Health + Prevention

What sunglasses are right for your favorite activity?

There's a perfect pair of sunglasses for any occasion

27 July 2021

More than a cool look: a good pair of sunglasses isn't just a stylish accessory – it also helps provide optimum vision in bright sunlight and protects your eyes from harmful UV radiation. However, not every pair of sunglasses is equally well-suited for every situation. Whether playing sports, spending time on the beach or heading up into the mountains – depending on when you'll wear your sunglasses, there are different factors you should keep in mind. Our sun protection categories will help you find the right sunglasses for your situation. We'll explain what level of protection you need, how the different sun protection categories vary, and which pair of sunglasses is best-suited for a particular activity.

  • What sunglasses are right for your favorite activity?

Protection, style and convenience all year long

A good pair of sunglasses means you'll better enjoy the sunny side of life. However, this requires sunglass lenses that accommodate your needs and daily routines. Keep in mind that the better the fit to the individual wearer, the more comfortable the sunglasses are. So if your eyes are sensitive to bright light, then you should choose a somewhat darker tint. Bright and gradient tints are ideal on cloudy days with little sunlight, whereas dark tints protect your eyes in strong sunshine.

Please note:  when selecting sunglasses or glasses with tinted lenses, make sure they provide complete UV protection up to 400 nm1. Sunglass lenses from ZEISS offer this protection – no exceptions.  But the benefits don't stop there:  with the right add-ons, these lenses improve color and contrast perception and minimize unpleasant  glare  caused by bright sunshine or distracting reflections.

Eyeglasses that adapt

Any eyeglass wearer knows that, without glasses, you don't see clearly. Hence it's great to have a pair of sunglasses with your prescription. Unfortunately, they’re often suddenly too dark – either when you enter a store from outside, move from the sunlight into the shade, or when it suddenly turns cloudy while playing sports outdoors. Yet just taking off your glasses isn't a solution since won’t be able to see clearly and your eyes won’t be protected. It’s inconvenient to constantly change your glasses. That's inconvenient. With PhotoFusion X lenses by ZEISS, your glasses will change from light to dark quickly in all lighting situations, ensuring optimum vision. Your eyeglasses will continue to act as both clear eyeglasses and sunglasses – trendy, stylish and, of course, with full UV protection up to 400 nm.

Remember: since even on cloudy days UV light can damage your eyes, clear spectacle lenses should protect them from UV radiation.  Learn more about UV protection in clear lenses here...

Which sunglasses are right for which situation?

Basically, we differentiate between three main situations where you need sunglasses: for the city, driving, and sports. There is an optimum tint intensity for any given situation so that your sunglasses are neither to dark nor to bright. You can choose from tint levels ranging from 0 to 97 percent light absorption – in line with the light intensity and when you'll be wearing your sunglasses.

  • Sunglasses for strolling through town or when indoors (very low light intensity)

    Sunglasses for strolling through town or when indoors (very low light intensity)

    The perfect companion when shopping – and a stylish accessory while indoors: for cloudy days out-and-about in the city or when inside, sunglasses lenses with a light absorption of 0 to 20 percent are optimally suited for the urban environment. Whether with a gradient or solid tint, such as grey, bright blue or rosé, they're a real head-turner, too. Check out our nearly unlimited selection of lens tints – you're sure to find your favorite color! Looking for a tint to fit your fashion style or a pair of unconventional frames? No problem – you'll be surprised at the range of options available!

  • Sunglasses for days with only minimum sunshine (low light intensity)

    Sunglasses for days with only minimum sunshine (low light intensity)

    The sky might be cloudy, but every now and again the sun peeks through: on those days with a bit of sunshine, sunglass lenses with mid-range light absorption of 20 to 60 percent are perfect for spending time in the city. Trendy tints like blue, green or pink adjust perfectly to these light conditions. If you're looking for a particularly convenient solution, opt for the self-tinting lenses with  PhotoFusion® X Technology  by ZEISS.

  • Sunglasses for on the beach and in the water (mid-range light intensity)

    Sunglasses for on the beach and in the water (mid-range light intensity)

    Blue skies, bright sunshine and not a cloud as far as the eye can see: the perfect weather for your vacation! When spending time on the water and at the beach with mid-range light intensity, we suggest you get sunglass lenses with 57 to 82 percent light absorption. The tints in these categories and a mirror coating provide outstanding protection with a casual look – a winning combination! AdaptiveSun sunglass lenses from ZEISS are ideal for anyone who likes to alternate between the sun and the shade: these feature a base tint and turn even darker in sunlight – for optimum but still convenient UV protection.

