What Are Polarized Sunglasses? Here’s What You Need to Know

When searching for the perfect pair of shades, you’ve likely come across the words “polarized” and “non-polarized,” but do you actually know what these words mean? Is one better than the other? Not sure which type is best for you? You’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we’ll be breaking down the differences between polarized and non-polarized sunglasses and the pros and cons of each. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll know which option is right for you. 

What Are Polarized Sunglasses? 

Graphic explaining how polarized sunglasses work

To understand what polarized sunglasses are and how they work, you must first understand what glare is.

Usually, light scatters because it bounces at varying angles off an object’s uneven surface. If the surface is smooth, however, as with water or a flat piece of sheet metal, light reflects at only one angle. The bright, harsh light that reflects into your eyes is known as glare.

Polarized sunglasses are designed to reduce glare, allowing the wearer to see better and experience less eyestrain. A chemical film, which is either applied to or embedded in the lenses of polarized sunglasses, absorbs a large amount of the horizontal light that creates glare.

What’s the Difference Between Polarized and Non-Polarized Sunglasses? 

Polarized and non-polarized sunglasses might look similar and both have the ability to reduce brightness, but that’s where their similarities end. 

Non-polarized sunglasses block the sun’s UV rays, but they don’t have the special chemical coating that polarized lenses do. As a result, non-polarized sunglasses lack the beneficial effects of polarized lenses.

The Pros and Cons of Polarized Sunglasses  

So, what are these beneficial effects we speak of? Let’s take a look: 

  • Safer daytime driving: Reducing windshield glare, and glare bouncing off of other cars, makes driving safer and easier, as light is not reflecting into your eyes. 
  • Ideal for water activities: Polarization provides superior glare protection when on water, making it easier to see during water-based activities, such as boating, fishing, and kayaking. In fact, with polarized lenses, you can often see into the water if it’s clear enough. This is particularly beneficial for those who fish as a hobby.
  • Benefit many outdoor activities: Bikers, golfers, runners, and other outdoor sports enthusiasts often wear polarized sunglasses to reduce glare that can interfere with their performance. Poloarized lenses are also an excellent choice for moms, helping them keep an eye on their kids at the playground or pool without glare obstructing their view. 
  • Enhances outdoor colors: Polarized lenses increase contrast and make outdoor colors much more vivid. You’ll be stunned at how crisp and colorful your vision becomes!
  • Increases visual comfort: By reducing eye strain and squinting, polarized lenses allow your eyes to relax and not work as hard to view your surroundings.

Are there any disadvantages of polarized sunglasses? Here are a few things to consider: 

  • Dims digital screens: Polarized lenses can dim the brightness of digital screens when viewed from certain angles. Tip: If you turn your screen 90 degrees, the brightness will increase! Despite this handy hack, non-polarized lenses may be a better fit for those who frequently need to view digital screens outdoors.  
  • Not recommended for snow sports: Polarized lenses can reduce sun glare from ultra-reflective snow and ice, but that may not always be ideal. Reduced glare can make it difficult to see icy patches, which can be dangerous when downhill skiing or snowboarding. Wearing polarized glasses in the snow when not doing snow sports, however, is typically beneficial.
  • More expensive: Due to the special chemical film and treatment process used to create them, polarized sunglasses are (often) more costly than non-polarized ones. 
  • Enhanced image: While considered a benefit by most, some people find polarized sunglasses alter the appearance of their surroundings too much. For these folks, non-polarized sunglasses may be a better fit.

How to Tell If Sunglasses Are Polarized  

When shopping for a new pair of sunnies in person, you’ll notice a sticker or label that tells you if the lenses are polarized or not.  

Can’t find a label? Here is an optician’s secret: Wear the sunglasses and turn on your phone. If the screen goes black while rotating your phone, then the sunglasses are polarized! You can also test them out on a reflective surface. If they’re polarized, glare should be minimal and not bothersome. 

If you’re shopping online, the item description will state if the sunglasses are polarized or not. 

Keep in mind that just because sunglasses are labeled as UV (ultraviolet) blocking, that does not mean they are polarized. Those are two distinct features, so always search for the polarization label or description.  

Our Most Popular Polarized Sunglasses  

the bruce polarized sunglasses by prive revaux

#1: The Bruce 2.0 

These oversized, square sunglasses, available in four eye-catching color combos, offer shade, style, and an enhanced viewing experience. Feel confident rocking them on city streets, while driving around town, or at the beach. 

the maestro polarized sunglasses by prive revaux

#2: The Maestro 

Looking for a pair of polarized sunglasses that go with just about any outfit? You’ve found your match with The Maestro. Super laid-back yet stylish, these round shades are the perfect accessory for any occasion, from a lunch date to a day out on the lake.  

Check out the entire Maestro Family

the new yorker polarized sunglasses by prive revaux

#3: The New Yorker 

Calling all fashionistas! With trendy square lenses and ultra-wide temples, these polarized sunnies are sure to steal the show wherever you go. 

the hepburn polarized sunglasses for women by prive revaux

#4: The Hepburn 

These polarized cat-eye sunglasses are named after fashion icon Audrey Hepburn for good reason. They’re sophisticated and chic with just a hint of rebellion. 

the houston polarized sunglasses by prive revaux

#5: The Houston 

These shades offer a unique twist on classic aviators. Featuring squared-off lenses, a straight brow bar, and vivid lens colors, The Houston makes a statement in the best way possible.  

Are Polarized Sunglasses Worth It?  

The benefits of polarized sunglasses for outdoor activities are undeniable. They help to reduce glare and reflection, improving your visual experience, comfort, and safety when you’re:

  • Participating in water activities, such as boating, fishing, and kayaking  
  • Engaging in outdoor sports (besides snow sports)
  • Spending leisure time outdoors
  • Driving during the day

Whether or not they’re right for you is a personal decision, but most people agree that the benefits of polarized sunglasses are worth the slightly higher price tag.

One final tip: no matter what type of sunglasses you decide to buy, make sure they make you feel like the fabulous rockstar you are!  

Find your fit by exploring Privé Revaux’s wide selection of on-trend polarized sunglasses today.