What Makes a Good Pair of Sunglasses for Runners?

Sunday Shades - Sunglasses for Runners

With an average of 12 hours of daylight in Singapore, it is only logical that when you’re exercising outdoors, you should put on a good pair of sunglasses. Even though there are times when there are no direct sunlight, harmful UV rays still abound.

Studies have shown that prolonged exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can heighten the risk of cataracts, a leading cause of blindness worldwide. Worse, there can be cancer risks. Even just a few hours of intense UV exposure can result in photokeratitis, or temporary blindness.

With so many sunglasses brands around, how can you choose the right one? For the active outdoor person, the obvious factors to help you decide on the right pair of shades should include protection  (obviously), comfort, quality and style.

Although it is expected that all sunglasses ought to protect your eyes, you’ll be surprised to know that not all feature ultraviolet (UV) protection. Some sunglasses have darker lenses but do not offer UV protection. While some sunglasses may feature UV protection, they may not be polarized. So, how do you determine which pair of sunglasses is right? What are the features you should look out for before settling for a pair of sunnies?

1. UV 400 Protection

Unless you’re Dracula, everyone is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. People benefit from small amounts of UV radiation, for UV plays an essential role in the production of vitamin D. However, we risk developing skin cancer and cataract if we are overexposed to UV radiation.

What is Ultraviolet light? UV light is a type of electromagnetic radiation that is responsible for sun tans and sunburns. Needless to say, too much exposure to UV radiation is damaging to our eyes.

When is UV radiation the highest? Well, the higher the sun in the sky, the higher the UV radiation level. So, if you’re running under the midday sun, be aware. If you live in higher altitudes, the thinner atmosphere absorbs less UV radiation. Conversely, UV radiation is highest for those living at or near the equator. So, if you live in Singapore, take note!

The WHO has developed The Global Solar UV Index (UVI) as an indicator for the amount of UV radiation level on the earth’s surface. Its purpose is to indicate the potential for adverse health effects and so that people to protect themselves. The values of the Index range from zero and up. The higher the number, the greater potential for damage to the skin and eye. To put things in perspective, the UVI can reach up to 20 for countries located close to the equator. By comparison, the UVI in Nordic countries rarely exceed 8, even during summer.

In all practicality, when running under the sun, especially in countries close to the equator, it is essential to don a good pair of sunglasses. A good pair of shades should not only protect you from the intense sunlight, it should also protect your eyes from excess exposure to UV rays.

Although UV radiation from the sun is classified into UVA, UVB and UVC, only UVA and UVB reache the earth’s surface. UVC is completely blocked by earth’s atmosphere and does not reach us. To ensure that both UVA and UVB rays are blocked, the sunglasses should be rated at UV 400, which means the lenses will block all light rays with wavelengths up to 400 nanometers. Sunglasses with a UV 400 rating will block virtually 100% of harmful ultraviolet rays.

Sunglasses that have tinted lenses but not UV protection are actually harmful. In fact, you’re better off not wearing these non-UV protected shades. Why? Because the darker lenses can cause your pupils to dilate, causing your eyes to let in even more harmful UV rays.

It is therefore imperative that your pair of shades have UV protection, preferably at UV 400.

2. Polarized Lenses

Polarization is different from UV protection. UV protection blocks harmful rays from entering your eyes, whereas polarization provides protection from glare. This is especially crucial if you are spending time where there are flat surfaces that are reflecting the harsh sunlight. Common flat surfaces that will cause plenty of glare is concrete pavements. Glass surfaces that clad many buildings these days are also sources of glare. Even the harsh sunlight bouncing off the bonnet of a car can result in glare. Naturally, prolonged exposure to glare can bring about much discomfort.

Wearing a pair of polarized sunglasses prevent you from having to squint, which can reduce visibility. In turn, squinting can cause eye fatigue, and even results in headaches. With polarized lenses, you can avoid the distracting glare and thus can relax more, allowing you to focus on your run.

How do polarized lenses work? Polarized lenses will only allow vertical light in, cutting out the glare of the reflected horizontal light. Simply put, you only see objects as they are, without the distracting glare. If you have a pair of polarized shades, not only can you enjoy greater clarity of vision, you will experience greater safety too. This is especially so for drivers, where the harsh glare of light can obscure their views of road conditions.

