Polarized vs Non-Polarized Sunglasses... What's the Difference?

Polarized Sunglasses vs. Non-Polarized

You've heard the term before. You've wondered what it means. You may even have a pair of polarized sunglasses already, and that's great! But do you really know what makes polarized lenses so great? Let me tell you...

First of all, wearing proper UV protected sunglasses is arguably the most important thing that can be done to protect eye health and vision. Many of the sunglasses currently on the market in big box stores may not appropriately protect the eyes from harmful UV rays. According to the American Optometric Association, lenses should block at least 99% of UVA and UVB rays, and the addition of UV 400 protection is even better because it blocks even the smallest UV rays.

Polarized Sunglasses vs. Non-Polarized


Polarized Sunglasses on the beach without a filter applied

Sunglasses should be thought of just like sunscreen and worn every time you're outdoors! Cloudy skies can be deceiving, as the skin and the eyes can get sunburned on days when the sun doesn't shine brightly. Just because you're not squinting doesn't mean you don't need those sunglasses. UV damage is cumulative over a lifetime, further increasing the importance of sun protection for children as well as adults. Sunglasses also help fend off those crow's feet we hate so much...bonus!

Polarized sunglasses are becoming extremely popular because they provide crisp, glare-free vision for so many activities. Normally, when the sun hits a flat surface such as water, the road, or a windshield, it bounces off and is horizontally polarized. This causes extremely intensive light to travel directly to your eye. Polarized lenses contain a unique filter that blocks this horizontally polarized light, reducing that awful glare! Regular, non-polarized sunglasses allow this intense, blinding light to hit your eyes. Yikes.

If you've worn polarized sunglasses before, you know that there are a few instances where they can be bothersome. I hear you already..."I can't see my cell phone screen!" Polarized lenses decrease the visibility of most LCD and LED screens, including your cell phone, gas pump displays, and dashboard displays in your car. Pilots are unable to wear these glare-reducing shades because it interferes with their ability to see their instrument panel.

But for the rest of us that just want to have a great time boating or fishing on a Saturday afternoon, polarized lenses are the best thing since sliced bread...and we can promise you'll never go back to gas station cheapos! If you're looking for the absolute top tier, check out Maui Jim Sunglasses. Ray Ban also makes a nice polarized lens if you have the money to invest. Below we cover the 13 best polarized sunglasses:

13 Best Polarized Sunglasses

1. William Painter - The Hook Titanium Polarized Sunglasses with Bottle Opener

The William Painter "The Hook" Titanium Polarized Sunglasses are our #1 choice because they're so versatile! This is a classic style made with aerospace grade titanium, so these frames are super lightweight and durable. We love that they have the world's lightest nylon polarized lenses with scratch resistance and 100% UVA UVB protection. They're also an authentic, small batch design made by an independent team in California.

In addition, they come with a discrete yet interesting feature...a bottle opener. This bottle opener is set within the temple or ear piece of the frame, so you won't notice it until you're ready to use it on your favorite beverage. This is the perfect pair of sunglasses for a day on the lake, out on the town, or just hanging out with friends and family. 

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Where can I buy William Painter's "The Hook" polarized sunglasses?

2. Eye Love Polarized Sunglasses

While other sunglasses have no polarization, minimal UV protection, or simply just break after a few uses, Eye Love Polarized Sunglasses have 100% UV protection, polarized, glare free lenses, and are made with TR-90 material. This lightweight plastic frame has unique stainless-steel, double-spring hinges that are sturdy and designed for maximum comfort.

On top of their high quality sunglasses, we love the mission as well. For every pair you purchase, Eye Love gives a portion of sales back to those in need of eye care both in the United States and abroad. We believe the Eye Love sunglasses are the best out there for their value!

Where can I buy Eye Love Sunglasses?


3. Ray-Ban New Wayfarer Classic, Rubber Black Frame

You knew we couldn't craft this list without including Ray-Ban. Ray-Ban is the world's most iconic eyewear brand and is a global leader in its sector. Every model in the Ray-Ban collection is the product of meticulous, original styling that translates the best of the latest fashion trends into an ever-contemporary look for millions of Ray-Ban wearers around the world.

