How to Choose the Right Sunglasses for Tennis, Pickleball, or any Outdoor Court Sport

There are many options for eyewear out on the court, here are the features you should be looking for.

We have come a long way since your gym class rec-specs when we talk about eyewear for sports. By now we have all seen running sunglasses, cycling sunglasses, baseball sunglasses, golf sunglasses, etc. around for years. After decades of being neglected by the sunglass industry we now finally have sunglasses specifically designed for tennis and pickleball.

Court sports demand a different level of attention to design and functionality. Although some companies claim to have sunglasses for tennis and pickleball, they are really nothing more than your average sunglasses with a generic lens tint and a frame repurposed from a different sport. In short, they are not specific to the needs of a tennis player or pickleball player. That’s why we put together a comprehensive list of the features that are must-haves for anyone serious about finding the perfect sunglasses for the court.

Tint Color

The color of your lenses can seem like a choice that is made more on fashion than functionality but the reality is that color does help filter light in different ways. Some shades improve your visual perception while others can enhance the colors you see. Choosing the right tint color for tennis or pickleball can be a gamechanger in how you see the court. A lens tint in the brown-amber family provides the best contrast of yellow against a dark green or blue background and is the best choice for a performance lens tint for the court. In collaboration with ZEISS, our R&D team built our proprietary brown-amber tint into our Court HD+ lenses, which are tuned specifically to give the best contrast possible on the court. Alternatively, a gray lens tint does not enhance or detract any part of the color spectrum and is the best lens tint for general multipurpose sunglass use.

“...supporting your vision and visual skills and enhancing the way you see, you are giving yourself all of the tools you need to achieve optimal performance.” (optometrists.org)

Tennis Sunglasses with UV Protection

UV Protection

UV rays can lead to serious health issues including sunburn of the eyes, cataracts, macular degeneration, and cancer. According to allaboutvision.com “the label on any quality pair of sunglasses should read 100% UV protection”. Poor quality lenses that do not block UV rays damage the eye even worse than not wearing sunglasses, as the eyes are dilated due to the shading of the tint and thus allow more rays to hit the pupil. UV protection is simply a must-have for pickleball sunglasses and tennis sunglasses given how much time is spent outside by players of these sports. All of the lenses that we use at RIA, including our clear lenses, are 100% UVA/B protective.

Non-Polarized

“Polarized vs Non-polarized” is not as simple as “expensive vs cheap” - there is actually a reason why non-polarized sunglasses are preferable for court sports. If you want sunglasses that enhance the contrast of the ball against the court background, while allowing you to maintain optimal depth perception to time your movement and swing, then non-polarized sunglasses are what you need. Polarized filters are constructed to cut down on reflected glare, something that is rarely an issue when playing tennis, pickleball, or any outdoor court sports compared to being on the water or skiing. The mechanism in polarized filters that cuts glare down also flattens the image that you see, cutting down on depth perception and making it more difficult to optimally time your movement and swing. This is why non-polarized lenses are the best option for court performance and why all of our current court lenses are non-polarized.

Anti-Fog Coating

Fogging and eyewear is a tale as old as time, especially with sunglasses. As the body heats up and releases heat, the lenses of your sunglasses trap that heat in and condense, causing your them to “fog.” Some coatings are better than others and you get what you pay for. At RIA Eyewear, we utilize our A-RID antifogging technology which is a chemically bonded coating applied to both sides of the lens before it is cut, ensuring longevity and the ability to withstand heavy use.

“Nearly 30,000 sports-related eye injuries are treated in U.S. emergency rooms each year. The good news is that 90% of serious eye injuries could be prevented by wearing appropriate protective eyewear.”
- American Academy of Ophthalmology

Impact-Resistant

“John Isner holds the ATP's official record for the fastest serve at 253 km/h (157.2 mph)” (wikipedia.com). Why is this relevant? Because if you were to get hit in the eye with a tennis ball or pickleball ball moving anywhere close to that you better hope your sunglasses are impact resistant. Your eye health matters and you should buy the equipment that keeps you best protected. At RIA eyewear our lenses are 5x as impact resistant as traditional polycarbonate for a reason, we care about your vision and we make quality lenses built to last.

Tennis- and pickleball-specific sunglasses are finally here, but make sure you know what you are buying and why. The RIA team has been swinging racquets for a long time and the above features are absolute must-haves. So before you buy that next pair of sunglasses for the court make sure you are getting the features your game needs and deserves.