Best Eyewear Retainers

Updated April 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.

34 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
409 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 eyewear retainers

Last Updated April 2020

Misplacing your glasses is disruptive. And it’s expensive if you lose them for good. But is chancing it preferable to keeping your reading glasses on all day, or wearing your shades even when the sun goes behind the clouds? You can’t live life within arm’s length of an end table, but you can buy an eyewear retainer.

Eyewear retainers are flexible straps that go around your head or neck and attach to your eyeglasses or sunglasses. You simply stick the stems of your glasses in the ends of the retainers, and then slip the glasses off as desired. Some eyewear retainers keep your glasses snug against your face so they won’t fall off during strenuous activities. Others rest the glasses on your neck or chest when they’re not in use. Both types keep you from leaving your spectacles behind.  

Eyewear retainers come in a variety of lengths, materials, and colors for different needs and activities. Keep reading to learn which type best fits your needs and lifestyle. When you’re ready to buy, check our recommendations for the best eyewear retainers on the market.

A reluctant child may be more open to trying an eyewear retainer in a favorite color or one that matches a team uniform.

Key considerations

Purpose

Before buying an eyewear retainer, you first need to consider how you’ll use it.

Sports: Those looking for eyewear retainers for sports or other active pastimes should seek models that hold your glasses snugly on your face. The retainer should be free from hard edges that could injure your face in case of contact. Retainers intended for sports should be washable so you can remove any sweat. Those who want an eyeglass retainer to wear with sunglasses during water sports should look for an adjustable model, so you can slip your shades off when the light changes.

Work: If you need an eyewear retainer for work, first check to see whether your employer has specific requirements. Some individuals, like dental hygienists and medical professionals, risk hitting others if their glasses slide off while they work. Others in an industrial setting may need to keep safety glasses from getting caught in machinery. Either way, it’s best to look for an eyewear retainer that keeps your glasses snug against your face unless your employer requires otherwise.

Convenience: Some people who are prone to leaving their glasses behind simply want a stylish option for keeping track of sunglasses or eyeglasses. These customers have many options, such as snug or loose fitting, neck or chest length. You’ll have your choice of material and color as well.

Tubing

Most eyewear retainers have ends designed like Chinese finger trap toys: You insert the eyeglass stems into the tubing at each end of the strap. The tubing holds onto the stems and tightens if you tug on them.

Note that not all sunglasses fit the tubing in all retainers. Some oversize or sports sunglasses with wide stems may not fit in smaller tubes. And very slender eyeglass stems may be too small for some retainers. Know your size limitations before ordering.

EXPERT TIP

Some wearers find retainers that adjust with a tail uncomfortable because the bead bounces against the skin with every step.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Adjustability

It’s hard to predict what retainer length will work best for your activities. Maybe you prefer a different length for different uses. If so, look for an adjustable retainer that can change to fit many different sizes.

If you choose an adjustable retainer, you also need to think about where that extra length of strap goes. Some retainers have a sliding bead that secures the extra length behind your head, creating a “tail,” which some people love and others hate. A number of retainers use double sliders that pull the extra length along the back of the retainer, doubling the cord and eliminating the need for a tail. You can shorten a few retainers by simply sliding the retainer farther up the stems of your glasses.

Materials

Most eyewear retainers have interior tubing lined with cotton or neoprene. Which fabric works best for you depends upon your activities and personal factors.

Cotton: These eyewear retainers have a soft, natural feel. They’re a good choice for people with allergies or whose skin reacts poorly to synthetic materials. If your glasses are causing discomfort behind your ears, a cotton eyewear retainer can reduce irritation. However, cotton tends to retain moisture, either from perspiration or water sports. Cotton eyewear retainers may shrink if washed and dried carelessly.

Neoprene: If moisture is a problem for you, take a look at neoprene eyewear retainers. Neoprene is a synthetic, rubbery material often used in wetsuits. It’s designed to repel water, so sweat and water evaporate from the surface rather than soak in. But since it’s not a natural material, it may irritate sensitive skin. Most neoprene retainers can only be adjusted by slipping them farther up the stem rather than shortening the cord.

Floating

Some eyewear retainers intended for water sports are designed with air pockets or small foam pieces, so they float if dropped in the water. If you go this route, check the maximum weight the retainer can keep afloat to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Maintenance

Eyewear retainers for sports are likely to get sweaty whether they’re strapped to the back of your head or dangling down your chest, and sometimes hand washing isn’t enough to get rid of the funk. If you’ll be using your eyewear retainer primarily for sports, look for ones that are safe to put in the washer and dryer.

