What is the Difference Between Shades and Sunglasses

There is no real difference between shades and sunglasses. Shades is an informal term that refers to sunglasses. Therefore, shades and sunglasses both refer to a form of protective eyewear designed to prevent bright sunlight and high-energy visible light from causing any injury or irritation to your eyes.

Shades or sunglasses also function as a visual aid. Currently, both fashion and function have come together and have created a trend in manufacturing sunglasses featuring lenses that are colored, darkened, or polarized.

Key Areas Covered

1. What are Shades 
     – Definition, Features, Fashion
2. What are Sunglasses
     – Definition
3. Similarities Between Shades and Sunglasses
     – Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Shades and Sunglasses
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Shades, Sunglasses

What are Sunglasses?

A sunglass or a pair of shades refers to a pair of light-filtering lenses fixed in a frame that holds them together. They are protective eyewear that helps you to obstruct ultraviolet radiation (UV), and blue light as direct exposure to strong visible light can cause serious injuries to your vision and eyes. Furthermore, patients are advised to use sunglasses immediately after some surgical procedures, especially when they are in dusty areas or seated in front of a TV screen or computer monitor.

Most significantly, celebrities use sunglasses primarily as a fashion accessory which adds more to their individual identity. Sometimes they also hide behind their huge shades to mask their identities. However, since the 1940s, sunglasses have become a popular fashion icon, especially on the beach.

Shades vs Sunglasses

The UV blockage should be your primary consideration when you are buying a pair of sunglasses. Frequent exposure to UV rays can cause various eye conditions, including retinal damage, macular degeneration, and even cataracts. Therefore, optometrists suggest that you should check for the label UV 400 or label 100% UV Protection when you are buying a pair of sunglasses.

Design of Shades or Sunglasses

It’s always important to look at the basic structure and the features of a good pair of sunglasses. When they are designing sunglasses, the manufacturers consider the two main elements: “Fashion” and “Function.”

When you a buying eyewear, it is always better to buy oversized shades with bigger lenses as they are comparatively practical and functional. They provide you with higher visual protection, blocking UV rays from penetrating your eyes. In addition, oversized shades are currently the latest fashion among celebrities and movie stars.

Many people tend to choose darker lens tints, thinking they provide better protection from UV rays. However, as stated by the eye specialists, this is actually a myth. The lens color basically affects only the color contrast of the glasses, while the UV blockage depends on the technology going on underneath the lenses.

Is Shades and Sunglasses are the same

Wraparound frames designed in a semi-circular form are believed to offer you additional protection restricting UV rays from penetrating your eyes through the sides. Further, they give you better peripheral vision.

The majority of lenses are made using colorized plastic. However, glass is still used in the manufacturing of high-quality brands. They are more optically accurate. Sunglass manufacturing does not produce any particular byproducts. In contrast, the process produces waste materials such as glass, metallic scrap, and plastic.

What are Shades

Shades is just another name for sunglasses. We consider this an informal term. There is no real difference between shades and sunglasses

Similarities Between Shades and Sunglasses

  1. Shades and Sunglasses are synonyms. They both refer to protective eyewear that helps you to obstruct ultraviolet radiation (UV) and blue light damaging your eyes.
  2. They come in different lenses and frame designs.

Difference Between Shades and Sunglasses 

  • There is no difference between shades and sunglasses. Both terms refer to a form of eyewear that protects your eyes from harmful and bright rays of visible light.


In brief, there is no difference between the design or the function of shades and sunglasses. Shades is an informal word and a synonym for sunglasses. Wearing this type of protective eyewear helps you avoid the risk of being exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation and developing UV-related eye injuries.


1. “How to Choose Sunglasses.” Sunglasses Guide: Polarized Lenses & More | REI Co-Op.
2. “8 Factors to Consider When Buying Sunglasses.” Kraywoods.

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About the Author: Anuradha

Anuradha has a BA degree in English, French, and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Master's degree in Teaching English Literature in a Second Language Context. Her areas of interests include Arts and Literature, Language and Education, Nature and Animals, Cultures and Civilizations, Food, and Fashion.

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