The 15 Best Sunglasses of 2021, According to Optometrists

Keep your eyes safe with these top picks

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Travel Sunglasses Ray Ban

Tripsavvy / Chloe Jeong

The Rundown

Best Overall: Ray-Ban Aviator Classic at Amazon

"Comes in a wide variety of lens and frame colors."

Best Budget: Sungait Vintage Round Sunglasses at Amazon

"Both lightweight and made for the long haul."

Best Polarized: Oakley Men's Turbine Polarized Sunglasses at Dick's Sporting Goods

"Provides 100 percent protection against UVA, UVB, and UVC rays."

Best for Fishing: Duduma Polarized Sports Sunglasses at Amazon

"Polycarbonate lenses and frames are durable and scratch-resistant."

Best for Hiking: 7Eye Airshield Ventus at 7Eye

"Keeps out dust, debris, pollen, and wind so your eyes won't get sore while hiking."

Best for Golf: Oakley Men's Flak 2.0 XL Sunglasses at Amazon

"Its lenses are built to contrast in HD for better views on the course."

Best for Running: Torege Men's Clock Stoppers at Amazon

"The lenses are shatterproof and designed to optimize your vision as you run."

Best for Skiing: Oakley Holbrook Square Sunglasses at Oakley

"Feature Oakley's PRIZM lens technology, which augments your vision in glare conditions."

Best for Cycling: Oakley RadarLock Path at Oakley

"Offers clear, less-distorted vision and great refraction."

Best for Men: Sunski Treeline Sunglasses at Backcountry

"Comes with removable sun shield side panels that prevent fogging during high-intensity activities."

Even if you have the right shoes, jacket, and the most comfortable pack, skimping on sunglasses can make for a long day of squinting followed by an inevitable headache. Don’t let the sun ruin your day. Rather, invest in the right pair of sunglasses for your needs and adventures. There are a couple things to look for when choosing the right pair. Dr. Leigh Plowman, Optometrist and Dry Eye Directory founder, recommends seeking out shades with polarized lenses that help reduce glare. Beyond that, shades should also be comfortable and offer top protection.

“Just like sunscreen lotion, sunglasses block harmful UV rays which can cause and/or accelerate a number of conditions in and around the eyes,” says Dr. Esther Young, Director of Optometry at EyeQue. “It’s very important to note that even in the winter or on cloudy days, blocking UV rays is still important because they penetrate clouds,” she adds. “Even if it is not sunny and bright outside, you still need to wear sunscreen lotion and 100 percent UV protection for your eyes.” 

Here are the best sunglasses for a wide range of activities.

Best Overall: Ray-Ban Aviator Classic

Ray-Ban Aviator Classic

 Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Variety of lens and color options

  • Lightweight

  • Comes with cleaning cloth

What We Don't Like
  • Bendable

  • Light can get in the sides

They’re iconic for a reason. Ray-Bans’ classic aviators come in a wide variety of lens and frame colors, from black frames and green lenses to polished silver frames with silver-gray lenses. You can also find the right frame width for your head, pop in prescription lenses, or make them polarized. Originally designed for military use, they block 85 percent of visible light and most blue light, too.

Lens Width: 55 mm., 58 mm., or 62 mm. | Nose Bridge Width: 14 mm. | Polarized: Yes | Unisex: Yes

Best Budget: Sungait Vintage Round Sunglasses

Sungait Vintage Round Sunglasses

Courtesy of Sungait

What We Like
  • Full coverage

  • Affordable

  • Flexible

What We Don't Like
  • Not rubberized

Extremely easy on the wallet, it’s hard to beat these retro-looking Sungait sunglasses. With composite UV-400 lenses, they’re both lightweight and made for the long haul, with a money-back guarantee and lifetime warranty against breakage. While they’re made of plastic, it’s reinforced well with a durable, yet flexible TR90 frame, and the shades also come with a small screwdriver to adjust the hinges with. We think they'll look good on guys, too.

