Why Do Cyclists Wear Sunglasses? 3 Main Reasons Explained

Pro cyclists in peloton use sunglasses to protect their eyes

After the first few rides on my bike, I realized I couldn’t continue cycling without sunglasses. These rides were pretty dangerous, and I almost crashed multiple times.

Cycling sunglasses are not just a fashion accessory. They protect our eyes when cycling.

In this article, you learn the most important reasons to wear cycling sunglasses on a bike and why you should consider buying one if you don’t have them yet.

Let’s dive in.

The Best Reasons to Wear Cycling Sunglasses

The following part includes in-depth explanations of the most important reasons to wear cycling sunglasses.

1. Insects & Bugs Protection

Cycling sunglasses are perfect for protecting your eyes against insects. Even a tiny fly can throw you off balance. 

This is something I’ve been experiencing during my first rides without sunglasses.

You know how unpleasant it is if you have ever had something in your eye that shouldn’t be there. Now, imagine you experience this when cycling.

It can result in just a temporary loss of your attention or a big crash caused by losing control.

This can be especially dangerous on group rides where you are not alone, and it is essential to keep your line.

Insects are tiny but can cause big issues.


Cycling sunglasses don’t have to be expensive. Check out these affordable cycling sunglasses.


2. Elements Protection

Protecting your eyes against elements like water, wind, mud, dust, branches, etc., is no less important, especially for mountain bikers that often encounter them in terrain.

Scicon Sunglasses Splashed with Water
Cycling Sunglasses Splashed with Water

Road cyclists’ biggest enemy is often considered the (head)wind. However, you don’t have to ride fast to start tearing on a bike—a headwind can cause the same.

Once you return home from a ride without sunglasses and with a strong headwind, you will probably have irritated eyes, and they will burn you.

With sunglasses, you can easily prevent these negative effects.

PRO TIP: If you want to take off your glasses during a ride, use air vents in your bike helmet or jersey collar. Your glasses will be easily accessible in these places, so you can put them on when needed.

3. UV Rays Protection

There are three basic types of UV radiation:

  1. UV-A
  2. UV-B
  3. UV-C
    (Source)
An illustration of penetration of UV radiation through ozone layer (UV-A, UV-B, UV-C)
UV radiation types

UV-A and UV-B penetrate the atmosphere even in the shade or in cloudy conditions. Over 90% of UV can penetrate a light cloud. (Source)

Sand, water, and snow can heighten these effects by up to 70 %. This means wearing cycling sunglasses is especially important if you ride in high mountains or near the ocean.

UV-C is absorbed by the ozone layer and does not reach the Earth’s surface.

So, why is this important?

In some cases, UV rays can cause eye cancer (ocular melanoma). However, according to the American Cancer Society, the other eye problems caused by UV rays are more common. UV rays can lead to:

  • Formation of cataracts (clouding of the eye’s lens)
  • Tissue growth on the surface of your eye (pterygium)
  • Inflamed or burned cornea

The World Health Organization (WHO) also confirmed these UV rays’ effects on our eyes and added the following estimation.

Up to 20% of cataracts (or 3 million per year) could be due to UV exposure to the eye.

If you decide to buy cycling sunglasses, make sure they include a UV400 filter that filters the harmful UV rays.

Feel free to check out the best cycling sunglasses for inspiration.


Cycling Sunglasses FAQ


Conclusion

If you don’t have cycling sunglasses, get one. They will make your ride much more comfortable and safe. Read my handy guide on how to choose cycling sunglasses.

They will protect your eyes against elements like the wind, dust, water, etc., but also harmful UV rays, bugs, and insects.

This protection will ensure that you prevent potential health issues, loss of control over your bike because of bugs flying into your eye, and other scenarios.

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