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Sunglasses vs. Spectacles: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 23, 2023
Sunglasses are tinted eyewear protecting from sunlight, while spectacles are frames holding prescription or plain lenses.

Key Differences

Sunglasses are primarily designed to protect the eyes from harmful UV rays and excessive light. Spectacles, on the other hand, are designed to correct vision or to shield the eyes without necessarily offering UV protection.
The lenses in sunglasses are often tinted or polarized, blocking certain wavelengths of light to reduce glare and brightness. Spectacles can have clear lenses or tinted ones, depending on the need or preference of the user.
Sunglasses are commonly used in outdoor activities, such as driving, hiking, or lounging at the beach, to shield the eyes from the sun. Spectacles, whether they're for reading or distance, are often an essential daily wear item for those with vision problems.
The fashion industry has embraced both sunglasses and spectacles, turning them into stylish accessories. While the primary purpose of sunglasses remains protection from sunlight, spectacles have evolved beyond just vision correction to also being a significant style statement.
While both sunglasses and spectacles can be prescription, sunglasses specifically focus on sunlight protection. Spectacles, meanwhile, may or may not have a UV protective layer, unless specifically requested.

Comparison Chart

Primary Purpose

Protect from sunlight & UV rays
Correct or assist vision


Tinted or polarized
Clear or tinted


Outdoor activities
Daily, indoor and outdoor

Fashion Aspect

Style & protection combined
Style & vision correction combined

Prescription Option

Can be prescription
Mainly prescription

Sunglasses and Spectacles Definitions


Fashion accessories enhancing style.
His new sunglasses made quite the fashion statement.


Optical instruments for the eyes.
Without her spectacles, the world was a blur.


Polarized lenses reducing glare.
Fishing is easier with polarized sunglasses.


Eyeglasses aiding in vision correction.
She put on her spectacles to read the newspaper.


Outdoor eyewear for comfort & protection.
On sunny days, sunglasses are a must.


Pair of lenses set in a frame.
His spectacles were a classic round design.


Tinted eyewear shielding from sunlight.
She grabbed her sunglasses before heading to the beach.


Style accessories for face & vision.
Those spectacles perfectly complement her face shape.


Protective glasses against UV rays.
These sunglasses block 99% of UV rays.


Tools assisting people with vision issues.
I've worn spectacles since I was ten years old.


A convex lens used to focus the sun's rays and produce heat, especially for ignition.


Something that can be seen or viewed, especially something of a remarkable or impressive nature.


Sunglasses Eyeglasses with tinted or polarizing lenses to protect the eyes from the sun's glare.


Tinted glasses worn to protect the eyes from the sun.


(colloquial) A person wearing sunglasses


Spectacles that are darkened or polarized to protect the eyes from the glare of the sun;
He was wearing a pair of mirrored shades


What are sunglasses primarily used for?

Sunglasses are used primarily for protection against sunlight and UV rays.

What is the main purpose of spectacles?

The main purpose of spectacles is to correct or assist vision.

How do sunglasses protect against UV rays?

Sunglasses have UV-blocking coatings or materials to protect the eyes.

Why do some people wear spectacles only while reading?

These are reading glasses, used by people with presbyopia to assist with close-up vision.

Are spectacles considered a fashion accessory?

Yes, many people choose spectacles as both a vision aid and a fashion statement.

Can sunglasses have prescription lenses?

Yes, sunglasses can have prescription lenses tailored to individual vision needs.

Do all spectacles provide UV protection?

Not all spectacles offer UV protection unless specifically requested.

Why are some sunglasses polarized?

Polarized sunglasses reduce glare from surfaces, improving clarity and comfort.

Can spectacles lenses be tinted like sunglasses?

Yes, spectacles can have tinted lenses, often referred to as transition lenses.

Are there specific brands famous for sunglasses?

Yes, brands like Ray-Ban and Oakley are renowned for sunglasses.

Do sunglasses lose their UV protection over time?

The UV protection in quality sunglasses should remain consistent, but always ensure they're in good condition.

Are there spectacles without prescription?

Yes, there are non-prescription spectacles, often worn for fashion or protection.

Do all sunglasses block 100% of UV rays?

Not all, but high-quality sunglasses should block close to 100% of UV rays.

Can I get spectacles with both clear and tinted lenses?

Yes, transition lenses in spectacles darken in sunlight and become clear indoors.

Are oversized sunglasses better for protection?

Oversized sunglasses can offer more coverage, potentially increasing protection.

How often should one update their spectacles prescription?

It's advised to have an eye exam every 1-2 years, or when vision changes are noticed.

Are all spectacles tinted?

No, spectacles can be clear or tinted based on the user's preference or need.

Can sunglasses be a fashion statement?

Absolutely, many sunglasses are designed as stylish accessories.

What materials are spectacles frames made of?

Spectacles frames can be made from plastic, metal, acetate, titanium, and more.

Can sunglasses be used indoors?

While they can be worn indoors, sunglasses are designed for outdoor sunlight protection.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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