Lens Width: 55 mm. | Nose Bridge Width: 19 mm. | Polarized: Yes |
Unisex: Yes

Best Polarized: Oakley Men's Turbine Polarized Sunglasses

Oakley Turbine Polarized Sunglasses

Courtesy of Sunglass Hut

What We Like
  • High-quality lenses

  • Impact resistant

  • Adjustable nose pads won't pull hair

What We Don't Like
  • Few color options

Oakley is known for its high-quality lenses and advanced performance technology, and the Turbine Polarized Sunglasses are no exception. These sunglasses are made out of Plutonite lens material, which filters out 100 percent of UVA, UVB, and UVC. Better yet, they protect against blue light from devices, too. They have a three-point fit for optimal comfort—these sunglasses only touch your nose and behind your temples. There's also padding in those areas, so the sunglasses won't slide when you sweat. And since these feature a streamlined design, they can be worn during active sports and time spent leisurely in the sun.

Lens Width: 63 mm. | Nose Bridge Width: 17 mm. | Polarized: Yes |
Unisex: No

“For low nose bridges, I recommend choosing a frame with metal adjustable nose pad arms.” — Dr. Esther Young, Director of Optometry, EyeQue

Best for Fishing: Duduma Polarized Sports Sunglasses

Duduma Polarized Sports Sunglasses

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Scratch-resistant coating

  • Versatile

What We Don't Like
  • Not flattering on some face shapes

Duduma’s pair of polarized sports sunglasses will take you from the river and lake to the bike, ski, and hiking trails. The 100 percent polarized coating cuts glare while guarding your eyes against UV rays and blue light. Polycarbonate lenses and frames are durable and scratch-resistant, and the sunglasses come in a variety of colors, from silver frames with black lenses to yellow lenses and black frames. And, at this price point, it doesn't feel like a big loss if they happen to fall in the stream.

Lens Width: 64 mm. | Nose Bridge Width: 33 mm. | Polarized: Yes |
Unisex: Yes

Best for Hiking: 7Eye Airshield Ventus

7Eye Airshield Ventus

Courtesy of 7Eye

What We Like
  • Shatter resistant lenses

  • Eye cup won't let in dust, dirt, or wind

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't fit larger faces

  • Foam is tough to clean

Dr. Plowman recommends 7Eye frames for how they protect your eyes. They “wrap nicely around your eyes,” he says. “They keep out dust, debris, pollen, and wind. This means that your eyes won't get sore while you're hiking or skiing.” The brand also has a collection of sunglasses made just for people with dry eyes, which are designed to block out air and hold in moisture. Best of all, you can get them in both polarized and prescription variations on most of the models.

Lens Width: 61 mm. | Nose Bridge Width: 16 mm. | Polarized: Yes |
Unisex: Yes

Best for Golf: Oakley Men's Flak 2.0 XL Sunglasses

Oakley Flak 2.0 Polarized Sunglasses

 Courtesy of Oakley

3.8
What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Superior lens quality

What We Don't Like
  • Not flattering on every face

  • Pricier

When it comes to golf sunglasses, there’s none better than Oakley’s Flak 2.0 XL Polarized Sunglasses. The frame is durable, lightweight, and built to have a three-point fit, while the PRIZM scratch-resistant lenses are built to contrast in HD for better views on the course—allowing you to spot the boundaries of the fairway and rough, as well as evaluating distance with an improved vision. Even more, grips ensure that the glasses stay on, even mid-swing on a sweaty day. If you play in super-bright, sunny conditions, try out the Dark Golf version of these PRIZMs.

Lens Width: 59 mm. | Nose Bridge Width: 12 mm. | Polarized: Yes |
Unisex: No

“The golf iteration offers players an ideal level of contrast and color control that helps them follow a golf ball through the air more easily at long distances.” — Nicholas McClelland, Product Tester

Best for Running: Torege Men's Clock Stoppers

Torege Clock Stoppers

Courtesy of Torege

What We Like
  • Versatile

  • Lightweight

  • Non-slip

What We Don't Like
  • Not all lenses are polarized

  • Can be challenging to swap lenses out

One of the most comfortable running glasses on the market, these Torege Clock Stoppers are budget-friendly yet made to last. They're made of lightweight Grilamid TR90 and the lenses are shatterproof. These come with three interchangeable lenses, so you can optimize your vision while you run in different light conditions. Interior padding grip along the temples and nose as you sweat for a secure fit. Best of all, Torege offers a lifetime breakage warranty on the frames.

