Best Clip-On Sunglasses

Updated July 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
255 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best clip-on sunglasses

Last Updated July 2020

Clip-on sunglasses maximize the money you’ve already invested in your prescription glasses by transforming them into prescription sunglasses. These flexible shades come in all shapes and colors, and clip onto your existing glasses, eliminating the need to pay for pricey prescription sunglasses.

Besides being thrifty, clip-on sunglasses reduce the amount of gear you need to carry. You won’t need to pack a bulky case to switch between your everyday glasses and prescription sunglasses when you go in or out. Most can easily slide into a slender pouch, and some can flip up for quick trips indoors.

They’re not for everyone, but clip-on sunglasses are the height of convenience for driving, fishing, and other outdoor activities where seeing small details is critical. Different shapes, features and styles suit them to different situations. Keep reading to learn more. When you’re ready to buy, check our recommendations for the best clip-on sunglasses on the market.

Magnetic clip-on sunglasses can be more stylish than those sunglasses that attach across the bridge with a clamp.

Key considerations

Perhaps the first question that needs to be answered is, do you need polarized lenses? If you need sunglasses frequently enough to be shopping for clip-ons, the answer is probably yes.

Polarization

Polarized lenses reduce the glare created by sunlight reflecting off your car’s windshield, water, snow, or any other reflective surface. Sunglasses that aren’t polarized don’t cut the surface glare, which can obscure critical details. Polarized lenses are safer for activities like driving and boating. They also make it easier to see below the water for activities like fishing.

UV protection

Ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage more than just your skin. Damaging UVA and UVB rays have been linked to cataracts, macular degeneration, and other problems. Look for sunglasses that protect your eyes from at least 99% of both UVA and UVB rays. These rays can reflect off water, buildings, and even snow, so this eye protection is important year-round, no matter where you live.

Lens shape

Clip-on sunglasses come in all shapes, sizes, and styles, from aviators to clubmasters. But the clip-on sunglasses you buy should have a lens shape and size that’s similar to that on your prescription glasses. Sunglasses that are the same size and shape will help make sure your entire field of vision (at least the field your optometrist deems important for daily use) is both shaded and protected. Clip-on lenses that are significantly smaller than your standard lenses would leave some parts of your field of vision unprotected and may look awkward. Clip-on lenses that are much bigger than your standard lenses will leave you with shaded areas that are blurry.

EXPERT TIP

A handful of clip-on sunglasses can’t be used with photochromic prescription eyeglasses, so check before buying.


Staff  | BestReviews

Clip-on sunglasses features

Lens color

While lens color in sunglasses is a personal choice, different colors are recommended for different applications. If you can’t choose between lens colors, look for multipacks that give you options.

Gray: These lenses are the industry standard, probably because they’re ideal for driving and many outdoor sports. Gray lenses are known for cutting through glare and reducing brightness, but other colors have advantages in specific situations.

Brown: These lenses are made for sports like cycling, fishing, and hunting. Besides shading your eyes, brown and amber hues can help to brighten your field of vision during periods of intermittent clouds.

Green: These lenses work to reduce glare and can filter some of the blue light emitted by electronic screens and other LEDs.

Red: Lenses that are red or rose block even more blue light but are most notable for improving visibility when driving. Note that clip-on sunglasses that filter blue light may make it difficult to read a GPS or other electronic devices.

Yellow: Lenses that are yellow or orange can raise contrast in hazardous fog, low-light, or other hazy conditions. They’re also recommended for skiing, as well as some indoor sports.

Flip-up lenses

Clip-on sunglasses are convenient, but they still must be removed when you go indoors. This means you must carry a case, as well as a bag for protecting the case and clips from sunglasses. Flip-up lenses can eliminate this problem. Simply flip the dark lenses up to reveal your standard lenses when you no longer need the shade.

Magnetic

Some style-conscious customers don’t like the look of a clip at the bridge of their glasses. Some clip-ons (which are not technically “clips”) use magnets to attach to eyeglass frames. This style can be more aesthetically pleasing, but it only works with steel eyeglass frames. If you go this route, make sure the magnets and metal line up closely enough to keep the clip frames in place.

Damage protection

Since clip-on sunglasses are frequently handled and removed, it’s easy to scratch or damage them. Look for lenses with a scratch-resistant coating that can take some use and abuse.

