9 reasons why you should wear sunglasses in winter

Heading into winter, you'll soon be layering up with coats, hats, and scarves.

Sunglasses probably aren't the first thing on your mind when it comes to cold-weather accessories. But believe it or not, sunglasses can actually be a crucial part of your winter wardrobe. Here are 9 reasons why you should wear sunglasses in winter.


9 reasons to wear sunglasses in winter 

Man wearing hat jacket and tortoise sunglasses on cold winter day

1. Sunglasses reduce reflected glare

During winter, cold wet weather increases the chances of reflected glare. Blindingly painful to look at, you'll have experienced this when sunlight reflects off a wet pavement, puddles or a lethally shiny road surface.

On bright cold days, sunlight bouncing-off flat shiny surfaces (like snow) becomes condensed and intensified. This harsh reflection makes it nearly impossible to see, especially if you're facing towards the sun.

To help with glare, sunglasses help darken dazzling strong reflections and help take the strain off your eyes. Not only will this be more comfortable, but it's much safer for tasks such as driving, cycling or walking next to busy roads.


Man with long hair and sunglasses wearing thick green coat on cold day

2.Protect your eyes from UV light

Stealthy and potentially dangerous, ultraviolet light (UV) light poses a strong threat to your eyes during winter. Whilst sunglasses look great and make it more comfortable for you to see, their main function is to provide sufficient UV protection - year round.

Invisible to the human eye, ultraviolet light frequencies are categorised as UVA, UVB and UVB, ranging between 100 to 400 Nanometres. Sunglasses rated as UV40 or UV400 block these frequencies of light and fully protect your eyes and surrounding skin.

Unprotected, without sunglasses, you run the risk of long term eye damage if you're regularly exposed to strong and long doses of UV. Conditions such as cataracts, macular degeneration and premature ageing of your skin are all potential problems you could face. This is why it's a good idea to wear sunglasses in winter.


Bright sunlight flooding through snow covered trees

3.Snow intensifies UV light

Strange as this may seem, the UV index can actually be higher in bright snowy conditions than during even the hottest days of summer. It's reported that as much as 80% of UV light is reflected from snow which nearly doubles your overall exposure.

Shining from above, reflected from below, this double whammy of UV light is why winter sunglasses are crucial for any kind of outdoor activity. For a your daily commute or a refreshing winter's walk, sunglasses will make it easier for you to see and keep your eyes safe from intensified UV light.



"UVB rays can burn and damage your skin year-round, especially at high altitudes and on reflective surfaces such as snow or ice. Snow reflects up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV light, so the rays hit you twice, further increasing your risk of skin cancer and premature aging."




Man sitting rubbing his eyes looking tired

4.Reduce visual fatigue

Squinting to see, you'll be familiar with that 'frazzled' feeling after a long day in the sun. In bright sunlight, your facial muscles (orbicularis oculi) automatically make you frown to protect your eyes. In crisp but sunny weather, this muscular strain can be incredibly tiring and can even lead to headaches.

A good pair of sunglasses with category 3 lenses will be dark enough to prevent you from having to strain to see properly. By reducing visual fatigue, your eyes and face will feel less taxed, leaving you to get on with enjoying the winter's sun.


Man wearing hat and sunglasses frame looking towards snow covered mountains

5.Prevent snow blindness

Although you probably won't tackle Everest this season, you may have heard of snow blindness; a condition caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun reflected off snow. It is a type of photokeratitis, which is the medical term for sunburnt corneas.


Even if you're not the adventurous type, long durations of overhead and reflected sun exposure can lead to temporary loss of vision. You can see why those crazy mountain folks wear such dark sunglasses for skiing, snowboarding or hiking. Bottom line? Protect your eyes properly with sunglasses when you're out in the snow.


Man with wooly hat beard and sunglasses frame standing outside on snowy day

6.Block out debris

Ever had a leaf slap you in the face? Sunglasses aren't just for keeping your eyes safe from the sun - they also offer protection against wind and loose debris. In winter, when the weather is cold and windy, sunglasses help to keep your eyes shielded from any harmful particles that may be in the air.

On blustery days, leaves or snow are easily whipped-up off the ground. As a layer of protection, sunglasses can shield your eyes from these windblown objects and any other irritants. Thick sunglasses with large lens coverage are especially good at blocking out airborne hazards.

By wearing sunglasses in winter, you're less likely to experience irritation or dryness in your eyes. Whether you're out walking in the park or on a winter holiday ski trip, make sure to bring your sunglasses along to keep your eyes safe, protected and comfortable.



Person standing in forest on cold winter day wearing hat coat and round black sunglasses frame

7.Good for cold day's out

Throughout winter, the days are shorter and the sun naturally sits lower in the sky. If you catch a spell of calm weather, say over a weekend, it's good to make the most of it and get outside.