Frame Width: 148 mm. | Nose Bridge Width: 20 mm. | Polarized: On one lens | Unisex: No

Best for Skiing: Oakley Holbrook Square Sunglasses

Oakley Holbrook Square Sunglasses

Courtesy of Oakley

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Available in different lens colors

  • Scratch- and impact-resistant

What We Don't Like
  • More expensive

Polarized, snug-fitting shades are essential for the high-glare conditions of a ski slope, and you’ll want lenses that are lightweight (look for polycarbonate) and have scratch- and impact-resistant features. Oakley, a leader in sports sunglasses, fits the bill with its Holbrook sunnies: they have the brand’s PRIZM lens technology, which augments your vision in glare conditions to make navigating the backwoods and off-piste areas easier.

Frame Width: 137 mm. | Nose Bridge Width: 18 mm. | Polarized: Yes | Unisex: Yes

Best for Cycling: Oakley RadarLock Path

Oakley RadarLock Path
Courtesy of Oakley
What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Temple and nose grips add security

  • Comes with carrying case

What We Don't Like
  • Won't fit larger faces

  • More expensive

A long-time favorite among cyclists, Oakley's RadarLock Path sunglasses offer lenses with its HDO technology—meaning clear, less-distorted vision and better refraction than regular lenses, plus they block UVA, UVB, and UVC rays and blue light up to 400 nm. They’re extremely lightweight, made with temple and nose grips that grip the more you sweat, and offer secure and quick lens replacement if needed, too.

Frame Width: 138 mm. | Polarized: Yes | Unisex: Yes

Best for Men: Sunski Treeline Sunglasses

Sunski Treeline Sunglasses

 Courtesy of Sunski

What We Like
  • Side flaps block out sun

  • Lifetime warranty

  • Good for snow and water sports

What We Don't Like
  • Might be too loose on small faces

Sunski's Treeline sunglasses combines practical design with sustainability, so you can feel good wearing them every day. Modeled after ski googles and classic aviators, these glasses feature polarized lenses that are ideal for most outdoor activities and reduce eye strain. They also come with removable sun shield side panels that prevent fogging and side glare during high-intensity adventures. Best of all, Sunski makes its Treeline sunglasses with recycled materials and offers a lifetime warranty. While these oversized frames fit well on men's faces, they're unisex, making them great for gifting too.

Lens Width: 50 mm. | Nose Bridge Width: 22 mm. | Polarized: Yes |
Unisex: Yes

“Polarized lenses help to significantly reduce glare. They also give you added contrast. You may feel like colors seem vibrant again.” — Dr. Leigh Plowman, Founder, Dry Eye Directory

Best for Women: Le Specs Women's Unreal Sunglasses

Le Specs Unreal Sunglasses

Courtesy of Le Specs

What We Like
  • Stylish

  • Affordable

  • 6-month warranty

What We Don't Like
  • Not as much coverage

  • Doesn't work well on fit larger faces

Le Spec's sunglasses are reasonably priced—most hover around $60 to $80—but they’re also extremely well made and durable, so you’ll get more than just one summer out of them. The Unreal sunglasses are a modern take on the traditional 1990s look, with a thicker profile and gold hardware. Besides good looks, they also come with category 3 UV protection.

Lens Width: 52 mm. | Nose Bridge Width: 16 mm. | Polarized: No | Unisex: No

Best Prescription: Warby Parker Dorian

Warby Parker Dorian

Courtesy of Warby Parker

What We Like
  • Bold

  • Provide good clarity

  • Free at-home try on period

What We Don't Like
  • Arms can be bent easily

  • Doesn't have a nose bar

Warby Parker has made a name for itself in providing affordable, quality eyeglasses. The company’s sunglasses are no different: just like its regular glasses, you can pick some out to try online, have them shipped home, and put in an order on the ones you liked most. The unisex Dorian sunglasses are the best of any pair of prescription shades—they're classic enough to go with anything, stylish enough to wear for many seasons to come, and playful enough to put you in a good mood on a sunny day.

Frame Width: 135 mm. | Nose Bridge Width: None | Polarized: No |
Unisex: Yes

Best Splurge: Persol 3225S

Persol 3225S

 Courtesy of Sunglass Hut

What We Like
  • Secure fit

  • Stylish

  • Customizable

What We Don't Like
  • Limited color options

  • Nosepads aren't adjustable

Italians are renowned for crafting well-made goods, and if you’re wanting to get one pair of sunglasses that will see you through the years, it’s hard to beat Persols. This model, which was originally designed in the 1980s, has staying power for a reason: they’ve got timeless style, top-quality lenses, and the world’s first patented system for eliminating that pesky temple squeezing. Other styles come with both trendy and classic designs, while collaborations with cool brands like A.P.C. keep things fresh. Better yet, add a monogram for an extra $10.

