FLYING Magazine

When you climb into the cockpit, your eyes become your most important asset in ensuring a safe flight. Sunglasses are key to protecting your sight. Here are some of FLYING‘s favorite aviator sunglasses that also allow for customization with prescription lenses if needed.

Quicklook: Best Aviator Prescription Sunglasses

Ray-Ban Aviator Sunglasses:  Best for classically styled eye protectionSerengeti Summit Sunglasses Best budget optionSerengeti Velocity Sunglasses:  Best lightweight eye protectionRandolph White Gold Classic Aviators:  Best splurge optionFlying Eyes Golden Eagle Sport:  Best wrap-around prescription sunglassesFlying Eyes Cooper Aviator:  Best for headset comfortRandolph Chrome Classic Aviator:  Best for durability 

7 Best Aviator Prescription Sunglasses and Goggles

There are heaps of choices when deciding on a pair of prescription aviator sunglasses. Here are some of our favorites.

[Courtesy: Ray-Ban]

Ray-Ban Aviator Sunglasses

Best For: Classic Look

For pilots, Ray-Ban Aviators have long been considered the gold standard when it comes to looking the part. And for good reason—the sunglasses have been used by U.S. pilots since 1937, according to the company. The iconic design assures that generations later, these sunglasses will be stylish in and out of the cockpit.

Size: Lens widths: 55, 58, and 62 mm

Lens Type: Polarized and non-polarized

Replaceable Lens: Yes

Anti-Fog: No

Photochromic: Yes

Adjustable Nose Bridge: Yes

Special Features:  

Iconic style originally designed for U.S. pilots in the 1930sLenses made of high-quality glassFrame conforms to your head shape

Benefits:

Multiple frame and lens color optionsDurable wire frames100 percent UV protection

Disadvantages: 

CostSome purchasers complain of thin, flimsy frame constructionHeavy

[Courtesy: Amazon]

Serengeti Summit Sunglasses

Best For: Full spectrum UVA protection on a budget

Serengeti Summit sunglasses offer a lot of high-end features for a fraction of the price of high-end performance sunglasses. They feature lightweight, scratch-resistant, and impact-resistant photochromic lenses held in place by a durable nylon frame. They were designed by Bolle Sunglasses for use in numerous light situations—a plus for any pilot.

Size: One size

Lens Type: Scratch and impact-resistant borosilicate mineral glass lenses

Replaceable Lens: Yes

Anti-Fog: No

Photochromic: Yes

Adjustable Nose Bridge: No

Special Features

Wrap-around design for full protectionPhotochromic lenses gradually darken in bright light

Benefits: 

Scratch and impact-resistant lensesLightweightLight, thin lenses

Disadvantages:  

Frames are narrow Some purchasers complain of fogging lenses

[Courtesy: Amazon]

Serengeti Velocity Sunglasses

Best For: Lightweight eye protection

Serengeti’s Velocity sunglasses have a robust fan base. Their lightweight titanium frames and photochromic lenses make them comfortable to wear. “I’ve been a professional pilot for over 30 years and these are the only sunglasses I will ever consider purchasing,” said one reviewer.

Size:

Lens width: 61 mmLens height: 39 mmArm length: 130 mm

Lens Type: non-polarized mineral glass

Replaceable Lens: Yes

Anti-Fog: No

Photochromic: yes

Adjustable Nose Bridge: Yes

Special Features

 Titanium frame Two-year manufacturer warranty

Benefits: 

Classic stylingMineral lenses are 20 percent thinner and lighter than other sunglassesLenses are chemically tempered for scratch and impact resistance

Disadvantages: 

 Cost Some purchasers have complained about the quality of the materials

READ MORE: Pilot-Specific Sunglasses Get Gradient Tint

[Courtesy: Amazon]

Randolph White Gold Classic Aviators

Best For: Premium style

If you’re in the market for heirloom quality eyewear, Randolph White Gold Classic Aviators have you covered. These classically styled sunglasses, which have been issued by U.S. military pilots since the late 1970s, come with a lifetime guarantee on the frames. They’re also designed to fit snugly under helmets and headsets.

