Contrary to popular belief, UV protection is needed all year round — even on cloudy days. Without protection, your eyes can get sunburned the same way skin can. UV rays don’t just reflect off large bodies of water and snow, it also reflects off buildings, sand, cars, glass, mirrors, and a whole lot more.
So how do you tell if your polarized lenses are actually protecting your eyes? Not all sunglasses are created equal. That stylish pair of vintage sunglasses you find in a thrift shop or the cheap pair purchased at a gas station may seem like a good buy at the time but do they have the proper UV protection?
For all of your Vancouver summer sports needs, our optometrists have put together the ultimate guide to help make your choice easier. Rest assured, all of our recommendations are selected independently and we do not earn a commission if you shop through our links. Our patient-focused philosophy extends to helping you pick the best option for your lifestyle.
Without protection, your eyes can get sunburned the same way skin can.
UV Protection 101
Before we dive into our polarized lens recommendations, we’ll go over UV protection 101. We place a ton of focus on protecting our skin from sun damage, but frequently forget to do the same for our eyes. Just like sunscreen has SPF 15 to 50+, there are different levels of UV protection built into the lenses of sunglasses.
When looking for a pair of sunglasses, there are those with ultraviolet protection embedded into the lenses, and those that have it only as a coating on the lenses. When shopping for UV protective lenses, keep an eye out for labels that indicate “100% protection against both UVA and UVB” or “100% protection against UV 400.”
Class 1 & 2 UV Contact Lenses Explained
- Class 1 UV contact lenses block 96% of UVA rays and 100% of UVB rays.
- Class 2 UV contact lenses block 70% of UVA and 95% of UVB radiation.
Polarized Lenses for Cycling
Whether you are biking around the city, mountain biking, or distance racing, you need a clear and uninterrupted view of everything in sight. The Tifosi Slice Sunglasses are totally rimless giving unparalleled visibility and increased air circulation that reduces fogging. In addition, the hydrophilic nose and earpieces were created to get grippier when wet, so you can out bike those classic Vancouver rain storms.
UV Protective Lenses for Spike Ball
Spike ball is a hand eye coordination game. This means you may want to avoid sunglasses to avoid knocking them off your face and missing a pivotal spike! If you are just taking advantage of the summer weather and playing a pick up game, you likely won’t want to invest in goggles that cost hundreds of dollars. Try a pair of polarized lenses from Ray Ban – these offer great UV protection and look fashion forward.
What about contact lenses? Acuvue Oasys 1-Day is the best daily contact lens for UV protection because it has Class I UV Blocking (the highest level of UV protection available in a contact lens). In addition, they offer substantial other benefits:
- Next-Gen Technology: Inspired by the way your tear film works to help reduce the feeling of dry eyes.
- Corrects Astigmatism: By reshaping the cornea (front surface of the eye) to correct its curvature. When the eyeball surface is shaped like a perfectly round ball, light is able to enter the eye and bend evenly to give you a clear image.
- Dry Eye Prevention: This contact lens has tear-like properties that work with your natural tear film each day, providing all-day performance and excellent comfort, vision and handling.
- Wide Parameter Range: This provides more successful fits for eyes of all shapes, sizes and powers.
Did you know contact lenses are not one-size-fits-all?
When we visit our optometrist for a new pair of glasses, we’re used to having our glasses meticulously fit. The frames are adjusted to the bridge of our nose, the lenses are centralized to the middle of our eyes, and the frames arms are adjusted to sit properly on our ears. That same precision is needed for contact lenses. A contact lens fitting is vital to ensure that the lenses fit each eye properly, your vision is good for distance and near, and your eye health is maintained.
Polarized Lenses for Ultimate Frisbee
For those of us who are BC or Vancouver based, ultimate frisbee season usually takes place from June to July and this is prime time for strong UV radiation. Having a pair of UV protective lenses that will stay on your face is vital.
The Oakley Men’s Half Jacket 2.0 Rectangular Sunglasses are crafted with polarized lenses and an optional prescription layer. Meaning, there is no need to compromise your vision while on the field. In addition to the lightweight, durable plastic frame, the no-slip ear and nose piece keeps them from slipping off your face when you are mid rush!
Between being impact-resistant and having three lens options (including a set of polarized lenses that cut down on glare), this is our top pick for ultimate players.
Polarized Lenses for SUP Boarding
Goggles may not seem necessary for most but there are many athletic activities where sunglasses are not ideal. For example, skiing, swimming, rock climbing and any outdoor activity near water or snow. Sports eyewear with polarized lenses and impact resistance are important to help prevent any injuries, limit UV exposure and to keep debris away from your eyes.
The Suncloud Slant Polarized Glasses anti-glare and polarized lenses are ideal to block light coming from the sun above and protect against the reflection from the water below. Plus, the glasses become stickier when they make contact with water or sweat, ensuring that they don’t slip and fall to the bottom of English Bay!
Polarized Lenses for Volleyball
While olympian volleyball players often sport goggles, UV protective contact lenses with transitions may be a better fit. Imagine going up for a block, lifting your hands and knocking off your glasses. Or digging for a spike and when you fall back after the dig, your glasses fall off.
Beach volleyball season in Vancouver often starts mid-July. The Acuvue Oasys 2-Week or Acuvue Vita Monthly contact lens both have the highest level of UV protection available in a contact lens (Class I UV Blocking). They also provide:
- Next-Gen Technology: Inspired by the way your tear film works to help reduce the feeling of dry eyes in a reusable lens option.
- Wide parameter range: Available with correction for near and farsighted prescriptions.
- It also has a reusable option that corrects astigmatism.
- Eye Breathability: The contact lenses are extremely breathable so that it feels almost like you’re wearing no lenses at all. Since contact lenses sit directly on your eyes, it reduces the oxygen flow to the eyes surface. This may seem inconsequential but having oxygen flow is important in keeping your eyes healthy and providing good comfort.
- Acuvue Oasys also comes in a transition option – the contact lenses tint when UV is present and turn clear when no UV is around.