Choosing the Right Tint for Your Sunglasses

You can't judge sunglasses by their color. At least, not when it comes to eye protection. Tints don't reflect how well the lenses block UV (ultraviolet) light.

Sunglass lenses are treated with UV-absorbing chemicals. These chemicals are usually colorless. So clear lenses would block light just as well as dark ones. But they don't block glare.

So why are so many lens colors available? This article looks at the purpose of tinted lenses and the benefits of different colors.

Best uses for different sunglasses tints
Verywell / Gary Ferster

Purpose of Tints

Tints filter light in different ways. Some are better at blocking light. Some enhance colors while others distort them.

Tints can enhance your vision in some cases. You might like the look of one color over or another. But the pretty one may not be the best fit for your lifestyle.

Gray

Gray is a popular neutral tint. It allows your eyes to perceive colors in their purest form.

Gray tints reduce brightness and glare. Choose gray for:

  • Driving
  • Outdoor sports such as golf, running, or cycling

Yellow/Orange

Yellow and orange tints increase contrast in hazy, foggy, or low-light conditions. They tend to make objects appear sharper, both indoors and outdoors. But they can distort colors.

Choose yellow shades for:

  • Snow-related activities
  • Indoor ball sports
  • Nighttime use
  • Driving in the fog

You may want different lens colors for the same activity in different conditions. For example, skiers often use gray or brown tints on sunny days and yellow or orange when it's snowing or hazy.

Green

Green tints filter some blue light and reduce glare. They also offer high contrast and visual sharpness.

Green also tends to reduce eyestrain in bright light. Choose green for precision sports such as:

  • Tennis
  • Baseball
  • Golf

Amber/Brown

Amber and brown tints reduce glare and block blue light. They brighten vision on cloudy days. And they increase contrast and visual acuity.

They're especially useful against green and blue backgrounds, like grass and sky. Choose amber and brown tints for:

  • Fishing
  • Baseball
  • Golf
  • Hunting
  • Cycling
  • Water sports

Melanin Tints

Melanin—the pigment in your skin—is now available in sunglass tints. It's what your body uses to protect you from UV light. So manufacturers claim melanin-containing lenses protect your eyes from aging related to sun exposure.

Rose/Red

Rosy tints increase contrast by blocking blue light. They have a reputation for soothing the eyes. And they may be more comfortable for longer wear-times.

Choose red tints for:

  • Better visibility while driving
  • Reducing screen glare and eyestrain

Summary

Tinted sunglasses have different properties depending on their color. You can't gauge UV protection by color.

Gray is good for driving and outdoor sports. Yellow and orange increase contrast and are great in the snow. Green reduces glare.

Brown tones block blue light and increase contrast against the grass and sky. Reddish tints may be soothing and good for long car trips.

A Word From Verywell

When buying sunglasses, focus first on UV protection. Then, consider lens tints and what works best for you. You may find you like different ones for different purposes.

If you have vision problems or eye disease, ask your eye doctor about which color is best for you. Certain ones may offer special benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When should yellow lens sunglasses be used?

    Yellow lens sunglasses are best for snow-related activities, indoor ball sports, at night, or while driving in the fog. The same is true of orange tinted sunglasses, which can increase contrast in foggy, hazy, or low-light conditions.

  • What are the benefits of blue light glasses?

    Blue light glasses are believed by some people to reduce eye strain and prevent eye damage while reading a computer screen. However, there is no scientific evidence that blue lights from these devices cause any lasting harm. The strain that we feel from a long computer session is actually caused by blinking less often, resulting in dry eyes. Eye strain can be avoided by taking a 20 second or longer "screen break" every 20 minutes.

  • What color sunglasses are best for driving?

    Gray-tinted sunglasses are a good choice for driving. This color reduces brightness and glare.

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2 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. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Should you be worried about blue light?

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