Polarized vs Non-Polarized Sunglasses

Polarized vs non polarized sunglasses. To polarize or not to polarize, that is the question. I once put on a pair of polarized sunglasses and the world did indeed seem like a better place for a moment. But a pair of polarized sunglasses is quite an investment, and I’ve just never been that big on sunglasses. I just stick to a cheapie pair for while I’m driving.

If you want to invest in a good pair of sunglasses, polarized is definitely a good option to consider. Let’s look at the big debate, polarized vs non polarized.

Do they really make such a big difference?


Okay, so you do know why you should wear a good pair of sunglasses when you’re out and about, right? Ultraviolet or UV rays can be very damaging to your eyes. Especially for people with blue eyes, it’s crucial to invest in a pair of good sunglasses. If you don’t, you could end up getting eye cancer later on.

Polarized sunglasses offer a specific form of protection from UV rays. But, some people still think that the polarized vs non polarized debate is ridiculous, believing that polarized lenses don’t really increase your UV protection. The biggest benefit they do give, is eliminating glare from surfaces such as water.

They decrease the intensity of unpolarized light by at least half of the intensity. You can decide which shade intensity you prefer, from light gray which is only polarized to very dark which is polarized with a black tint as well. The light sensitive kind or photo-chromatic, is pretty handy if you wear subscription glasses. They change to dark outside and clear inside.

What makes polarized glasses so special?

cape-town-1127838_640I’m no scientist, but it seems important to understand sunlight when we’re talking about sunlight protection. Sunlight comes from the sun, and it only bothers us in the daytime. Just kidding, you knew that part, right?

Sunlight is reflected and absorbed in many directions. It is reflected from horizontal surfaces, such as land, water or car hoods and then usually it’s reflected back horizontally. You know that horrible glare moment when a car parks outside a restaurant and you happen to look up right at that moment? This means that ground reflections cause interference with our vision.

Regular sunglasses will provide you with basic protection from vertical and horizontal UV rays. But they won’t reduce the glare caused by reflected horizontal rays. Regular sunglasses basically decreases the intensity of sunlight by the same amount, reflected off objects or not. Polarized sunglasses have the ability to selectively eliminate reflections from surfaces.

Why is this such a special trick? It’s usually the glare that causes problems, not the general sunlight intensity. During the middle of the day, the glare intensity will be at its worse, due to the angle of the sun with the earth. So if you are going sailing for brunch or lunch, I would advise you take a good pair of sunglasses with you.

Polarized sunglasses have a special built-in, laminated filter. This filter will only allow vertical light rays to pass through, and it almost completely blocks horizontal rays out, eliminating those nasty glare moments. You will adore your pair of polarized sunglasses while you are boating or fishing. All of a sudden you will be able to see through the surface, usually it’s clouded with reflections from the sun and the sky.

Tip: Make sure you don’t get cheated by a sneaky sales person selling you rip offs, just because they look all fancy with a seemingly filter film on, doesn’t mean they are the real McCoy. How do you know if your sunglasses are polarized? Look at the reflection off any object on a window panel, but not at yourself, you have to look at an angle through the glass. Then turn the sunglasses around, the arms of the glasses facing away from you. Look through them again. If the intensity of the reflection doesn’t change, they are not polarized. Pick a target object outside the window and measure the difference between viewing the object with the glasses on and from the reverse side.

Who needs to consider polarized sunglasses?

sunglasses-412567_640For you to have an informed opinion in the polarized vs non polarized debate, let’s talk about who benefits most from wearing a pair of polarized sunglasses.

Like I just mentioned, glare from water is usually the worse to deal with. So if you are a fisherman or avid boater, you will benefit most from buying a good pair of polarized sunglasses. Maybe you will even get luckier with catching some fish!

It might be just a nice luxury for a fisherman to have, but it is much more important to consider investing in a pair of polarized sunglasses if you are sailing often. They can literally save your life. You will be able to spot underwater obstacles much easier and follow the movement of currents more clearly.

While you are driving, especially in summer time when the UV rays are at their most potent level, polarized sunglasses can make those annoying horizontal rays quite a bit more bearable. Those rays increase eye fatigue and discomfort. Wow, I should really consider investing in a good pair of polarized sunglasses!

Other outdoor activities, such as hunting or mountain biking, are also more pleasant with pair of polarized sunglasses. Unless you like sticking with the excuse “the sun was in my eyes” when you have an epic crash with your bike, again.

The pros of Polarized Sunglasses

They will give you increased visual comfort. Your eyes won’t constantly have to deal with the challenges of glares. Your vision will also be clearer and your depth vision will be enhanced.

During the day, your eyes have to constantly adjust to the glare from reflections, causing eye fatigue. Polarized sunglasses minimizes this constant adjustment. You will also be able to see colors more clearly. (aha, so it wasn’t my imagination, the world really did look better with that pair I tried on! I was actually walking on the beach when I had them on, and I can guarantee you that they really made the glare from the sea much less intense)

And now the cons

Outside they are great, but they can make it tricky to view LCD screens. They cause a distortion effect, making the images on the screen disappear when viewed at certain angles. Might not be ideal to try and draw cash from an ATM while wearing your polarized sunglasses. And make sure when you get on a plane that the pilot is not wearing a pair!

They are great for mountain biking, but not so much for skiing. With all that white stuff to deal with they can compromise your ability to distinguish the contrast in certain light conditions, meaning you won’t know the difference between patches of ice or snow and moguls.

They are generally more expensive than regular sunglasses. Seeing as the polarized vs non polarized debate is still open with no conclusion as to whether or not they really make such a big difference, it could be an unnecessary expense for people who would have been fine with just wearing a pair of regular sunglasses.

What do you think, polarized vs non polarized?

Wearing a pair of polarized sunglasses still won’t give you superman abilities like staring straight into the sun, but they definitely do have many advantages. Especially if you are doing sports outside where you can benefit from seeing things more clearly, like for instance playing golf.

If you are often driving long distances during the day, it could also benefit your eyes greatly in the long run to invest in a good pair of polarized sunglasses. Plus, if you are already wearing subscription glasses, they can help prolong your good vision for a little bit longer.

I have blue eyes, so I should really invest in a pair of fancy sunglasses, instead of just sticking to basic cheapie eye protection. If you want to invest in the future of your eyes and you spend a lot of time outdoors, I would advise considering a pair of polarized sunglasses.


Hey! I am Andries and I am the owner and curator of this blog.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments

Leave a Reply: