Best Running Sunglasses to Protect Your Eyes from the Sun

It’s pretty obvious that running can be hard on the feet. But what some runners forget is that it can be just as hard on the eyes. All that running in the constant glare of bright daylight can take its toll on your eyes if you don’t have the best running sunglasses.

Do I Have to Wear Sunglasses While Running?

Some runners hate wearing sunglasses. They like to feel as free as possible and like the cooling sensation of the wind hitting their face as they sail along. With sunglasses on, that cooling wind doesn’t hit all of your face — just part of it.

But sunglasses are a critical piece of equipment for you, and here’s why. Many runners prefer to run during the daytime for safety reasons. As a runner who enjoys time on the road or trail, you need to be visible to stay safe.

In addition to visibility from passing cars, you’re less likely to trip during day runs. You’re able to see every obstacle in your path. Most races are held during daytime hours as well.

Since you’re likely to spend most of your outdoor running time in the full light of the sun, you need to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. Chances are, you already protect your skin from the long hours you spend running in the sun.

What Do UV Rays Do to the Eyes?

What if you aren’t concerned about the delicate eye area showing premature wrinkles from all the sun you get while running? Do you still need to wear sunglasses while running? Are UV rays so bad for the eyes?

UV rays are absolutely awful for the eyes. Those rays can cause a host of problems down the road for your eyes, including macular degeneration, pterygium, skin cancer, and cataracts. You can even get a short-term painful sunburn on the eyes.

During an hours-long marathon, for example, you can do a lot of damage to your eyes if you aren’t wearing sunglasses.

What Should I Look for in Running Sunglasses?

The sunglasses you wear can’t just be any cheap pair you grab at a dollar store on your way to your race. You need to put more thought into your purchase than that because all sunglasses are not created equal. Here is a short list of qualities you should look for:

  • Protection: This should be the number one thing you look for. While the other qualities are important, this is the one that can influence how healthy your eyes are in the future. You need to find glasses that specifically say they protect from UV rays.
  • How much they cover your eyes: To provide complete protection, look for sunglasses that don’t only cover your eyes. They should also wrap around to the side, thoroughly covering any exposure you might have.
  • Comfort: This is important because if the sunglasses aren’t comfortable, you’re going to hate wearing them. And if you hate wearing them, you’re going to start finding excuses as to why you can skip putting them on before your runs. The best sunglasses in the world won’t do you any good if you don’t wear them.
  • If you want tinted lenses: It’s okay to go with a lighter-colored lens as long as it offers UV protection. If you like the idea of wearing more colored lenses than Bono, go for it. If you like a variety of colors when it comes to your lenses, you can even opt for sunglasses with interchangeable lenses — just because you’re serious about your running doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun.
  • Heaviness: We all know runners hate anything that feels heavy on their bodies. That also applies to sunglasses. If you feel weighed down by your sunglasses, you should look for a lighter pair.
  • Appearance: You’re only human. The main reason you’re wearing sunglasses is to protect your vision, but you still want to look cool while you’re doing it. There’s such a broad assortment of sunglasses out there, there’s no reason to settle for a pair that makes you look like a chump.
  • Fit: You want your sunglasses to fit snugly, but not tightly. You don’t want them to be so uncomfortable that they cause pain on your face, but you also don’t want them slipping down your nose. That would be annoying to have to push them up mile after mile.
  • Frame material: The kind of material your sunglass frames are made out of depends on your own personal preference. Metal frames are available, as are composite frames or plastic frames. If you’re stumped, ask your running buddies what kind of frame they like to use while running.
  • Coating to prevent scratches: While getting sunglasses that have scratch-resistant coating won’t mean they’ll last forever, they will be more resistant to some of the wear and tear other sunglasses would fall victim to.

The 5 Best Running Sunglasses

1. Under Armour Rival

This pair of sunglasses will make you look and feel like a rock star during your run.

Pros

  • There are several colors of lenses and frames for you to choose from, and they offer basic black if you’re worried about clashing with your running outfits.
  • These have lightweight plastic frames and lenses.
  • These will block 100 percent of UV rays, including UVA, UVB, and UVC.
  • The lenses are 130 millimeters wide to give you wrap-around protection to guard your eyes even more.
  • The lens height is 42 millimeters, which is enough to cover your eyes, but not so tall that you’ll feel like you’re wearing a face shield.
  • The lenses are impact-resistant, which means they’ll be strong enough to withstand some abuse.
  • The frames have a three-point grip, which means you shouldn’t have to worry about the sunglasses sliding off of your sweaty nose.
  • These glasses come with a case to keep them safe and dust-free when they aren’t in use.
  • These sunglasses are affordable for being a high-quality product.

Cons

  • These lenses aren’t polarized so they won’t cut glare very well.
  • The sizing description is a little hard to follow, which makes it difficult to know if these will fit you.

