular cloths. Using mild lotion-free dish soap and water can help remove dirt and grime from the lenses. Rinse the sunglasses with water before gently wiping the lenses and frames with the microfiber cloth.

It is important to avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials when cleaning cycling sunglasses as they can scratch the lenses or damage the frame. Also, avoid using hot water as it can cause the lenses to warp or distort. Proper cleaning and maintenance can help extend the lifespan of your sunglasses and ensure that they remain in good condition.

In summary, choosing the best cycling sunglasses involves considering factors like lens tint and darkness, visible light transmission, polarized vs non-polarized lenses, UV eye protection, and budget. By investing in a quality pair of cycling sunglasses, you can protect your eyes and enjoy your cycling journey.

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