Color and design

Eyewear retainers come in almost any color or pattern you can imagine. Some are dark and understated; others are brightly colored so they’re easy to spot if you drop them.

Some are adorned with fun patterns like pineapples, flamingos, camouflage, and more. Stand out from the crowd or blend in depending on your mood.

EXPERT TIP

Eyewear retainers help many roller-coaster lovers see every hairpin turn in vivid detail without losing their glasses.


Staff  | BestReviews

Accessories

Sports sunglasses: Oakley Men’s GasCan sunglasses
These durable sunglasses have it all: polarization, UV protection, and style to spare. So much, in fact, that Oakley patterned its company logo after the frame design. Wrap-style frames protect your eyes from every angle, so you can keep them on during the action.

Reading glasses: Scojo New York Gels Reading Glasses
Reading glasses are the easiest of all to lose because you only need them intermittently throughout the day. Replace yours with these chic, ultralight reading glasses from Scojo New York. Both standard and rimless frames are available in a wide variety of colors. Lenses come in a variety of magnification options.

Eyewear retainer prices

Inexpensive: You can find eyewear retainers for children for as low as $5. At this price, retainers are sized for a snug fit and come in both cotton and neoprene. Retainers are adjustable to keep glasses firmly on the face, but most in this range don’t float.

Mid-range: Eyewear retainers that fit adults start at around $8. You’ll find both neoprene and cotton options in this tier. Most retainers are solid colors, and adjustable models may have bands that double or create a tail. Many may float when paired with lighter eyewear.

Expensive: The priciest eyewear retainers cost about $10 to $12. If you’re paying this much, you have your choice of neoprene or adjustable cotton retainers. Many retainers in this price range come in bold, eye-catching patterns, as well as solid colors. They should float, but test them first.

EXPERT TIP

For some individuals, cotton eyewear retainers can eliminate the discomfort behind the ear caused by eyeglass stems.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Wash the eyewear retainer in a lingerie bag. If you wash your eyewear retainer in the washing machine, be sure to secure it in a lingerie bag so it doesn’t get caught in any moving parts.
  • Test floating retainers first. Eyewear retainers intended to float should first be tested in your sink or bathtub before taking them out on open water to make sure they hold the weight of your glasses.
  • Buy eyewear retainers for kids. Eyewear retainers aren’t just for adults. Snug-fitting retainers are a best seller for active children.

Other products we considered

There are plenty of eyewear retainers on the market. If you don’t see what you need in our matrix, we have a couple more for you. If you’re looking for a subtle eyewear holder, many customers swear by the Pilotfish No-Tail Eyewear Retainer. This adjustable model lets you choose from fitting snugly across the face or hanging loosly around the neck. It comes in 14- inch and 16-inch sizes, but many users say the smaller one is plenty long.

If you have wider stems or oversize sunglasses, consider the Costa del Mar C-Line Retainer. Its slim cord is deceptively strong, keeping the largest water-sport sunglasses safe.  

If you have long hair, adjust your eyewear retainer before putting your glasses on to avoid snags and tangles.

FAQ

Q. How do I know if my stems will fit my eyewear retainer?
A.
The easiest way is simply to measure. Find a tool that measures in millimeters and determine the widest point in your stems, the part over which the ends of the retainer slide. Then look for retainers that securely fit that size. If your glasses are between sizes, it’s best to choose the smaller size. Slender stems may slip out of the retainer if the ends are too large.
 

Q. What’s the right length for an eyewear retainer?
A.
For eyeglasses that you want to fit snugly against your head, measure around the part of your head directly behind your glasses stems. The sleeve extend about one-half inch onto each stem. Look for adjustable retainers that give you a couple inches of wiggle room to achieve the perfect fit. If you want your shades to dangle from the retainer, look for one between 15 and 20 inches long. The shorter ones will keep your specs around your neck, while the longer ones will hit most people at the chest. If you’re not sure, go longer. Many retainer sleeves can be made shorter by slipping them farther up the eyeglass stems.
 

Q. How do I get the retainer off if I need to remove it?
A.
There may be times you need to remove your retainer for washing, storing, or other reasons. Gently slip the sleeves off the edge of your stems, carefully rolling them if they’re reluctant to budge. You can try adding some soap to the stems to help them slip, then rinse it off the fabric later. Some customers use petroleum jelly, but we don’t recommend this plan. Since it’s petroleum based, it’s challenging to wash off without extremely hot water, which can cause cotton retainers to shrink. Further, the petroleum jelly can make it hard to get the retainer sleeves back on when you want to use it again.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Kristin
    Kristin
    Writer
  • Kyle
    Kyle
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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