How much time do you spend in your car? Half an hour on the commute from home to work? More? On your way, is there a big ball of blinding light coming up from the eastern horizon? Ouch. Maybe you could use some driving sunglasses.
But wait, you say—I already have sunglasses.
We don’t doubt you. For many people the same pair of sunglasses does double duty in and out of the car. But did you know a pair of driving sunglasses can make your drive more comfortable and safe? Read on.
- Driving sunglasses are specially designed to admit between 18% and 43% of light. Compare this to beach sunglasses, which may admit as little as 5%—far too little for you to see the road clearly. This is especially important on those mixed days when the sun goes in and out behind the clouds, or you go in and out of tunnels. If you’d like your lenses to adjust automatically to changes in brightness, consider photochromic lenses, which darken with exposure to UV radiation. (However, they may not darken fully in your car if the windshield filters UV.)
- Driving sunglasses are tinted to optimize visibility while driving. This means gray, brown or copper—tints that won’t distort the colors you need to see correctly. Tints such as pink, blue, red, or green are a no-go for driving because they distort traffic light/sign colors. Yellow sunglasses are good for sharpening your view of the road on a sunny day but they do cause some color distortion, so they mustn’t be worn at night.
- Driving sunglasses may be polarized to reduce glare. It’s not just direct sun that’s dangerous when driving; glare can be just as blinding. All around you are reflective surfaces, from the shiny surfaces of other vehicles to surfaces like water, snow, or wet roads. Polarized lenses work sort of like venetian blinds, selectively eliminating light wavelengths that cause glare. This can noticeably improve clarity and cut down on driver fatigue.
- Driving sunglasses (and all good sunglasses) offer UV400 protection. This means they block both UVA and UVB radiation. You might think the darker the glasses are, the more protection they offer, but this is a myth; even clear, untinted lenses can be UV400-protective. In fact, lighter tints may actually be safer because they don’t cause your pupils to dilate as much as darker tints do, which means less light enters your eyes. Remember, the level of UV protection has nothing to do with the lens color or degree of tint.
- Driving sunglasses are designed to allow good peripheral vision. Good choices include aviator shades, wraparounds, and other styles without bulky detail at the temples. Oversize frames can obstruct your vision, as can frames with ornate detail, such as cat-eyes.
What’s the takeaway? Your fave beach sunglasses might be great for reading a book by the ocean but not the best choice for driving. Sounds like a good excuse to shop for a dedicated pair of driving sunglasses!
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