Are Prescription Sunglasses Worth It?

Many people wonder whether prescription sunglasses are worth the cost. After all, you don’t wear them all the time and they can be quite expensive.

If that’s you, you’re in the right place.

In this post, we’ll explore the pros and cons of prescription sunglasses and discuss ways you can save money if you decide to get a pair.

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Benefits of Prescription Sunglasses

Clear Vision and Shading Without Contacts

woman wearing sunglasses and a red hat

If you wear prescription glasses, no doubt you deal with one of the major annoyances – they don’t provide adequate shading from the sun when you’re outdoors.

The only way to keep your vision 20/20 with regular sunglasses is to wear contact lenses. But not everyone can or wants to.

After all, contacts might not be right for everyone. They can be downright bothersome for some people, particularly those who suffer from dry eyes, allergies, or astigmatism.

Protect Your Eyes from Damaging UV Rays and Diseases

man wearing sunglasses that block UV rays

The beauty of prescription sunglasses is that they don’t just correct your vision – they also protect your eyes against 100% of the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Exposure to UVA/UVB rays can escalate the risk of cataracts, macular degeneration, and a host of other eye-related problems.

It goes without saying that eye protection is paramount to preventing vision and eye-health issues as you age, especially if you’re already wearing prescription glasses.

More Tint Control Than Photochromic (Transitions™ Lenses)

woman facing bright sun with sunglasses

Photochromic lenses, well-known under the brand name Transitions™, are a popular choice, but they have their limitations.

They may not darken as much as traditional non-light-adjusting lenses in bright conditions, which can leave you still squinting in the sun.

Additionally, photochromic lenses don’t generally darken while driving due to windshield treatments that block UV light.

In contrast, polarized sunglass lenses offer optimal performance under bright, sunny conditions and in scenarios with significant reflection or glare, like water or snow surfaces.

Standalone prescription sunglasses may very well be a better alternative for certain individuals.

Are Transition Lenses Worth It?

Enhance Your Vision and Style

EyeBuyDirect Maui

Prescription sunglasses can do more than just enhance your vision – they can amplify your personal style.

Functionally, they provide you with good clarity and contrast, especially under bright or high-glare conditions.

Plus, they come in a wide variety of designs and colors so you can change up your look from your regular glasses.

Prescription sunglasses are particularly useful if you need sport performance shades that don’t just shade your eyes from the sun, but help protect your eyes from the elements in active outdoor pursuits.

Drawbacks of Prescription Sunglasses

More Expensive Than Regular Sunglasses

hands holding open empty wallet

As with anything custom-made, prescription sunglasses are pricier than their non-prescription counterparts. 

On average, prescription sunglasses will set you back between $150-500 depending on the brand, frame and lens options you choose.

And if you add extra coatings or treatments such as mirrored lenses or polarization, the final price will be even higher.

Need to Carry an Extra Set of Glasses

The convenience of prescription sunglasses does come with a trade-off: the need to lug around an extra set of glasses.

Whenever you’re out and about, you’ll have to remember to bring along your prescription sunglasses or spend your day squinting in the sun.

Your Prescription May Change Over Time

woman getting vision checked with machine

Of course, your prescription can change as the years go by. That means that not only will you need to update your regular glasses, you’ll probably need to update your prescription sunglasses too.

Obviously, this can be inconvenient and expensive to accommodate.

Consider this: the average person may need to update their prescription every two years.

If your prescription hasn’t changed too drastically, it’s possible to get away with not updating your prescription sunglass lenses, but you’ll definitely want to do so if your vision changes significantly.

Insurance Coverage for Prescription Sunglasses

Does Insurance Cover Prescription Sunglasses?

vision insurance form

Yes, insurance can cover prescription sunglasses. However, the extent of coverage varies by plan.

Some plans may cover the entire cost, while others may give you a pre-set copay or discount percentage on frames and lenses.

Some plans might not cover prescription sunglasses at all.

For definitive answers, review your plan benefits or contact your provider for exact coverage amounts.

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) or Health Savings Accounts (HSA)

Great news for those with Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) or Health Savings Accounts (HSA): you can absolutely use these funds to purchase prescription sunglasses.

Prescription sunglasses are considered a medical device because they are custom-made to correct your vision.

This makes them an eligible expense under most FSA and HSA plans.

monkey meme

What to Do If Insurance Doesn’t Cover Or You Don’t Have Insurance

If you’re paying for prescription sunglasses out of pocket, there are other ways to save. Look for discounts or promotional offers, as these can significantly reduce costs.

Also, don’t shy away from independent or non-designer labels. These brands often offer similar quality at a much lower price.

Another great option if you’re trying to save on prescription sunglasses is to buy them at an online optical retailer.

You can get a very nice pair of Rx sunglasses shipped to your door without breaking the bank at EyeBuyDirect or Zenni Optical as long as you have a valid prescription.

Lastly, keep an eye out for sales events like Black Friday or end-of-season sales. With some savvy shopping, you can get your hands on a stylish and affordable pair of prescription sunglasses.

How to Choose the Best Prescription Sunglasses for You

Consider Your Lifestyle and Activities

man running on track

When it comes to choosing prescription sunglasses, think about your lifestyle and activities.

Are you an outdoor sports enthusiast? Look for sunglasses with impact-resistant frames and lenses and consider polarized lenses to reduce glare.

Drive a lot? Opt for anti-reflective coating to reduce glare, and consider gradient lenses to balance overhead sunlight with a clear view of the dashboard.

Or perhaps you’re a fashionista at heart. You’ll love bold, trendy styles like oversize shades, cat eye frames, or something with a bit of bling. Your glasses should match your vibe, after all!

Consult Your Eye Doctor and Optician

Before you even start browsing for the perfect pair of prescription sunglasses, make sure you have a valid prescription on hand.

If you don’t have one or it’s expired, make an appointment to get an eye exam.

It’s also a great idea to seek professional advice from your eye doctor and optician. They’ll guide you on the best options for your unique vision needs and preferences.

Have a few questions ready to ask them, such as what type of lens material they recommend, whether you need extra protection from the sun (like UV coating, tinting, or polarization), and if there are any special coatings that might help.

After all, if you’re spending money to get Rx sunglasses, you want them to be just right!

Bottom Line

If you’re someone who spends a significant amount of time outdoors or don’t wear contact lenses, prescription sunglasses can be a game changer.

Not only do they protect your eyes from harmful UV rays, they also give you 20/20 vision at the same time.

While they may require a bit of an investment upfront, the benefits they offer in terms of eye health and visual clarity make them well worth it. 

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