Are Polarized Sunglasses Better?

  • BY Mori Ahi

Looking for the right pair of shades for your next outdoor adventure? Wondering if polarized sunglasses are actually any better than non-polarized? Learn how polarized sunglasses work and when to wear them from the eyewear experts at Zenni.

What are polarized lenses?

We’ll start with the science behind polarized lenses. Polarization is a filter that can be applied to eyeglass lenses to reduce the amount of reflected light (or glare) that reaches your eyes.

Now, let’s talk light. Light travels in waves, vibrating in multiple directions – that is until it encounters a surface that makes it change course. When light bounces off flat surfaces, like pavement, a body of water, snow, or ice, it concentrates and intensifies, leading to glare that can be distracting and cause eye strain over time.

Up close image of man with polarized sunglasses.

So, how do polarized sunglasses work?

Polarized lenses specifically, filter out the horizontal light waves or “glare” while still allowing light to pass through.

Do polarized sunglasses make a difference?

Depending on the environment and type of activity you’re doing, opting for polarized sunglasses can make a big impact on your vision. The benefits of polarized sunglasses include:

  • Reduced glare
  • Less eye strain and visual fatigue
  • Increased contrast
  • Overall, improved visual clarity outdoors

Below is an example of what you might see through non-polarized versus polarized sunglasses.
Comparing what you see with a non-polarized lens versus an polarized lens.

Does “100% UV protection” mean my sunglasses are polarized?

Not necessarily. UV protection utilizes a coating that filters or blocks ultraviolet light, a type of short-wavelength light that can cause eye damage. We always recommend protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays when outdoors.

Who should wear polarized sunglasses?

Polarized sunglasses are ideal for anyone participating in outdoor activities where glare or reflective light can be hazardous or distracting. Some people that may particularly benefit from polarized lenses are:

  • Skiers and snowboarders, to reduce glare from snow and ice
  • Golfers, for added contrast and depth perception on the course
  • Motorcyclists and drivers, to reduce glare on pavement
  • Fishermen and boaters, for better visual clarity on the water
  • Beachgoers and surfers, to reduce glare from water and sand

When should you not wear polarized sunglasses?

There are a few situations where polarization may not be the right choice. One of the major disadvantages of polarized sunglasses is that they are incompatible with LCD (liquid-crystal display). So, if your car’s display uses LCD, it’s best not to wear polarized lenses while driving.

Polarized sunglasses are also not recommended for pilots because they can make it more difficult to see through the plane’s windscreen and can obstruct the view of other planes in the distance.

If polarized sunglasses sound like a good fit for you, check out Zenni’s selection of stylish prescription sunnies today!