Evidence Based

Gradient Sunglasses

What are Gradient Sunglasses?

Gradient sunglasses are two-tone sunglasses that are darker on one part and lighter on the other. This is helpful for wearing the glasses both indoors and outdoors. The darkest part of the lenses may vary in density to suit individual preferences.

gradient sunglasses

This kind of eyewear is made by adding the substance metal oxide to the lens material. It can be added during creation or may be applied to the surface of the lens.

How Do Gradient Sunglasses Work?

Gradient sunglasses have two shades — dark and light. They work by limiting the intensity of glares from the sun while still giving you the option to look through a lighter part of the lens. 

While gradient sunglasses don’t necessarily block UV light from reaching your eyes, they can make you more comfortable while reading outside, playing sports in the sun, driving, or doing other activities while you’re outdoors.

What are the Benefits of Gradient Sunglasses?

Gradient sunglasses boast tons of benefits:

  • Gradient sunglasses help to keep your eyes comfortable in the sun while you’re outside, but you can still see clearly when you’re inside or in shaded areas.
  • Gradient sunglasses are ideal for driving because they can shield your eyes from the sunlight and simultaneously allow some light through so you can read your dashboard.
  • Gradient sunglasses allow people to still see your eyes through them while still giving you the protection you need against the sun’s harmful UV rays. This, of course, can enhance eye contact.
  • Gradient sunglasses are touted for their looks. Though not a health benefit, they 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, and sheet metal. They reduce the reflection by limiting specific wavelengths with a chemical that filters the light that meets your eye. Polarized sunglasses absorb horizontal light waves (glares) but allow vertical waves to travel through.

polarized sunglass

Gradient tint sunglasses feature a tint that gradually changes from a darker to lighter shade to reduce glare. The tint does not block UV rays from actually harming your eyes. Rather, it just makes the impact of the sun’s rays feel less intense when they meet your eyes. 

Since they reduce the intensity of the light, however, they can also cause your pupils to dilate. This can pose problems because dilated pupils can allow UV rays to enter your eye easier. Gradient sunglasses may, therefore, have adverse effects and do more bad than good. These lenses must also have a UV treatment to provide 100% UV blocking benefits.

Whether you are purchasing gradient or polarized sunglasses, make sure they also provide 100% UV 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 whole lens will be the same color. Meanwhile, a gradient lens tint moves from a dark to a light shade. They can also come in different colors, so you might have a grey gradient tint, a brown gradient tint, or even a blue gradient tint, for example.

Both sunglasses will help prevent the sun’s glares 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 for you if you are wearing your glasses both inside and outside. Gradient lenses can be beneficial if you’re going to use them for driving, where you’ll need to be looking outside but still able to read the dashboard inside your car.

Whether you choose standard or gradient lenses is entirely up to you and your lifestyle.

Types of Gradient Sunglasses

There are two different types of gradient sunglasses:

  1. 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.
  1. Double gradient lenses. Double gradient lenses are darker on top, but they’re also darker on the bottom and are lighter in the middle. These help cut out glares from both the sun in the sky and the sun’s reflection off the ground, such as from snow or asphalt.

Both options will help to shield your eyes from the sunlight, whether you opt for cat eye sunglasses, round sunglasses, square sunglasses, aviator sunglasses, or something else entirely. You can find both types of women’s and men’s sunglasses at most sunglass retailers and luxury brand stores:

  • Ray-Ban
  • Oakley
  • Persol
  • Burberry
  • Gucci
  • Prada
  • Versace
  • Christian Dior
  • Dolce & Gabbana
  • Oliver Peoples
  • Givenchy
  • Havana
  • Marc Jacobs
  • Maui Jim
  • Wayfarer
  • Tom Ford

Gradient sunglasses will keep your eyes shielded from the sun and may make everyday life outdoors — driving, reading, exercising, or more — easier. But it’s important to weigh all of your sunglass options to determine what types of lenses are best for you. If you need added protection or prescription lenses, gradient sunglasses might not be enough for you. 

Author: AnnaMarie Houlis | UPDATED September 22, 2020
Medical reviewer: MELODY HUANG, O.D. 
Resources

“Blog.” Coyote Eyewear, coyotesunglasses.com/are-gradient-polarized-sunglasses-the-right-pair-for-you/.

“Polarized Lenses and How They Work.” Dr. Floyd Smith | Optometrist, Westwood, NJ 07675, 31 July 2013, drfloydsmith.com/polarized-lenses-and-how-they-work-3/.

“Recommended Types of Sunglasses.” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 28 Feb. 2018, www.aao.org/eye-health/glasses-contacts/sunglasses-recommended-types

Shelia. “Tinted Lenses.” Emily Eye Care, LLC, www.drlilyyeh.com/products/tinted-lenses/

“Sunglasses Brands: Sunglass Hut.” Sunglass Hut Online Store, www.sunglasshut.com/us/Sunglasses-Brands

Surrence, Matthew. “Tinted vs. Polarized Glasses - What's Better?: Zenni Optical.” The Zenni Blog, 25 June 2020, www.zennioptical.com/blog/tinted-vs-polarized-glasses-whats-better/

Westsideoptometrynow.com, westsideoptometrynow.com/polorized-vs-gradient-sunglasses/

“What Are Polarized Lenses For?” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 14 Jan. 2019, www.aao.org/eye-health/glasses-contacts/polarized-lenses.

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