Heading out for adventures like hiking, backpacking, trekking, and the like means paying close attention to what you bring to stay safe and prepared no matter what you encounter. Thus, a previous post serves as a packing checklist, reminding every backpacker to carry essentials like a map and compass for navigation, a first-aid kit in case of medical emergencies, and a headlamp or flashlight with spare batteries and bulbs.
However, another outdoor gear you shouldn’t overlook is a pair of sunglasses for sun protection. Aside from complementing sunscreen that can’t adequately cover your eyes and the sensitive skin around it, here’s why you need sunglasses and how you can choose among the different styles available.
Why sun protection is a must
Beyond being a fashionable accessory, eyewear like sunglasses helps shield your eyes and the surrounding area from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. A 2020 study published in the journal Sports Medicine Open notes that individuals who practice outdoor sport-related activities receive high UV exposure, putting them at disproportionate risk of developing skin cancer and pigmented lesions.
Additionally, the retinas can be damaged and the eye may develop conditions ranging from photokeratitis to cataracts if left unprotected from UVA and UVB rays, which are present regardless of the weather or climate. Whether hiking a trail or cycling along the coastline, using protective eyewear can also reduce glare to sharpen your vision and allow you to navigate safely.
Which eyewear outdoor enthusiasts can use
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast with refractive errors like myopia or nearsightedness, you’d have to wear prescription eyeglasses to ensure you don’t get any injuries from your vision impairment. Then again, you might struggle with switching to a pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun, wind, dust, and other environmental factors.
Fortunately, outdoor-oriented eyewear brands like Oakley and Ray-Ban offer prescription sunglasses that combine vision correction and UV protection. You don’t have to sacrifice one for another, and you get the convenience of only bringing one pair so you can pack smart and light.
On the other hand, those with refractive errors can also opt for contact lenses so they can still wear their regular pair of sunglasses. Aside from being lightweight and convenient, contacts are less prone to loss, damage, or fogging up, especially in high-altitude backpacking locations.
Among the contact lenses available in the market, outdoor adventurers can choose daily disposables like Acuvue Oasys to prevent irritation and infection since you can remove them at night and replace them with a fresh pair the following day. There’s also the option to use contact lenses approved for extended wear from the brand OPSM, but you have to clean and store them properly to avoid contamination. Make sure to choose a brand that offers UV-blocking benefits for additional protection.
If you have the budget to upgrade your lenses, consider getting them with polarized filters that offer visual clarity and enhanced color contrast. This feature is especially crucial if you’re hiking on a bright sunny day, doing water sports like kayaking where the water can reflect glare, and driving where you need to see traffic lights and signals throughout your road trip. However, remember that polarized sunglasses don’t always offer instant sun protection, so choose a pair labeled with 100% UV protection.
Another lens feature to keep in mind is a photochromic coating, as it comes in handy when you’re constantly moving from outdoors to indoors but can’t bother interchanging between eyeglasses and sunglasses. Sunglasses with photochromic lenses automatically transition from light to dark once you’re under the sun.
Sports sunglasses or goggles
Lastly, you can also get sunglasses or goggles specialized for sports and outdoor activities. The eyewear brand Powster recently launched a new collection of sports sunglasses suited for adventures like mountain biking, road biking, and hiking.
Aside from sun protection, their shades leverage advanced lens technology to reduce eye strain, improve athletic performance, and enhance the overall visual experience when taking in sights and navigating challenging terrains. The frames themselves also offer a snug and comfort fit despite wearing them for prolonged periods.
Now that you know which eyewear to consider for sun protection and overall eye care when exploring the great outdoors, feel free to check out our other blog posts for more information on outdoor gear and travel ideas.