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Are Polarized Sunglasses Better?

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A woman wearing polarized sunglasses and a summer hat with an illustration of how the sun's UV rays are reflected by the polarized lenses.

Sunglasses are more than just a fashion accessory—they are crucial in protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays and reducing glare, which can impair vision and increase your risk of future eye problems. Whether you’re driving, at the beach, or simply enjoying a sunny day, a reliable pair of sunglasses is essential for maintaining eye health and comfort.

Polarized sunglasses take eye protection a step further by incorporating a special coating that minimizes glare and may be better in some situations. Unlike regular sunglasses, which primarily reduce the overall brightness, polarized lenses specifically target glare from reflective surfaces like water, snow, and roads. This feature makes them particularly beneficial for many outdoor activities.

Importance of Protecting Your Eyes from the Sun

We can safeguard our eyes and maintain long-term eye health by wearing sunglasses to block harmful UV rays. Prolonged exposure to UV rays can lead to various eye conditions and issues. UV radiation can contribute to cataracts, which cloud the eye’s lens and can impair vision. Additionally, UV exposure is linked to macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss in older adults. The delicate skin around the eyes is also susceptible to sun damage, leading to premature aging and an increased risk of skin cancer. 

Understanding Polarized Lens Technology

Before we get into why polarized sunglasses may be the better option, let’s quickly review what polarized lens technology is.

Polarization is a process that involves coating the lens with a chemical film that filters light. When light reflects off surfaces, it becomes polarized and travels in multiple directions. Polarized lenses allow vertical light to pass through while blocking horizontal light waves responsible for most glare. This filtering provides clear, more comfortable vision when doing things with increased brightness and glare.

Advantages of Polarized Sunglasses Over Regular Sunglasses

Polarized sunglasses have several advantages that could make them better than regular sunglasses in some situations.

Enhanced Visual Clarity

Polarized lenses significantly improve visual clarity and contrast, making it easier to see objects and details. This is especially pronounced when doing things with a lot of glare off a bright surface—like around water or snow. 

For example, try wearing sunglasses next time you go fishing. You’ll likely be amazed at how much better you can see into the water because of how your sunglasses affect the light waves.

Reduced Eye Strain

Have you ever spent a lot of time squinting in the sun? You probably noticed that your eyes became fatigued after a while. Polarized sunglasses can help reduce eye strain and fatigue from glare, allowing you to wear them comfortably for extended periods.

Improved Safety

Polarized sunglasses enhance safety by providing clearer vision and better depth perception. These sunglasses can be especially beneficial for drivers and outdoor enthusiasts. For example, a downhill skier would probably benefit from wearing goggles with polarized lenses. The lenses would allow them to see more definition in the snow for safety’s sake.

Drawbacks to Wearing Polarized Sunglasses

While polarized sunglasses offer numerous benefits, they may not be suitable for every situation. For example, some LCD screens (like those on your phone or car dashboard) can appear dark or distorted when viewed through polarized lenses. Pilots and boaters might find that polarized lenses interfere with their ability to read instrument panels.

However, some high-quality polarized sunglasses may not affect your ability to read electronics. A quick test will help determine if polarized sunglasses are the right choice.

Close-up of a pair of blue polarized sunglasses placed on a sandy seashore.

Choosing the Right Polarized Sunglasses

Not all sunglasses—polarized or not—are made equal. Some factors to consider when choosing them include:

Lens Color

Different lens colors can enhance vision in various environments, and you may prefer different shades over others. For instance, gray lenses are often great for general use, while brown or amber lenses improve contrast in low-light conditions.

UV Protection

Polarization is an excellent coating for the lens that adds numerous benefits but doesn’t equal UV protection. So, ensure the sunglasses offer 100% UV protection to shield your eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays, not just reduce glare and brightness.

Fit & Comfort

Look for sunglasses that fit well and feel comfortable during prolonged wear. Adjustable nose pads and temple tips can enhance comfort. Your sunglasses should also be an extension of your style. So, don’t get so focused on function that you forget to choose frames to compliment your style.


It may be tempting to opt for the cheaper sunglasses. Polarized sunglasses are common now, and you can often find great budget options. But opting for high-quality materials that can withstand daily wear and tear will pay off in the long run if you can swing it.

Discuss Your Sunglasses Choice with Your Eye Doctor

It’s not always clear what the best choice is—even for something seemingly as simple as a sunglasses choice. And you want to ensure you’re getting eyewear that checks all the boxes if you spend the money on high-quality sunglasses.

Contact us at Bluebird Vision & Wellness, or stop by and check out our great selection of stylish eyewear. We’re happy to get you an updated prescription if needed or support you in your quest for polarized sunglasses.

Dr. Cody Jones, O.D. at Bluebird Eye Care in Blackfoot, Idaho.

Written by Dr. Cody Jones

Dr. Jones is a fully licensed Doctor of Optometry (O.D.). He graduated from Pennsylvania College of Optometry in Philadelphia with academic and clinical honors—receiving both Doctor of Optometry and Bachelor of Science degrees. Upon his graduation, Dr. Jones served as an officer and doctor at the Naval Medical Center of San Diego, where he gained valuable experience. He was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal during this service.

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