  • Sunglasses for cyclists (mid-range light intensity)

    Sunglasses for cyclists (mid-range light intensity)

    A lot of cyclists know what it's like to move quickly from bright sunlight to shade and back again. Sometimes their sunglasses are too bright, sometimes too dark, even though they should offer optimum visual comfort in any light. Thus the best option for cyclists is ZEISS sunglass lenses with light absorption between 57 and 82 and a somewhat brighter tint. Amber and rosé, for example, have proved ideal when biking and in little to no sunlight: these bright, high-contrast tints enable the eye to quickly and clearly identify tiny details – even in limited light. However, if you select a dark tint, the eye can no longer adapt quickly enough to changing light. For this reason, self-tinting lenses are not recommended for cyclists. You can find out which glasses are best-suited for cyclists here.

  • Sunglasses for golfers (mid-range light intensity)

    Sunglasses for golfers (mid-range light intensity)

    The golf course poses a number of challenges for our eyes, including bright sunshine and difficult transitions – and you'll need to keep your eye on the ball at all times to come in under par. Sunglasses not optimally adapted for the golf course limit your visual potential, and maybe even your chances at an outstanding score. Thus a good pair of sunglasses for golfers should not only darken, but improve contrast perception at the same time. In particular light to dark purple or yellow-orange tints increase contrast on green surfaces, optimizing contrast perception and enhancing contours on the fairway. This way the golfer can better identify breaks on the green and clearly assess the trajectory of the ball before swinging. Thus sunglass lenses with light absorption of 40 percent (solid "ProGolf" tint) or 75 and 25 percent (gradient "ProGolf grad" tint – not suitable for driving) are well-suited for golfers. Read more here about what golfers should watch out for when choosing glasses.

  • Sunglasses for driving (mid-range to high light intensity)

    Sunglasses for driving (mid-range to high light intensity)

    Feel safe and secure while enjoying maximum visual comfort: for optimum vision when sitting behind the wheel, your sunglass lenses must have a polarization filter to reduce distracting glare (caused by sunlight or reflections on the wet road) along with a tint suitable for driving. It is recommended that drivers get sunglass lenses or regular eyeglass lenses with 57 to 92 percent light absorption and a specially modified tint from ZEISS: the blue light filter in the lens increases contrast perception for sharper contours and more intense colors. The Skylet® Road tint intensity is well-suited for brighter-than-average conditions while still providing perfect vision when the sun disappears behind a cloud. If you'll be hitting the road in a convertible, then you should consider wrapped lenses for additional protection from the wind. Read more about lenses for drivers here.

  • Sunglasses for water sports (mid-range to high light intensity)

    Sunglasses for water sports (mid-range to high light intensity)

    Being on the water poses several different challenges to our eyes: the surface of the water reflects the sunlight, often resulting in irritating glare and reflections. Thus water sports aficionados like surfers and sailing enthusiasts benefit from sunglass lenses with an integrated polarization filter and a mirror coating. This minimizes irritating glare and ensures unimpeded vision. When it comes to tints for spending time on the water: generally, light absorption between 57 and 92 percent is ideal. With 90 percent absorption, ZEISS Sport sunglass lenses are specially designed to meet the challenging visual conditions posed by sailing and surfing. Please note: in order to absorb additional reflections from below or the side, wear wraparound sunglasses when playing water sports. You can learn more about what water sport enthusiasts should look out for when choosing a pair of glasses here.

  • Sunglasses for up in the mountains (extreme light intensity)

    Sunglasses for up in the mountains (extreme light intensity)

    Whether you're hitting the slopes, climbing or mountaineering, having a good pair of sunglasses is an absolute must! At high elevations such as up in the mountains, we need to protect our eyes from damage caused by UV radiation, because here harmful levels of UV light are generally present even if the sky is cloudy or it's foggy. In extreme light conditions, such as on a glacier at extremely high altitudes, sunglasses with light absorption of 80 to 95 percent and a very dark tint are the way to go. Wrapped lenses and frames are also recommended to prevent light entering from the side.

You can see that there is an optimum pair of sunglasses for every activity, whether indoors, on the golf course or up in the mountains. If you're unsure which tint intensity or color is best for you, talk with your eye doctor. And no matter what color tint you choose, make sure your lenses have a hard coating to protect them against scratches along with an anti-reflective coating to keep irritating reflections in the lens to a minimum.

All the benefits at a glance

Best choice for you - color tints

Share this article

  • 1

    A range of healthcare bodies and studies recommend advanced UV protection up to 400 nm. They include: the World Health Organization (WHO), International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and Health Physics. (2004): 87(2) 171-186, American Conference of Governmental and Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), ISO 21348 (definitions of Solar Irradiance Spectral Categories), Australian Sunlens Standard AS/NZS 1067:2003