Frame Width: 145 mm. | Nose Bridge Width: 18 mm. | Polarized: No |
Unisex: Yes

Best Design: Topfoxx Women's Marilyn Polarized Sunglasses

Topfoxx Marilyn Polarized Sunglasses

Courtesy of Topfoxx

What We Like
  • Fashionable

  • Lightweight

  • UV 400 protection

What We Don't Like
  • Bendable

The Marilyns are a modern take on a traditional cat-eye pair of sunglasses, with just enough flare on the sides and a sleek top rim to give off some Ray-Ban vibes, too. We've squashed ours in suitcases, thrown them in purses, and even sat on them without them taking too much of a beating.

Lens Width: 53 mm. | Nose Bridge Width: 18 mm. | Polarized: Yes |
Unisex: No

Best for Travel: REKS Round Sunglasses

REKS Round Sunglasses

Courtesy of Walmart 

What We Like
  • Scratch-resistant

  • Durable

What We Don't Like
  • No nosepads

No, they don’t fold—but these sunglasses from Reks are virtually unbreakable. Opt for the memory-flex polycarbonate polarized version for crisp contrast. There are all sorts of coating on these sunglasses: multi-layer mirror, hydrophobic, scratch-resistant, and anti-reflective. Plus, they offer 100 percent UV400 protection. Throw them in a case, in your bag, or even sit on them—this pair will last and last.

Lens Width: 49 mm. | Nose Bridge Width: 22 mm. | Polarized: Yes |
Unisex: Yes

Final Verdict

We love that the Ray-Ban Classic Aviators (view at Amazon) suit most face types, feature a timeless silhouette, and come in a wide variety of colors. They're practical, too—with pop in prescription lenses, and the ability to block most blue light.

What to Look for in a Pair of Sunglasses

Activity

If you’re looking for a pair of sunglasses for cycling, they’re going to be very different from the sunnies you wear out for brunch. Sports sunglasses are built to wrap more tightly around your head, though their styling tends to be a bit much for everyday wear. Choose accordingly—and don’t be afraid to get two pairs. With care, each one will last a long time.

Style

Whether you want to go sporty or more fashion-forward there’s a pair out there for virtually everyone. Look in your closet to figure out what fits with your look.

Price

You can spend as much or as little as you want on sunglasses—they’re sold at virtually every price point. Our advice? Get a pair that works for you, in terms of functionality and looks, so that wearing them becomes a (fun) habit. Of course, if you’re prone to misplacing them—no judgment!—spending a lot might not be the best idea.

FAQs

What sunglass shape will fit your face shape best?

The best way for someone to ensure if a pair of sunglasses will work for their face shape is to try them on in person, and most retailers offer try-on periods with free return shipping. But there are a few rules of thumb considering best options. Round faces usually work well with aviator or square-shaped sunglasses. The reverse is true for square- and oblong-shaped faces where round sunglasses fit best. People with heart-shaped features should avoid oversized styles. And people who have an oval-shaped face are in luck because most sunglasses styles will fit well.

Also, be sure to take nose shape into consideration. Dr. Young recommends sunglasses with adjustable nose pads to help get the best fit. “If you have your heart set on a plastic frame without adjustable nose pads, check if the manufacturer offers a version of the frame with an extended nose bridge area, often called ‘alternative fit.’”

What's the best way to clean sunglasses?

Some sunglasses come with a cloth to wipe the lens clean with. Other residues on the arms can usually be wiped off with the same cloth or a slightly damp paper towel. Check the manufacturer's recommendation before cleaning the sunglasses for the first time.

What are the benefits of polarized sunglasses?

For those frequently out in conditions where there’s a lot of glare, polarized lenses could be useful for you. “I do recommend polarized sunglasses for almost any purpose,” Dr. Young says. “If you compare polarized and non-polarized sunglasses side by side, you will see what a huge difference it makes in reducing glare. Colors will seem more vibrant and your vision will feel sharper and more contrasted.” 

Those looking to find the right pair of polarized sunglasses, should consider the conditions they’ll be in. “Polarized grey lenses tend to appear the darkest tint available,” says Dr. Plowman. “Polarised brown lenses tend to be better for driving in mixed lighting (e.g. shadows and bright lights on the road at the same time). Polarised green (a.k.a. G15) lenses are also slightly less dark than grey.”

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