Sunglasses for cycling or mountain biking aren’t just a fashion accessory, but also an essential piece of safety equipment.
Eyewear for cycling can protect the eyes from various weather conditions. For example, during the summer months, when the weather is warm and sunny, sunglasses can shield your eyes from dust, insects, and the sun’s damaging rays. Meanwhile in the winter, sunglasses can provide a barrier to snow, rain, wind, and mud.
Speaking to Checklist, Sharon Copeland, an optician at Feel Good Contacts, explains that when buying a pair of shades for cycling, there are various things to look out for, including the lenses, frame, arms, and nose bridge.
1. Choosing between mirrored or polarised lenses
If you’re cycling in a sunny environment, mirrored lenses are a stylish and practical choice. However, a mirror lens isn’t suitable for dark and wet conditions.
I would recommend polarised lenses when cycling on the road as these provide the ultimate protection against glare and keep you safe when riding in various conditions. They help filter out reflections from bright, smooth surfaces allowing you to identify risks clearly.
Polarised lenses are not suitable if you are a mountain biker as there is usually very little glare out on the trail compared to road cycling. Depth perception can make it harder for you to spot an obstacle or bump.
2. Opting for the right lens colour for cycling
Amber and rose-tinted lenses increase visual acuity, providing the brightest field of vision and making them ideal for conditions with little sunlight. Their strength in colour contrast makes them a great choice for cycling on roads. These tints enable you to notice the smallest of details quickly and clearly.
When choosing coloured lenses for cycling, you should avoid choosing tints that are too dark as they will make it hard for you to see in shady areas, such as under trees, tunnels, and bridges.
The following lens colours are also great choices for cycling:
Grey tinted lenses – reduce glare and provide true colour perception; they are great for cycling all year round
Brown tinted lenses – enhance contrast in natural light and are great for low-light conditions
Yellow tinted lenses – these filter out blue light, allowing you to see contrast better. This makes them a great choice for cyclists who find themselves in low light conditions and overcast days
3. Does size matter?
Big frames are great for providing coverage and protection; however, some riders may find that they interfere with their peripheral vision.
4. Frame shape
If you find that big frames interfere with peripheral vision then you might want to consider wraparound sunglasses. These type of sunglasses offer the most coverage, protecting your eyes from sun, wind and debris, and they stay in place on the face better than other models. By shielding your eyes from the wind, they can also reduce tear evaporation and prevent dry eyes. Oakley and O’Neill are both popular brands for wrap sunglasses.
5. Prescription sunglasses
If you’re looking for prescription sunglasses, you can choose Transitions (photochromic lens), which darken when exposed to direct sunlight, or you could opt for Sun Tints, which feature a full, permanent dark tint. Both feature 100% UVA and UVB protection and are available in three colours (grey, brown and green).
6. Ensuring that the arms are the right fit
It’s important to carefully inspect the arms of sunglasses and glasses when choosing frames for cycling. Check that the arms and hinges are sturdy enough to keep your frames firmly in place, even over the roughest terrains.
7. Straight Temples
Also, you may want to consider frames with straight temples, as these are easier to take off when you have your helmet on.
8. Nose bridge checks
Sunglasses with adjustable nose pads and bridges are ideal for offering a more personalised fit. These features ensure that the sunglasses stay comfortable and in place whilst cycling.
9. Scratch resistance
It would be wise to choose a scratch-resistant, large lens when looking for cycling sunglasses.
10. Sun protection
Finally, you can best protect your eyes while cycling by choosing sunglasses which reduce glare and filter out 99 to 100% of UV rays.
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