When preparing to hit the open road on a motorcycle, selection of proper sunglasses is critical. Traveling at high speeds inevitably brings riders in contact with airborne irritants, such as dirt and debris, as well as other flying objects. And, if riding during the day, it is important to protect your eyes against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays and blinding glare. So how do you select the best sunglasses for motorcycling?
I use the following checklist when I recommend eyewear to patients that ride a motorcycle:
1. Frame Selection
2. Lens Material
3. Lens Color or Tint
First and foremost, the frame must fit properly. If a frame is too big, objects can get behind the lenses or the frame can be blown off your head. If a frame is too small, ventilation can be limited and lenses may fog up. I also like frames that have some face wrap. This helps keep the lenses close to the eyes and enhances aerodynamics. If you wear prescription glasses, the frame must be able to accommodate prescription lenses too.
Once a frame has been selected and properly fit, it is important to use a lens material that is impact resistant. I recommend polycarbonate lenses as they are lightweight and they are the safest material by industry standards. Do not use plastic or glass lenses as neither is impact resistant.
The final item on the checklist is the color of the lenses, more commonly referred to as the tint of the lenses. For daytime motorcycling, grey colored lenses are best for full sun conditions. Brown colored lenses are good in the sun and also enhance contrast on overcast days making them a good all-purpose choice. Polarization should be added to colored lenses to help minimize reflective glare.
For nighttime conditions, I recommend clear or yellow colored lenses. Dark colored lenses should not be used at night as they will decrease visibility. Photochromic lenses that change color in different lighting conditions can also be used for day- and nighttime. Lenses should also provide maximum ultraviolet (UV) protection.
Greg Besler, OD, FAAO