Four Tips On How To Buy A Pair Of Sunglasses

Things You Should Consider Before You Buy An Expensive Pair Of Sunglasses

Photograph of Paula Creamer Wearing Sundog Sunglasses
Photo Courtesy of Sundog Eyewear

Yes, I know, now's not the time to be thinking about sunglasses.... Or is it? They make great gifts for the holidays, and there are discounts to be had. So, here are four tips on how to buy a pair of sunglasses. If you don't know what you're doing, you can do yourself more harm than good. Some people have an attraction for shiny things: pocket knives, for instance, even guns. Me? I have a thing for sunglasses. Not only do they look good, just putting on a pair makes me feel so much better. There's never a time when I'm not looking to buy a new pair.

With all of the advances in optical technology, style and design, however, buying sunglasses is not simply a matter of grabbing a pair and heading out into the sunshine. There are several things you should consider before you buy an expensive pair of sunglasses:

Ultraviolet Light:

Ultraviolet radiation from the sun is a hazard that’s grossly underestimated, by outdoors-men and women in general and by golfers in particular – I think it has something to do with making that all-important putt.

UV rays are particularly hazardous to our eyesight. They cause cataracts, macular degeneration and host of other ailments including one I’ve suffered from for more years than I can count: skin cancer. Fortunately, 99% of UV rays never reach the earth. The other 1% that does is of real concern.

The stat’s say that golfers are 50% more likely to contract a UV-related eye ailment than the rest of the population. I, therefore, consider a really good pair of golf sunglasses essential to my good health. A good pair should block at least 98% of UV light. If not, don’t buy them.


Contrary to what you might think, light doesn’t travel in a straight line: it bounces back and forth from one reflective surface to another. This causes glare, especially from glass, water, shiny green grass and even white sand – sand traps and beach.

Polarized lenses permit only vertical light rays to pass through them, not horizontal, and thus they reduce glare.

Now, some people say, and I must admit I’m one of them, that polarized sunglasses do NOT help when reading the green. It’s an arguable point and I’m not an expert in such matters, but… I just don’t feel comfortable wearing polarized glasses on the green. And, as my game is not all it should be anyway….

The Colors Of Glass:

I’m talking lenses here. First, you should know that the color of the lens has nothing to do with polarization. It can, however, have an effect on depth perception, clarity, and even glare.

You’ll have noticed that most sunglasses have grey lenses. That’s not an accident. Grey is THE neutral color: it does not distort color or effect contrast. Professional photographers use neutral density (grey) filters to reduce the amount of light entering the lens. Such a filter has no effect on color or contrast whatsoever.

Red (and all shades of it) does effect contrast; it enhances it. It also distorts other colors.

Brown and Green lenses enhance depth perception, reduce glare, and increase contrast and clarity.

Yellow and Orange lenses increase both contrast and depth perception.

The color of the chosen lens is something you need to consider very carefully before you buy. Don’t just try them on the pro shop. Take them out into the light, preferably sunlight. But don’t stop there, make a few trial putts. If you’re intending to spend a couple of hundred dollars on your glasses, you’d better make sure you FEEL comfortable in them.

Frames - Style:

There are several things to consider here - weight, durability and style. Yup, I put style last, but I know you won't, and I certainly don't either. But it really should be the minor consideration when buying a pair of sunglasses. You are going to be wearing them over a long period - a round of golf lasts at least four hours - so they should be light-weight. They should also be durable - nylon seems to be the most popular choice among the pros. It's extremely durable and weighs very little.

Finally (well, maybe), how good do you look in them? Now, I gotta tell you. If they don't look good, I'm not going to buy them. Nope, there's no point in telling me I have to do what I preach, I'm not going to wear something that makes me look like a nerd.

Oh, and while we're talking style, those neat-looking, wrap-around models do have practicalities above and beyond looking cool: they can eliminate glare creeping in around the lenses and, on a breezy day, will keep the dust out of your eyes.

A good pair of sunglasses will help your game in oh so many ways: you'll see better, your eyes will feel more comfortable and last, but not least, you'll cut the odds of your contracting cataracts or some other dread ailment of the eye. Take your time and choose wisely.

Sunglasses - Product Reviews:

  • Peak Vision Sunglasses
  • Mike Weir Golf Sundog Sunglasses
  • The Phantom Sunglasses By Sundog
  • NYX Golf Sunglasses
  • 535s Sunglasses

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Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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