Additionally, cheap clips have been known to damage prescription lessons. Many quality clips include rubber legs or posts that create space between the prescription and clip lenses, minimizing contact and risk.

Many clip-on sunglasses come with a carrying case for safe storage.

EXPERT TIP

Clips that advertise single-handed operation may be useful for individuals with dexterity or fine-motor challenges.


Staff  | BestReviews

Clip-on sunglasses prices

Inexpensive: You can find low-priced clip-on sunglasses for $5 per pair or even $4 per pair in a multipack. At this price, the sunglasses can offer significant UV protection, but they may or may not be polarized. They most likely clip to thin eyeglass frames and may or may not be very durable. They usually don’t have the ability to flip up and reveal your prescription lenses.

Mid-range: These clip-on sunglasses cost $8 to $10. They may be slightly thicker and more durable, but they shouldn’t add much extra weight. Lenses in this range are both polarized and offer 99% to 100% UV protection. Many have protective features to prevent damage to both the clip-on lenses and your prescription lenses. They may or may not flip up.

High-end: The best clip-on sunglasses cost $10 to $20. These have all the same advantages and features as models in the middle tier, but they may also flip up so you can see indoors without unclipping them from your frames. Some may have special stylistic details, such as mirroring, to make them more attractive.

EXPERT TIP

Polarized lenses are a must for customers recovering from cataract surgery.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Check measurements. For the best fit possible, check the lens and bridge measurements on both your clip-on sunglasses and your prescription glasses.
  • Check the lens darkness. Some sunglasses, such as dark gray, are so dark that they can make it hard to read screens for navigation. Be sure to check reviews if this is a concern of yours.
  • Wear the right color lenses for the conditions. For example, yellow lenses can improve visual clarity when it’s raining or dark.
  • Buy the right sunglasses for your frames. If you buy clip-on sunglasses that attach with magnets, make sure your eyeglass frames are made of steel before purchasing.

Other products we considered

We found a couple more products that might interest you. We’re intrigued by the stylish frames on the polarized, anti-glare Magic Monster Clip-On Sunglasses. The lenses come in a variety of colors, and they block 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Men and women alike say they really do block road glare and look better than many other clip-ons they’ve tried.

For another unique look, we think the WELUK Polarized Flip-Up Sunglasses are the cat’s meow. This artistic design features a cat-eye silhouette, and the polarized, UV-blocking lenses come in a handful of mirrored finishes.

Mirrored lenses can add an extra touch of style to your look.

FAQ

Q. Are clips-ons as good as prescription sunglasses?
A.
Both have their pros and cons. Clip-on sunglasses have a much lower price tag than prescription sunglasses. With clip-ons, you don’t need to carry a bulky case just in case you need your shades; a slender case will do the trick. Buying flip-up clips can totally eliminate the need to carry a case. But prescription sunglasses do have some advantages. Part of the reason they’ve expensive is because they’re made with durable, quality materials. Clip-on sunglasses aren’t usually made with high-end materials, and they may break more easily.

Clip-on styles are designed to mimic the shape of your prescription lenses, so they’re often smaller and provide less UV protection than prescription lenses. Prescription sunglasses may have a slight edge in quality, but they’re only effective if you can afford them, don’t lose them, and remember to wear them, all departments where clip-on sunglasses have a serious edge.
 

Q. Are clip-on sunglasses better than photochromic lenses?
A.
In some situations, clip-on sunglasses may actually be better than lenses that darken when exposed to ultraviolet light. Driving is one key area. Since transition lenses are triggered by UV rays, they won’t darken properly if you’re driving a car with a UV-treated windshield. Additionally, photochromic lenses are limited in the degree of darkness they achieve. With clip-on sunglasses, you can choose lenses that are as light or dark as you like, or you can buy different pairs for different situations.
 

Q. What are the lenses made from?
A.
Most clip-on sunglasses have polycarbonate lenses. They’re less expensive to produce than glass lenses and much less likely to shatter, an important consideration around the eyes. Additionally, they’re lightweight, which is especially important since they’ll be adding weight to your prescription glasses. Polycarbonate’s formulation makes it automatically resistant to ultraviolet rays. Polycarbonate is less scratch-resistant than glass, but it can be treated with a special coating to help protect it.

Other Products We Considered
The BestReviews editorial team researches hundreds of products based on consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. We then choose a shorter list for in-depth research and testing before finalizing our top picks. These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5.
The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Kristin
    Kristin
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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