Using the same iconic shape as the classic wayfarer, these sunglasses offer an updated version that includes a smaller frame and slightly softer eye shape. These lightweight and durable frames boast polarized lenses for 100% UV protection and new gradient lenses and matte colors are available to make this style even cooler.

Ray Ban New Classic

Where can I buy the Ray-Ban New Wayfarer Classic Sunglasses?

4. Maui Jim Makaha (My Favorite!)

I absolutely love this pair of sunglasses, and I believe it's one of the best options for a great pair of unbreakable, sporty sunglasses. Plus, they're super lightweight! Maui Jim is a well-known, privately owned company who prides themselves on crafting the absolutely best quality polarized sunglasses on the market. If optimal vision is what you're looing for, Maui Jim sunglasses are what you need.

They recently earned the Skin Cancer Foundation Seal of Recommendation as an effective UV filter for their PolarizedPlus 2 Technology, and their polycarbonate lenses are a great addition. One of the other reasons I love Maui Jim is because of their outstanding customer service and 100% money-back, satisfaction guarantee. 

Where can I buy the Maui Jim Makaha Sunglasses?

5. Oakley Men's Fuel Cell Rectangular Sunglasses

Oakley was created for world-class athletes, those who see the limits of possibility as just another challenge. Their dedication drives the brand to look beyond the conventional ideas of industry standards. It's in Oakley's DNA to identify problems, create inventions, and wrap those inventions in art.

The Fuel Cell style is a combination of clean and authentic. It has a smooth look and its originality and authenticity speaks for itself. These sunglasses are widely popular and, although they're not polarized, they are able to be customized with your prescription, which is nice. Overall, this is a great pair of sunglasses for all of your needs.

Where can I buy the Oakley Fuel Cell Sunglasses?

6. REKS Unbreakable, Wrap Around Sunglasses

REKS makes a great pair of sunglasses made with lightweight, unbreakable, and high quality polymers to ensure that you have these shades for a long time. The frame material has a rubberized finish that absorbs sweat and enhances grip and comfort, which is pretty cool if you're wearing these for sports.

UV400 polarized lenses ensure that your eyes are protected from glare and 100% of the UVA and UVB light out there. I love this sporty style as well, and I know many people are looking for a similar indestructible style. This may be it!

Where can I buy the REKS Sunglasses?

7. The Crux by Nectar (Budget Friendly)

EuphoricHD Polarized Lenses provide high end quality without the high-end price. Like blinds on a window, these lenses prevent the glare from hitting your eyes. This reduces the blinding eyestrain off water and snow and allows for comfy, happy, relaxed eyes with unobstructed vision. These sunglasses also come in a variety of colors to suit any taste.

The timeless look and feel of this frame seems to capture the feeling of being young and on top of the world. These frames will always be the most important part of the roots of Nectar's company, and they're a constant reminder to live life to the fullest. Also, we love this brand because they partner with The Bee Cause, to help repopulate endangered honey bees in the United States. For every purchase, they donate a portion of profits to this important program. 

Where can I buy The Crux by Nectar?

8. Costa Del Mar Fantail

A favorite of so many of our Southern friends, Costa knows quality and style. Always ready to hit the flats or hook a deep-sea behemoth, the Costa Fantail sunglasses are the perfect size and offer great durability. One of the best polarized sunglasses on the water, these men's performance sport fishing sunglasses with mirrored options are polarized, co-molded and are perfect for any angler.

Costa's 580 Polycarbonate polarized lens provides high clarity, impact- and scratch-resistance along with lightweight all day wear-ability. This co-injected bio-based nylon frame material is both tough and durable, while offering a comfortable fit. I also love that every pair of Costa sunglasses includes a limited lifetime warranty.

Where can I buy the Costa Del Mar Fantail?

9. goodr OG Sunglasses 

Eliminate slippage when sweating and bouncing while running due to the special grip coating and snug, yet featherweight, frame. This pick is perfect for runners or anyone who plays sports such as soccer, tennis, and basketball. These shades feature glare-reducing, polarized lenses with 100% UV protection.

goodr started with the belief that running is fun and your stories and gear should be too. They designed the goodr OGs to look good(r) and stay comfortably on your face whether you're haulin' ass down a mountain trail or drinking beers in a Mexican cantina. If you love style and hate when sunglasses slip down your nose, these are for you.

Where can I buy the goodr OG Sunglasses?

