Skip to Main Content Skip to Accessibility
Group of Friends Wearing Knockarounds

Are Polarized Glasses Better? Everything You Need to Know About These Popular Glasses

April 28, 2023

  • Share on Facebook
  • Tweet
  • Pin it

Are you considering a choice between polarized sunglasses and non-polarized sunglasses? If so, you probably have some questions. Are polarized sunglasses better for your eyes? Might non-polarized lenses be better for some situations? Let’s answer those questions and more!


What are polarized sunglasses?

Polarized sunglasses have lenses that are specifically designed to reduce the wearer’s exposure to harsh sunlight from reflective surfaces, such as water or snow. We call this horizontally oriented light "glare," and polarized sunglasses filter out this glare. By blocking horizontal light that reflects off flat surfaces, polarized lenses allow only vertically oriented light to pass through. This results in a much clearer and more comfortable view in bright sunlight. Polarized sunglasses can also provide better color discernment, improve depth perception, and enhance clarity of vision. 

Girl wearing Pacific Palisades Sunglasses


Why should we care about glare?

When sunlight hits a reflective surface, such as a body of water, polarized light is reflected in a horizontal pattern. This often results in glare, which makes it difficult to see in bright light, as our eyes are highly sensitive to light. Sun glare causes overexposure of the image, impacting a person’s perception of what they’re seeing. This glare can be blinding and can also cause eyestrain and headaches if you’re exposed to it for too long. Polarized lenses block out this horizontally polarized light, reducing glare, reducing eye strain, and allowing you to see more clearly.

Guy on the beach wearing Pacific Palisades Sunglasses


The Benefits of Polarized Lenses 

The main benefit of polarized lenses — in essence, why they exist — is glare reduction. Through light filtration. By filtering out reflected light, polarized lenses allow the wearer to see better in conditions in which glare is an issue. By reducing glare, polarized sunglasses also reduce eye strain, so the wearer can enjoy clearer vision for longer periods of time in bright, sunny conditions. Making polarized glasses a great choice for anyone who spends lots of time outdoors.

Polarized sunglasses also help to make vision clearer and sharper in these high-sunlight situations, improving overall visibility. By filtering out the light that can cause distortion, the wearer can gain clarity and better visibility, improving their overall vision. Additionally, polarized lenses can enhance colors and increase sharpness perception, allowing for improved visual acuity, which is the eye’s ability to distinguish the details and shapes of objects at a given distance. For example, normal visual acuity is considered 20/20 vision — clear vision at 20 feet.


What’s the difference between polarized glasses and non-polarized glasses?

Polarized sunglasses have lenses with special filters that reduce glare from surfaces such as water, snow, and glass. Non-polarized sunglasses don’t have this filter, so they don’t reduce glare. Polarized sunglasses can be better for activities such as fishing and daytime driving, as they reduce the amount of sunlight and may make it easier to see in these conditions. Non-polarized sunglasses may be better for activities such as skiing and snowboarding, as they allow more light to pass through and make it easier to see ground conditions. Polarized lenses can also affect color perception, making colors appear more vivid.

Girl on a boat wearing Pacific Palisades Sunglasses  

When should you wear polarized sunglasses?

When the sun is at its brightest and harshest, that’s the best time to wear polarized sunglasses. This could include times when sunlight is especially intense while you’re out on the water fishing or boating, on a beach, or in the mountains. Polarized glasses can also be great for protecting your eyes when you're outside in the snow, as they can help reduce the glare from the sun reflecting off the snow. If you are a cyclist, polarized sunglasses may be incredibly helpful. The glare reduction of polarized lenses can help you see the road ahead more clearly, reducing the glare from the sun that can be distracting while riding.

Daytime driving may benefit from polarized sunglasses, as the light reflected off of the cars ahead tends to be horizontally oriented. In general, if you spend a lot of time outdoors, polarized lenses can help reduce the strain on your eyes caused by squinting.


When shouldn’t you wear polarized lenses?

Polarized sunglasses are a great option for protecting your eyes from the sun’s harsh rays, but there are certain times when you shouldn’t wear them. Looking at an LCD screen is one such time, as polarized lenses can interfere with the visibility of digital displays. This could make a smartphone or a GPS device more difficult to read, which may be a significant issue when you’re driving. 

