What are sunglasses made of? Shades of secrets.

Sunglasses are a stylish accessory, but they also serve a vital purpose – protecting our eyes from harmful rays of the sun. They are not only used by celebrities and fashion icons; they are an essential item for everyone who is exposed to the sun. Besides, they provide a shield for our eyes in different settings, including driving, skiing, and swimming. However, have you ever wondered what sunglasses are made of? This article will give you an insight into what sunglasses are made of, and why the materials used matter.

What are Sunglasses?

Sunglasses, also referred to as sunnies, are eyewear devices used to shield eyes from the sun, preventing glare and harmful UV rays, which can damage the eyes. They have colored or tinted lenses, developed from different materials, which reduce the intensity of light reaching the eyes. Additionally, lenses offer some distortion protection and enhanced sharpness to vision. The lenses are enclosed and secured to a frame, which holds them in place, fitting comfortably around the head, ears, or nose.

What are Sunglasses Made Of?


The lens is the key component of sunglasses, and the material used affects both the quality of the lens and the degree of eye protection provided. Different materials have diverse strengths and weaknesses in terms of optical clarity, weight, impact resistance, durability, and scratch resistance.

Below are the most common materials sunglasses’ lenses are made of:

  • Glass: Before plastic lenses were introduced, high-end sunglasses were made with glass lenses. Glass lenses offer excellent clarity and scratch resistance; however, they are heavy and more prone to cracking or shattering, which can be hazardous to the eyes. Nowadays, glass lenses are rare due to safety and comfort concerns.
  • Polycarbonate: Polycarbonate lenses are shatterproof and provide excellent impact resistance, making them the best choice for sports or high-risk activities. They are also lightweight and have anti-scratch and UV protection coatings. However, they can have optical distortion that reduces clarity.
  • Acrylic: Acrylic lenses are lightweight, but they lack durability and scratch resistance. They are fairly inexpensive, but they are less popular than other materials due to their susceptibility to damage.
  • CR-39: CR-39 lenses (Columbia Resin #39) are made of plastic and offer distortion-free vision. They are lighter and more durable than regular plastic lenses; however, they are not as impact-resistant as polycarbonate lenses.


The frame of the sunglasses mainly provides comfort and a secure hold for the lens. It can be made of different materials such as metal, plastic, or nylon. Each material has unique characteristics that affect the sunglasses’ quality, durability, weight, and flexibility.

Below are some of the materials that sunglasses frames are made of:

  • Metal: Metal frames are durable and provide a stylish, sophisticated look. They offer excellent strength, stiffness, and dimensional stability, but they tend to be heavier than other materials.
  • Plastic: Plastic frames are lightweight, hypoallergenic, and come in various colors and shapes. However, they are less durable than metal and tend to be prone to wear and tear.
  • Titanium: Titanium frames are corrosion-resistant, ultra-lightweight, and hypoallergenic. They are incredibly flexible, durable, and offer better comfort than metal and plastic frames. They are made of high-quality material, which makes them a bit pricey.
  • Wood: Wood frames are eco-friendly and come in different wood grains, which offer a unique, personalized appearance. They are comfortable but less durable than metal and plastic frames, and they can be challenging to adjust.


The nose pads are the small, cushioned pieces that rest on the nose and maintain the sunglasses’ position. They are an essential part of the frame and come in different materials like silicon, metal, or nylon.

The key factors to consider when selecting the material of the nose pads are comfort, adjustability, and durability. Silicon pads are softer and more comfortable, whereas metal and nylon pads offer better adjustability and long-term durability.

Why Does the Material Matter?

The materials used to make sunglasses affect the quality, durability, and functionality of the eyewear. High-quality materials ensure that the sunglasses are comfortable, provide crystal-clear vision, and protect the eyes from harmful rays.

The lens material determines the degree of eye protection provided, the color perception, and the weight of the sunglasses. The frame material influences the strength, durability, weight, and style of the eyewear. Therefore, it is crucial to consider all the materials used when choosing sunglasses that offer the best fit, protection, and style.


Sunglasses are not only a fashion accessory but a necessity for eye protection. They are made up of different materials that work together to provide maximum eye protection, clear vision, and comfort. Understanding the materials used to make sunglasses can help you make an informed decision when selecting eyewear that offers the best UV protection, visual clarity, and style.

Most Commonly Asked Questions:

  • What is the best material for sunglasses lenses?
    Polycarbonate lenses, although not the clearest or most scratch-resistant, provide the best eye protection from impact and UV radiation.
  • What is the most flexible frame material?
    Titanium frames are the most flexible, durable, and hypoallergenic frame material.
  • Can sunglasses be recycled?
    Yes, sunglasses with metal frames or lenses can be recycled. However, sunglasses with plastic frames and lenses are not recyclable.
  • Can sunglasses lenses be replaced?
    Yes, sunglass lenses can be replaced. However, it is essential to ensure the new lens matches the frame, and if necessary, measurements should be taken to get the correct size.


1. Boucher, Kandace. “Which Material Is Right for Your Next Glasses Frame?” FramesDirect, 18 Apr. 2021, www.framesdirect.com/knowledge-center/lenses-frames/frames-materials.
2. Mulholland, J. “Choosing the Right Lens Material for Your Sunglasses.” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 15 Mar. 2020, www.aao.org/eye-health/glasses-contacts/choosing-right-lens-material-sunglasses.
3. “How to Replace Sunglass Lenses: Your Complete Guide.” SportRX, SportRX, 16 Aug. 2017, www.sportrx.com/blog/how-to-replace-sunglass-lenses-your-complete-guide/.

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