10. Typhoon Mariner Sunglasses

Typhoon Optics is for the wearer that demands the most from their sunglasses both in style and function. The resilient frames are engineered for all day comfort. The lenses are polycarbonate and UV protected, ensuring that your eyes are fully protected.

Typhoon lenses are manufactured by a division of Carl Zeiss Optics, and most models are compatible with a prescription from your eye doctor (according to the company - but check with your doctor). The sporty look of these sunglasses is one that many people out there are looking for, and I believe it's a great option for unbreakable sunglasses.

Typhoon Mariner Sunglasses

Where can I buy Typhoon Mariner Polarized Sunglasses? 

11. Costa Del Mar Saltbreak Sunglasses

There's nothing fancy about these bold, hardworking frames—they're just eye-catching. Made of a durable nylon and with sturdy integral hinges, they're as tough as they look. On top of that, they're versatile: they come in five epic colors.

Costa's co-injected bio-based nylon frame material is both tough and durable, while offering a comfortable fit. TR-90 nylon is a premier material for sports and performance frames as it is resistant to heat and cold. Though it is flexible, it is still durable. Nylon is easily molded into Costa's iconic wraparound shape.

Where can I buy Costa Del Mar Saltbreak?

12. Oakley Half Jacket 2.0 XL Polarized Sunglasses

Performance, protection and comfort are sculpted into a new dimension of style with an interchangeable lens design that keeps you a step ahead of changing light conditions. The latest evolution of the coveted Half Jacket sunglasses, these wrap your vision in the razor-sharp clarity of high definition optics.

These boast 100% UV protection and include a specialized feature that decreases slip when you sweat. They're lightweight, polarized, and everything you'd want in an indestrictible pair of polarized sunglasses.

Where can I buy the Oakley Half Jacket 2.0?

13. Eye Love Lincoln Blue Blockers that Transition to Sunglasses

Yes, I know this isn't your traditional pair of sunglasses, but there are likely many of you who sit in front of a computer or stare at your phone all day. While most blue light blocking glasses have no protection outside, minimal UV protection, lenses that cause glare, or simply look ugly, the Eye Love Blue Blocking Glasses have everything you need, including blue blocking technology with clear lenses indoors that transition to 100% UV protected, glare free sunglasses outdoors.

Because you're blocking the blue light from all of your devices, this means better sleep, increased energy, and better eye protection with glasses that smoothly take you from indoors to outdoors and back.


Do you have a favorite on this list? Let us know in the comments below!

FAQs about Polarized vs Non Polarized Sunglasses

Is polarized better than non polarized?

When discussing sunglasses, it’s important to make sure that they are UV protected over all else. UV protection is what protects your eyes from the damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun. Polarization, however, is more of a preference and is there to decrease glare that may come from snow, water, windshields, and the like. Polarized lenses filter light more readily than non-polarized lenses, therefore decreasing the glare you’ll notice while out and about.

Are Polarized lenses worth it?

The answer to this question is all relative. Chances are, if you’ve worn polarized sunglasses before, you’ll never go back to wearing non polarized lenses. That being said, they’re not for everyone. Some people will prefer dark gray non-polarized lenses to polarized ones, even though a polarized lens will always filter more glare than the darker lenses. If you’ve never tried a pair of polarized sunglasses, we can’t recommend them enough. They’re wonderful for most people!

Why do pilots wear non polarized sunglasses?

LCD displays, which are present in cockpits (as well as some cell phone screens, gas pumps, and car displays) give off polarized light. Because of this, polarized sunglasses block the ability to see these displays clearly, which can be a definite hazard while piloting an airplane. Polarized lenses can also be an issue for pilots when they’re watching out for nearby aircraft. Because of the ability to block so much glare, pilots may miss glare given off by nearby aircraft.

Should you wear polarized sunglasses?

Before anything else, you should make sure that you’re wearing 100% UV blocking sunglasses. This ensures that your eyes are protected from ultraviolet light that can lead to eye diseases such as cataracts (not to mention wrinkly crow’s feet!) If you’re a skier, love to boat or fish, or drive a lot, you may want to try polarized sunglasses for their superior glare reduction. That being said, some people will not benefit from polarized lenses (such as pilots) and some may find them irritating due to their ability to completely block the viewing of LCD displays.



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