Updated on  September 21, 2023
3 min read

Gradient Sunglasses

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What are Gradient Sunglasses?

Gradient sunglasses pictured on a white studio background

Gradient sunglasses are two-tone sunglasses that are darker on one part and lighter on the other. This helps you wear the glasses both indoors and outdoors.

Gradient glasses are made by adding metal oxide to the lens material. It can be added during creation or applied to the lens's surface.

Where to Buy Sunglasses

Biggest Selection: GlassesUSA

Fastest Delivery: EyeBuyDirect

Best Independent Retailer: Warby Parker

How Do Gradient Sunglasses Work?

Gradient sunglasses have two shades: dark and light. They limit glare intensity from the sun while allowing you to look through a lighter part of the lens. 

Gradient sunglasses can make you more comfortable reading outside, playing sports in the sun, driving, or doing other outdoor activities.

On their own, gradient lenses don't block UV rays. Be sure to look for lenses with UV protection to protect your eyes.

Benefits of Gradient Sunglasses

Gradient sunglasses boast tons of benefits:

  • Keeps your eyes comfortable in the sun, but you can still see clearly inside or in shaded areas
  • Can shield your eyes from the sunlight and simultaneously allow some light through so you can read your dashboard while driving
  • Allows people to see your eyes through them while protecting your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays
  • Stylish and can make a fashion statement

What is the Difference Between Polarized and Gradient Sunglasses?

Polarized sunglasses protect your eyes from light reflecting off surfaces like:

  • Water
  • Snow
  • Asphalt
  • Sheet metal

They reduce the reflection by limiting specific wavelengths with a chemical that filters the light that meets your eye. Polarized lenses absorb horizontal light waves (glares) but allow vertical waves to travel through.

Polarized lens illustration of reflected light vs clear light

On the other hand, gradient tint sunglasses feature a tint that gradually changes from a darker to a lighter shade to reduce glare. The tint does not block UV rays from actually harming your eyes.

Because they reduce the light's intensity, they can also cause your pupils to dilate. This can pose problems because dilated pupils allow UV rays to enter your eye more easily, leading to adverse effects.

Should You Get Polarized Or Gradient Sunglasses?

Whether you're buying polarized or gradient sunglasses, both sunglasses offer different benefits. Here are a few things you should consider when choosing one over the other:

  • UV protection
  • Environment
  • Cost
  • Usability

Polarized sunglasses are better for high-glare environments like water or snow. Meanwhile, Gradient lenses are preferred for afternoon and daytime driving. Regardless, you should ensure that your lenses provide 100% UV light protection.

What is the Difference Between Standard and Gradient Lens Tint?

A standard lens tint is just one shade. It can come in different colors, but the lens will be the same color.

A gradient lens tint moves from a dark to a light shade. They can also come in different colors.

Both sunglasses will help prevent the sun from hurting your eyes by limiting the intensity of the light. While standard tint shades will give you more coverage, a gradient lens tint may make more sense if you wear your glasses inside and outside.

Gradient lenses can be beneficial if you use them for driving. This is because you’ll need to look outside but still be able to read the dashboard inside your car.

Types of Gradient Sunglasses

There are two different types of gradient sunglasses that help shield your eyes from sunlight. These are:

Single Gradient Lenses

Single gradient lenses are darker on the top and lighter on the bottom. This can cut out glares from the overhead sunlight in the sky while still allowing you to look through the bottom of the lens to see clearly.

Double Gradient Lenses

Double gradient sunglasses are darker on the top and bottom and are lighter in the middle. This helps cut out glares from the sun in the sky and the sun’s reflection off the ground, such as from snow or asphalt.


Gradient sunglasses will shield your eyes from the sun and may make everyday life outdoors — driving, reading, or exercising easier. However, weighing your sunglass options is essential to determine what lenses are best for you. If you need added protection or prescription lenses, gradient sunglasses might not be enough. 

Best Places to Buy Glasses

Best Overall

Warby Parker has stylish, high-quality frames at affordable prices.

Also Great

Liingo Eyewear is another great option to buy glasses online.

Best on a Budget

EyeBuyDirect has a wide variety of budget frames starting at $6.

Best Places to Buy Contacts

Best Overall

1-800 Contacts is our #1 recommendation to buy contacts online.

glasses usa logo
Also Great

GlassesUSA has a huge selection of contacts, glasses, & sunglasses.

Updated on  September 21, 2023
6 sources cited
Updated on  September 21, 2023
  1. “Polarized Lenses and How They Work.” Dr. Floyd Smith | Optometrist, Westwood, NJ 07675, 2013.

  2. “Recommended Types of Sunglasses.” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2018

  3. “Tinted Lenses.” Emily Eye Care, LLC.

  4. “Sunglasses Brands: Sunglass Hut.” Sunglass Hut Online Store

  5. Surrence, M. “Tinted vs. Polarized Glasses - What's Better?: Zenni Optical.” The Zenni Blog, 2020

  6. “What Are Polarized Lenses For?” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2019.

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