2. Smith Optics Pivlock V2 Max

If you have a bigger head, you’ll want a larger pair of glasses. That way, you won’t get the feeling that your head is being slowly crushed by your sunglasses. It’s hard to concentrate on a run when you’re getting a headache.

Pros

  • This product has a three-size adjustable nose piece to help stop the glasses from sliding down.
  • It has interchangeable lenses for people who like a little variety — each pair comes with three different lenses. It’s like getting three sunglasses for the price of one.
  • The lenses offer UV protection.
  • You’ll get a case with this product.
  • Super lightweight — you’ll barely know they are there.
  • There’s no top bar on these glasses, which is nice for people who like an unobstructed view of the road and their surroundings.
  • The lenses and glasses are durable — they’ll hold up well.
  • The lenses are really clear and make you almost feel like you aren’t wearing any.
  • You’ll still get good airflow while wearing these, which is really important on long, hot runs.

Cons

  • These lenses aren’t polarized.
  • Changing the lenses is kind of hard.
  • It’s hard to avoid getting fingerprints on these sunglasses when you change out the lenses.

3. ODODOS Polarized Sports Sunglasses

Expensive sunglasses don’t corner the market on UV protection — sometimes inexpensive sunglasses do just as well. If you want a quality pair of sunglasses, but you can’t afford an expensive pair, check out these ODODOS glasses.

Pros

  • These sunglasses come with a polarized lens.
  • They have seven layers — a polarization layer, two bonding layers for more durability, two UV protection layers and two shatterproof layers.
  • You’ll be able to see everything on your run with total clarity because of how clear these lenses are.
  • They are lightweight, which means you’ll be as comfortable as possible on your run.
  • They have a soft rubber nose pad.
  • You’ll get five interchangeable lenses with these. You’ll get the black polarized lenses as well as four colored lenses.
  • They work well for people with small faces, like women who sometimes don’t like how big the unisex runner sunglasses are.
  • The frames are virtually unbreakable, which means you won’t have to worry about dropping them while you’re juggling all your race day stuff as you head out the door.
  • The nose piece is moldable to allow you to find a fit that works for you.

Cons

  • Adjusting the nose piece to find a comfortable fit takes a bit of work when you first put them on.
  • Doesn’t include instructions on how to change the lenses.

4. Tifosi Dolomite 2.0 Wrap Sunglasses

These sunglasses offer a great fit for those who have medium to large-sized heads.

Pros

  • These include rubber ear pads to stop the area from behind your ears from being too sore during your long runs.
  • You’ll get a case with your purchase to protect your glasses for years to come.
  • These glasses have a nice streamlined design that runners will approve of.
  • They come with soft pads that will cut down on how much your nose will ache after a run.
  • These sunglasses resist fogging up because they have two vents that let air circulate behind the lenses. That helps cut down on moisture behind the lenses.
  • They are interchangeable sunglasses — each pair includes three different colored lenses.
  • Because of the air circulation, you’ll stay relatively cool on a long, hot run. That breathability may feel really refreshing.

Cons

  • They don’t fit small heads very well — they’re a bit too big.
  • The lenses aren’t polarized, which means you’ll get a fair amount of glare if you run by the water.
  • On really windy days, you might get a bit more air circulation than you bargained for with these. Your eyes can feel slightly dried out from the wind because of the two air vents.

5. Duduma Polarized Sports Sunglasses

These are some of the most affordable running glasses on the market, but you wouldn’t guess that when you try them on. They have a lot of great features that would fool you into thinking they cost much more than they do.

Pros

  • You have a few choices regarding the color of the frame and the lenses.
  • They have a lightweight design that runners will like.
  • These composite frames will bend, but they won’t break. Once you bend them and let go, they’ll go right back to their shape.
  • The polarized lenses shelter you from 99 percent of the reflected glare, but they don’t give you that hazy look you can sometimes get from polarized glasses.
  • You get a lifetime warranty with these sunglasses.
  • You get 100 percent UV protection with these glasses.
  • These come with a hard-cover case to keep them in great shape when you aren’t wearing them, and you’ll also receive a fabric pouch.
  • You get a cleaning cloth with them, which will help you remove any smudges you get with repeated use.
  • These don’t look too manly for women to use.

Cons

  • These fog up a fair amount.
  • They aren’t the most stylish pair of sunglasses you’ll find.

And the Winner Is …

The ODODOS polarized sunglasses win this race. These are affordable, but they don’t skimp on the features that make them really stand out.

They have a polarized lens that will cut back on glare, and they are super strong, thanks to the seven layers they have. They’re a champ at keeping out UV rays.

The glasses are light and the lenses are clear, which means you’ll almost feel like you’re running without any sunglasses. The frames are unbreakable, which means you don’t have to treat these like they’ll shatter if you toss them down in your car after a hard race.

In addition to all those great features, you’ll also get five interchangeable lenses to use with these.