Choosing the Right Tint for Your Sunglasses

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You can't judge a pair of sunglasses by its color, at least not for eye protection purposes. Tints and shades of sunglasses do not reflect UV (ultraviolet) blocking ability.

When sunglasses are made, the lenses are treated with UV-absorbing chemicals to be able to block UV light. Because these chemicals are usually colorless, clear lenses could block light just as well as dark-colored lenses. So why so many lens colors?

Best uses for different sunglasses tints
Verywell / Gary Ferster

Purpose of Tints

Tints filter light in different ways, and some tints do a better job at blocking light than others. Some tints actually enhance colors, while others distort them. Tints have the ability to enhance vision in certain situations. Although you may admire a certain tint color, it may not be the best one for your particular lifestyle.

Uses for Different Tints

Following is a handy tint guide for choosing sunglasses.

  • Gray: Gray is a popular neutral tint that allows the eyes to perceive colors in their purest form. Gray tints reduce brightness and glare. Choose gray for driving and outdoor sports such as golf, running, or cycling.
  • Yellow/Orange: Yellow and orange tints increase contrast in hazy, foggy, or low-light conditions. These tints tend to make objects appear sharper both indoors and outdoors, but can also cause color distortion. Choose yellow shades for snow activities and indoor ball sports. Yellow shades can also be helpful at nighttime as they increase contrast.
  • Green: Green tints filter some blue light and reduce glare, while offering high contrast and visual sharpness. Shades of green also tend to reduce eyestrain in bright light. Choose green for precision sports such as tennis, baseball, and golf.
  • Amber/Brown: Amber and brown tints reduce glare and block blue light, brightening vision on cloudy days and increasing contrast and visual acuity, especially against green and blue backgrounds such as grass and sky. Choose amber and brown tints for fishing, baseball, golf, hunting, cycling, and water sports.
  • Melanin: Melanin pigment in sunglass tints are said to protect the eyes from aging changes related to sun exposure.
  • Rose/Red: Rosy tints increase contrast by blocking blue light. They have a reputation of being soothing to the eyes and more comfortable than others for longer wear-times. They also help with visibility while driving, and seem to be a favorite among computer users as they reduce glare and eyestrain.

Additionally, some tinted sunglasses may help with various eye diseases by increasing contrast. Talk to your eye doctor about which color shade is best for you.

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Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Giannos SA, Kraft ER, Lyons LJ, Gupta PK. Spectral evaluation of eyeglass blocking efficiency of ultraviolet/high-energy visible blue light for ocular protection. Optom Vis Sci. 2019;96(7):513-522. doi:10.1097/OPX.0000000000001393

  2. Gil S, Le bigot L. Seeing life through positive-tinted glasses: color-meaning associations. PLoS ONE. 2014;9(8):e104291. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0104291

Additional Reading
  • Patients Pamphlet: Shopping Guide for Sunglasses, 243 N. Lindbergh Blvd. St. Louis, MO 63131. American Optometric Association (AOA).