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Are prescription sunglasses or clip-on sunglasses better?

Finding a decent pair of shades can be a painful and often expensive task for those who wear glasses. Many of the clip-on sunglasses available at drug stores and supermarkets are made of flimsy, ineffective plastic and aren’t stylish. Many insurance plans don’t cover prescription sunglasses, so you may end up with a hefty price tag in some cases if you go that route.

As a glasses wearer, shopping for sunglasses is significantly more manageable once you familiarize yourself with the differences between clip-on and prescription sunglasses; you may be surprised at how different they are.

Clip-on sunglasses

As the name suggests, clip-on sunglasses clip onto your eyeglasses with a pinch-open or magnetic clip. Clip-on sunglasses come in a variety of shapes and sizes, making it easy to find the perfect set to fit your glasses.

What you’ll love about clip-on sunglasses

  • Clip-on sunglasses are significantly cheaper than prescription sunglasses. 
  • Many clip-on sunglasses flip up when you don’t need them, so you don’t have to carry two sets of glasses with you.
  • There’s a wide variety of tints, shades, shapes and colors available, with a range of UV-protection options.

What you should consider about clip-on sunglasses

  • Clip-ons are often flimsier than prescription sunglasses.
  • The clips are pretty apparent on some clip-on sunglasses.
  • If your clip-ons’ shape isn’t perfectly matched to your prescription eyeglasses, your UV protection will suffer.
  • Some magnetic clip-ons can be troublesome to put on and remove.

Best clip-on sunglasses

Polarized Magnetic Snap-on

Polarized magnetic snap-on

Whereas many magnetic clip-ons can be hard to use, these rectangular glasses are lightweight and snap on and off easily, thanks to their spring hinges. These glasses don’t have an obvious clip, making them more stylish than many clip-ons. These clip-ons are also polarized, making them ideal for those who drive often. If you need them in a different shape or color, you can use Zenni’s easy-to-use custom clip-on finder.

Sold by Zenni

Splaks Unisex Polarized Frameless Rectangle Lens

Splaks Unisex Polarized Frameless Rectangle Lens

These inexpensive clip-ons offer UV protection and polarized frames for less than $20. Although the clip is apparent, the metal alloy frames, low price-point and simple design make these an attractive option for many.

Sold by Amazon

Round Magnetic Snap-On Set

Round Magnetic Snap-On Set

These trendy magnetic glasses are comfortable and surprisingly lightweight. The magnetic snap-ons hide the fact you’re wearing clip-on glasses, which is a nice bonus for a pair as fashion-forward as these.

Sold by Zenni

Prescription sunglasses

Prescription sunglasses are essentially sunglasses with your eyeglasses prescription built into the lenses. Nowadays, buying prescription sunglasses doesn’t require going to your optometrist. If you already have your prescription, you can buy fashionable prescription sunglasses from the comfort of your couch.

What you’ll love about prescription sunglasses

  • Most designer sunglasses brands have their hand in prescription frames, meaning you have a massive range of stylish options.
  • Thanks to the wide selection of brands, you can easily find incredibly durable prescription sunglasses.

What you should consider about prescription sunglasses

  • Prescription sunglasses are significantly more expensive than clip-ons.
  • If you choose to go with prescription sunglasses, you’ll have to carry both your regular glasses and sunglasses with you.
  • Your eyes will have to re-adjust when you switch from your regular glasses to your sunglasses. 

Best prescription sunglasses

Cooper Black Oak Tortoise with Polished Gold

Cooper Black Oak Tortoise with Polished Gold

These vintage-inspired sunglasses have scratch-resistant lenses that block 100% of UV rays. Cooper’s fashion-forward sunglasses resemble the trendy (non-prescription) Westbourne sunglasses by Taylor Morris for a slightly smaller price tag.

Sold by Warby Parker

Lunettos Casey Sunglasses

Lunettos Casey Sunglasses

Lunettos�� bold sunglasses have an ultramodern look in several fashionable color options. These sunglasses offer 100% UVA and UVB protection at a fraction of the cost of most prescription sunglasses.

Sold by

Merrick Polished Gold Sunglasses

Merrick Polished Gold Sunglasses

The oval lenses and gold frames on Merrick’s unique prescription sunglasses are reminiscent of the round-framed Ray-Bans popularized by Chris Evans in “Knives Out.” These glasses have an anti-scratch coating on the lenses and can be paid off in multiple payments if need be.

Sold by Warby Parker

Should you get clip-on or prescription sunglasses?

Outside of the apparent fact that they both keep the sun out of your eyes, prescription and clip-on sunglasses are worlds apart. 

If you want glasses that look and feel like modern designer sunglasses and don’t mind spending $50-$200 to get a good pair, prescription sunglasses are the best option. On the other hand, if you don’t want to be burdened with carrying two pairs of eyewear around and only want to spend around $15-$35, clip-on sunglasses are the way to go.


Cody Stewart is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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