When you’re heading out for a run or walk, you probably have your clothes, gear, and shoes ready to go. But one thing you may be forgetting is a pair of sunglasses. Whether it’s the harsh rays of the summer sun or the glare of rain or snow, we’re quick to reach for hats and apply sunscreen, but we neglect to offer the same protection to our eyes! We spoke with Dr. Kathleen Kennedy, O.D., an avid runner and the owner of For Your Eyes Only Optometry in San Francisco, CA to get the 4-1-1 on why runners should make sunglasses a staple of their daily runs.


1) Why is it important for runners and walkers to wear sunglasses?

“It is important for runners and walkers to wear sunglasses for two reasons: ocular health and visual comfort (Ok, three, sunglasses look cool!).
To keep your eyes healthy I recommend protecting the eyes and the skin around the eyes from UV light.  Wrinkles, cataracts, yellow growths in the white of the eyes called pinguecula, and growths on the eyelids (some cancerous), can all be caused by UV damage.  Many of these problems do not show up until you are older but we believe it is the damage you are doing now, day by day, that may lead to eye health issues later.”

2) What should a runner or walker look for in a pair of sunglasses?

“Sunglasses that fit you well, are comfortable, and are big enough to offer good coverage around your eyes.  You don’t want them bouncing around or sliding down your face while you are exercising. Many people, myself included, prefer lighter weight glasses for running.
Make sure the lenses block up to UVA (400nm) so that you’re fully protected.
A word to the wise: Invest in your lenses.  Very cheap lenses have very poor optics and will not offer adequate UV protection or the same clarity as higher quality lenses.”

3) Is there a difference between summer and winter sunglasses?

“It just comes down to the runner or walker’s personal preference. Some people prefer a darker tint in sunnier weather whereas others prefer a tinted lens (black, brown, greenish-grey etc.) for daytime vision. In addition to a tint, polarized lenses make vision sharper and even more comfortable because they do a great job reducing glare off horizontal surfaces like pavement, water, and snow.”
Looking for the perfect pair of sunglasses? Check out some of our favorites in the Runkeeper store!