Sunglasses: How to Choose the Right Tint for the Right Reason

Sunglasses: How to Choose the Right Tint for the Right Reason

Triathlons are scheduled in advance, and no one can predict the weather with which athletes will have to deal on the day of the competition.

Quality of vision is an integral part of an athlete's performance and when the big day comes, it is important to be ready to optimize it with the right choice of solar lenses.

Do you tend to match your sunglasses with the colour of your jersey? You should know that this might be a mistake!

While picking the style of the frame is an artistic choice and a matter of personal comfort, choosing the colour of the lens should be based on what your eyes need, the type of environment in which you will wear the sunglasses and with the current weather conditions. This is also true for open water swimmers, and swimming goggles are available in different colours, as well as polarized.

Good to Know

The lenses must absorb harmful ultraviolet rays. Most sunglasses are listed as UV 400, the category which provides nearly 100% protection from ultraviolet rays by blocking all of UVA and UVB light rays with wavelengths up to 400 nanometers. That being said, UV ray protection has nothing to do with the intensity of the tint. This treatment is almost colourless and can be applied to any clear or tinted lens, with or without prescription.

Sunglasses are recommended for all outdoor activities since solar radiation has been implicated in patients with cataracts and those with macular degeneration.

The lenses of your sunglasses should cut 70 to 85% of light.

Choosing the Right Colour

Grey: a good tint for everyday activities, it barely changes the perception of colours since grey is a neutral colour, and it offers good protection against glare. It is ideal for farsighted people.

Brown: especially recommended for driving a car, the brown tint absorbs blue light more than other tints and increases perceived brightness, which is useful for people with myopia, cataracts or retinal problems. Therefore, this tint is recommended for open-air activities because it allows to better perceive the surface of snow (skiing) or uneven terrain (hiking, mountain biking, mountain climbing).

Oranges, pink and purple: similar to brown when light is less intense.

Green: this tint greatly reduces glare but makes things look darker and, therefore, is harder to wear in darker weather or in low-light conditions. Hence, this tint is more useful in high brightness conditions.

Yellow: the use of this tint is controversial. If this tint appears to increase contrast, some studies have shown that the effect fades quickly after 20 to 30 minutes. Therefore, this is not a lens for daytime driving, but it can be effective for rifle shooting, skiing or hunting, when the activity is of short duration, under cloudy conditions or in a dusky light.

Blue: this tint has little known use when bought from a non-clinical place. It exists mostly for style reasons!

Polarized: lenses known as “polarized” better absorb rays coming from reflective surfaces such as water, snow, sand and asphalt, as well as the bumpers and windows on the car ahead of us. Hence, they reduce the glare affecting fishermen, skiers, motorists, etc. and provide a visual rest.

Photochromic: photochromic lenses darken when brightness increases. The UV rays that reach the glasses make them react and darken. Therefore, the driver behind a windshield does not fully benefit from the photochromic effect of his glasses because car windows already absorb UV rays a great deal.

This is why it's important to know your needs when choosing the right solar protection!


Carole Leduc, D.O., CAT(c)
Jean-Pierre Lagacé, optometrist, M. Sc.

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