In the name of good habits, make your sunglasses part of your winter routine. Stored safely inside their protective hard case, keep them to-hand in your coat, car or bag so they're handy wherever you go. The last thing you want is to caught short when the sun is graciously shining on a rare sunny day in winter.


Man with hat and sunglasses standing outside on cold sunny day

8.Make them part of your winter ensemble

Here in the UK, winter clothing is serious business. From thick coats, hats, scarves and gloves, layering-up is a big part of our seasonal regime.

If you're looking to add a little extra style to your winter wardrobe, try pairing your sunglasses with your coat and other winter accessories. A stylish pair of well-made sunglasses to go with your 'big coat' or your luxurious handmade scarf can really make a statement. All whilst protecting your eyes on those cold winter days.


Man wearing thick coat and tortoise shell sunglasses adjusting his winter hat on a cold day

9.Prescription sun lenses are a game changer

Even with a mild prescription, tailor made sun lenses are a wonderful way to elevate your visual experience at any time of year. Think of all the times you've had to stop and revert back to your regular glasses, just to check your phone or read something in the street. Whether your long or short-sighted, prescription sun lenses are a worthy investment and come in a variety of options;

  • Non-polarised
  • Polarised
  • Photochromic



Frequently asked questions about wearing sunglasses in winter

Man wearing fur lined coat and sunglasses frame on a snowy day

Can you wear sunglasses all year round?

Yes, you can wear sunglasses all year round. Sunglasses are a great way to protect your eyes from the sun's harmful UV rays, whether it's summer or winter. In winter, UV levels can be intensified from sunlight reflecting off surrounding snow. Sunglasses can help protect your eyes from this double exposure and reduce the chances of visual fatigue or even snow blindness. On windy days, sunglasses can also help to protect your eyes from airborne debris that's been kicked-up from the ground.


Person standing in blizzard wearing yellow jacket fury hat and round sunglasses

Is it weird to wear sunglasses in winter?

There's no need to be self-conscious about wearing sunglasses in winter – they're just as necessary as they are in summer. With the sun lower in the sky and our eyes being so sensitive to visible and UV light, sunglasses are a great way to keep your eyes safe and comfortable all winter long.

When you think about it, athletes wear sunglasses for various sports, regardless of the time of year. Sunglasses protect the eyes from the sun and wind, and can also help to reduce glare. For everyday tasks in winter, such as driving, wearing sunglasses is the best possible way to make your vision clearer and less strenuous.


Which sunglasses are best for winter?

The best sunglasses for winter will use UV protective lenses in a category 3 tint darkness, ideally with a large facial coverage. This means they'll protect your eyes from UVA and UVB light, whilst being dark enough for almost any kind of light conditions. Large sunglasses frames with big lenses help minimise your exposure to the wind, cold and reflected sunlight for greater overall protection.


Man in black estate car wearing blue jacket and square black sunglasses frame on cold winter day

Are polarised lenses good for snow?

Polarised lenses are ideal for snowy environments as they block harsh reflections known as glare. Within the lens, they contain in-built filters which limit condensed polarised sunlight bouncing off of ice, water or snow. Compared to non-polarised lenses, these premium lenses provide a smoother, more consistent optical experience by eliminating the majority of glare.

It's worth mentioning that non-polarised sun lenses are just as UV protective as polarised ones. Sunglasses with polarised lenses simply give the secondary benefit of glare reduction and are considered a premium upgrade.


Over the shoulder view of person using their smartphone

What are the disadvantages of polarised sunglasses?

Polarised sunglasses can interfere with how you see digital screens. Due to their in-built polarisers, LCD screens such as your phone often look much darker. Furthermore, polarised lenses can also reduce contrast in low-light conditions and make it harder for you to see. This is because the filters within the lenses can remove some of the light that would normally help to improve vision in these situations. For these reason, polarised sunglasses aren't recommended for reading digital displays or in low light scenarios such as dusk.


Man standing in snow covered mountains wearing jacket and sunglasses on bright sunny day

What colour of sunglasses lenses are best for snow?

Specific colours of sun lenses are better for specific snow conditions. On bright sunny days with levels of exposure, grey polarised lenses with a category 3 tint will provide sufficient visual comfort and glare reduction. On overcast days, red, blue or yellow tinted lenses with a category 2 tint will help provide definition, especially if there is flat light.

For a sunglasses colour tint guide, click here.



By now you'll definitely know that sunglasses aren't just for summer. With low-level sun, reflected glare and blustery conditions, hopefully this article has outlined numerous reasons to wear sunglasses in winter too.

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