Spring Fever Checklist: Shopping for Shades

When it comes to sunglasses, passions can run deep…especially for runners. Some of us swear by the pair we bought at a gas station in 2007 and others insist that they can’t properly protect their eyes for anything that doesn’t cost $100+ and come in a little black pouch.

We aren’t here to pass judgement on one camp or the other. But there are a few general principles of sunglasses selection that we can all agree on, which hold true no matter what your favorite style or price point. If you’re in the market for a new set of shades, keep a few things in mind as you shop.

Earpieces, nosepiece. Your ears and nose are obviously the two spots that matter most when it comes to overall fit and comfort. As you try on glasses, make sure that they rest securely on your face without hurting the tops of your ears or sliding on your nose. Slippery sweat and bouncy movement is going to try and pull them down your nose and off of your face, so if they are slipping at all at the store, don’t count on them performing well when you run.

Lenses. At a bare minimum, make sure whatever you buy is labeled for 100% UV protection, otherwise you simply aren’t protecting your eyes from the sun. Even inexpensive sunglasses can do the trick, just be sure to check. As for polarization, this is just an issue when it comes to glare. If you’re going to be near water or running when the road is wet and reflective, you might opt for something polarized. Most of the time, though, it just isn’t necessary.

Comfort and style. Just like the rest of your running stuff, comfort is key. Make sure you get something that is going to meet your needs — enough coverage to block the sun from all angles, sporty enough to stay on your head, lightweight enough not to weigh you down. Remember, you’re shopping for running gear here, not making a fashion statement. The good news is that a good pair of sunglasses can get the job done while looking plenty cool in the process.

Prescription? If you wear eyeglasses, consider getting a prescription pair of sunglasses. It’ll be that much easier to hit the road on a sunny day and you won’t have to worry about fussing with contacts or sacrificing sight for sun protection. It’s also a great way to take advantage of those buy-one-get-one glasses offers you see when you’re shopping for regular frames. Another bonus is that vision insurance sometimes kicks in for a good chunk of the cost.

So you tell us, sunglass connoisseurs: What do you wear? Let us know in the comments!

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