Because of the improved optic clarity that polarized sunglasses offer, those engaging in sea sports, such as sailing, surfing and kayaking, will also benefit greatly. The clearer contrasts and radical glare reduction offered by a polarised filter will help you pick out hidden buoys and other hazards.

If you want to learn more about how polarized lenses can benefit you, check out this article.

3. A Good Fit

What’s the point of wearing a pair of sunglasses with polarized lenses and UV protection but doesn’t fit well? Worse, because of bad fit, it can start to bounce and slip when you’re all sweaty and well underway in your run.

A good pair of runner’s sunglasses for should be snug fitting and not bounce when you’re running. It should sit well on the nose bridge and not touch your cheeks. Important too, for maximum comfort, it should also be lightweight. In fact, a good pair of shades will do its job so well, you’ll even forget it’s there – essential for longer distance running.

Finally, if you’re Asian, you’ll definitely appreciate a pair of sunnies designed with the Asian head profile in mind. A pair of sunglasses with ‘true Asian fit’ will feel almost custom-designed for you, so you’ll feel inclined to take it with your run all the time.

4. Build Quality

Sunday Shades - High Quality Shades for Runners

A pair of sunglasses with all the above nice features is not complete if the build quality is not up to scratch. How do we tell if a pair of shades is well made? To start with, the frames must be made from strong, yet lightweight, materials. They also need to be flexible and resistant to heat and corrosion. Common materials are metals and plastics.

Metal frames are a popular choice as they are malleable and are resistant to corrosion. However, frames that made from metal is limited in style as colours as compared to frames made from plastics.

On the other hand, frames made from plastics are allow for greater designs and colours. Some manufacturers of sunglasses choose polycarbonates thermoplastics as these materials are very strong and durable. 

When it comes to lenses, plastic materials may triumph over glass. While glass lenses are more resistant to scratches, they are heavier. For runners who need a light pair of sunglasses, lenses made from plastics are preferable as they much lighter. Additionally, plastic lenses allow for additional coatings that will ensure clarity comparable to glass. As mentioned earlier in this article, good lenses should feature UV 400 protection and are polarized.

Apart from the quality of the pair of shades itself, the packaging the sunglasses come in also matter. Much can be deduced about the quality of the sunglasses when a manufacturer even pays attention to the packaging. Manufacturers who take pride in their products will ensure the sunglasses are well-packed, so that there is minimal movements of the sunglasses in the packaging. This is crucial to prevent any scratches or damages during shipping. Included in well-packaged pair of shades should be a microfibre carrying pouch that doubles up as a lens cleaning cloth.

5. Style

These days, we should not have to sacrifice style for function. Otherwise, we might as well run in a attire made from gunny sacks – just saying. Truth is, if we want our pair of sunglasses to stick around for some time, shouldn’t we get one that looks good on us too?

While there are many styles of sunglasses in the market, not all styles are suitable for running. Choosing a classic style of sunglasses might be the safest option. They don’t go out of style, and are suited for virtually any face types and activities.

Apart from the style of sunglasses, choosing the colours of our sunglasses to match our personality and activities is also a factor to consider. Wouldn’t it be great if we own a pair of sunnies that look good on us on the commute to work and on the tracks afterward? While we’re out running, we may choose vibrant-coloured frames and lenses to brighten up our mood and appearance that will surely add that spring in our strides . While others may prefer a more understated style to project a certain air of sophistication no matter the time of the day.

In conclusion, do consider the above points when choosing your pair of shades to accompany you on your runs. Not all sunglasses are made equal. Get a pair that offers UV protection and is polarized to begin with. Next, your pair of shades for running should be comfortable and lightweight. It has to be snug-fitting (preferably with a true Asian-fit if you’re Asian), so that it would not bounce.

Sunday Shades offer some of the best sunglasses for runners. They offer UV 400 protection and all of their shades are polarized. Thousands of customers can attest that Sunday Shades feature true Asian-fit and definitely do not bounce. The sunglasses come in a wide variety of colours and are the build quality is superb. All Sunday Shades sunglasses are packed tightly in quality packaging and a cleaning cloth/pouch comes as a standard. Check out their complete range today!