Size: 52, 55, and 58 mm

Lens Type: Polarized glare prevention with UVA/UVB protection

Replaceable Lens: Yes

Anti-Fog: No

Photochromic: No

Adjustable Nose Bridge: Yes

Special Features

Premium quality frames with 23K gold finishMade in the U.S. in a six-week process that includes 200 stepsLifetime warranty on all frames

Benefits: 

Engineered optical lenses designed for flyingTemples fit under helmets and headphones Lenses are double baked for scratch resistance

Disadvantages:  

Cost

[Courtesy: Flying Eyes Optics]

Flying Eyes Golden Eagle Sport

Best For: Wrap-around sunglasses

Size:

Frame width: 129 mmLens size: 59 mm x 32 mm

Lens Type: Single vision, lined bifocal, progressive bifocal

Replaceable Lens: Yes

Anti-Fog: No

Photochromic: No

Adjustable Nose Bridge: Yes

Special Features

Temples wrap around your head, not your earsShatterproof polycarbonate lensesPrescription compatible

Benefits: 

Designed to be comfortable with a helmet or headsetLightweight 

Disadvantages: 

Cost

Pricing: $410

READ MORE: Best Aviation Headset

[Courtesy: PilotsHQ]

Flying Eyes Cooper Aviator

Best For: Comfort

If you’re a pilot with a larger head, finding comfortable prescription sunglasses that fit under a headset can be tricky. According to Flying Eyes, its sunglasses are engineered with comfort in mind. The Cooper Aviators are lightweight and made of a material that is flexible and virtually unbreakable.

Size:

Frame width: 146 mmLens size: 60 mm x 51 mm, 14 mm bridge

Lens Type: Polycarbonate

Replaceable Lens: Yes

Anti-Fog: No

Photochromic: No

Adjustable Nose Bridge: No

Special Features:  

 Specially designed to be worn with a headset or helmet Ideal for those with medium- to large-size heads and faces

Benefits:

 Lightweight Temples wrap smoothly around your head

Disadvantages:  

Cost

Pricing: $229 – $249

[Courtesy: Amazon]

Randolph Chrome Classic Aviator

Best For: Durability

Randolph Chrome Classic Aviators protect your eyes while looking stylish. These sunglasses have been issued to U.S. military pilots since the late 1970s and come with a lifetime guarantee on the frames. They’re also designed to fit snugly under helmets and headsets.

Size:

Lens widths: 52 mm55 mm, and 58 mm

Lens Type: Non-polarized

Replaceable Lens: Yes

Anti-Fog: No

Photochromic: No

Adjustable Nose Bridge: Yes

Special Features:  

 Made by the supplier of U.S. military pilot aviator sunglasses Lifetime guarantee

Benefits: 

 100 percent UVA/UVB protection Anti-reflective coating to reduce light reflection

Disadvantages: 

 Cost

Why Aviator Sunglasses? 

When it comes to flying an airplane, your vision is your most important asset. A good pair of quality sunglasses—with prescription lenses, if needed—is an essential part of the gear needed by any pilot in the cockpit.

Fit

The fit and size of frames is an important detail when considering a pair of prescription aviator sunglasses. The frames must be functional, but shouldn’t interfere with your headset or helmet. Also, frames that have small lenses may let in too much light.

Prescription and Lens Type 

When choosing a pair of sunglasses to wear while flying, steer clear of polarized lenses, which can distort or interact with displays in the cockpit. 

Tint

Photochromic lenses that automatically darken when exposed to UV may have limited ability to transition to warm temperatures over 70 degrees. Tinted lenses, such as gray, gray-green, and brown, are all excellent choices when selecting sunglasses, according to the FAA. “Gray [neutral density filter] is recommended because it distorts color the least,” the agency said.

Why Aren’t Polarized Sunglasses Recommended for Pilots? 

Polarized sunglasses are not recommended for pilots because they can reduce or eliminate the visibility of aircraft instruments with anti-glare filters. Polarized lenses could also potentially interfere with visibility out of an aircraft windscreen, such as masking light sparkles from shiny material like other aircraft, which could lessen the time a pilot has to react.

The Sky’s The Limit

When it comes to choosing the best prescription aviator sunglasses, there are plenty of options in a range of prices that keep functionality while also staying stylish.

FAQ

What Sunglasses Can Pilots Wear?

Pilots should wear sunglasses that protect their vision and screen out between 70 to 85 percent of visible light.

What Color Lens Is Best for Pilots?

Tinted lenses, such as gray, gray-green, and brown are all popular choices for pilots. Gray is a neutral density filter and distorts color the least.

Are Gradient Lenses Good for Pilots?

While polarized lenses are off-limits for pilots, gradient tinted lenses offer additional sunlight and glare blocking in the upper area of the lens.

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