Are polarized sunglasses always better for driving? No. While polarized sunglasses may be suitable for some daytime driving, they are not recommended for nighttime driving. Nor in similar low-light situations in which clear vision is key to one’s safety. Polarized lenses may also reduce the visibility of traffic signals and signs, and can distort the appearance of highly reflective or metallic surfaces, such as the hood of your car. So keep these factors in mind before putting on polarized glasses to get behind the wheel. 

And while polarized glasses are great for minimizing the effects of glare off of snow and, in that respect, suitable for hitting the slopes, polarized lenses can hinder one’s ability to distinguish between ice and snow. So consider that when choosing to go with polarized lenses or not while skiing or snowboarding.


Are polarized sunglasses and glasses with UV protection the same thing? 

No. Polarized lenses and UV protection are different. Polarized lenses provide protection from glare, eliminating or significantly reducing light that’s reflected off of horizontal surfaces such as water. This reduces eye strain. UV protection lenses provide protection from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, lowering the chance of physical damage to the eyes, such as cataracts, photokeratitis (a.k.a. snow blindness), and possibly even eye cancer. So which should you get? Should you choose polarization or UV protection? With Knockaround, you can have both! All of our best-selling sunglasses and custom frames, which carry a UV400 rating, offer the option of polarized lenses.

Runners wearing the Desert Premiums Sport


The Best Polarized Sunglasses for Sports

Constructed with a super lightweight polycarbonate material, Premiums Sport sunglasses are a great polarized option for active times. These tough shades have FDA-approved impact resistant lenses, rubberized frames, and an embedded rubber nose pad to keep your glasses in place during even the most active sports action. With UV400 protection! Pick a pair with polarized Caribbean moonshine lenses for a vibrant pop of color that makes them shine with personality. Another great option for sportier times, Fast Lanes Sports offer the same toughness and protection with a more low-profile look that complements people with medium to larger face shapes.

Runner wearing the Premium Sport Sunglasses

Polarized Sunglasses for Occasions of All Kinds

Polarized lenses aren’t just for sports. And you don’t need to be traversing a snow-swept mountain or navigating an ocean under the sun’s harsh rays to enjoy the benefits of polarized sunglasses. One can wear them on casual outings and simply enjoy polarized sunglasses as their favorite fashion accessories. Slip on a pair of polarized Mai Tais to display the sophisticated style presented by the rounded frame silhouette. Enjoy their versatility, shifting from a day at the beach to a dressy event with ease. You don’t even need to think about the benefits of their polarized lenses! Perhaps aviator shades are more your style? Maybe you’ll choose a pair of polarized Mile Highs.


Polarized Glasses for Vintage Glamour

Oversized sunglasses with a dash of cat-eye flair offer a sophisticated look that’s timelessly chic. Though Deja Views feel decidedly modern. They are perfect to pair with the contemporary couture of today’s well-dressed set. These versatile sunglasses are elegant enough for finer occasions, yet rooted in traditional design, which makes them easy companions for the most casual of outings.

An homage to the iconic days of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Songbirds embrace a unique vintage style, capturing the glamor and the cool confidence that so easily emanated from the stars of the silver screen. But now with contemporary design details that bring these shades into the modern age. Going for a look with some nicely chilled mystique? Consider a pair of Piano Black Songbirds. If it’s a light pop of carefree color you seek, envision yourself in Vintage Rose Songbirds.

Girl wearing the new Songbird Sunglasses 

Personalize Your Polarized Sunglasses

You can get Knockaround polarized sunglasses in a wide variety of frame styles. The ability to mix and match frame and lens color combinations offers a massive range of possibilities to find the pair that fits your personal sense of style exactly. There are over 1,000,000 unique combinations across our best-selling frame styles! Not into off-the-rack sunglasses? Not a problem. With the Knockaround CUSTOM Shop, you can create a one-of-a-kind pair of personalized glasses, making your unique design vision a reality.

From fishing sunglasses and cycling glasses to shades for all kinds of sunny activities, polarized sunglasses may be your best bet. Check out of our collection of polarized sunglasses to see which pairs fit your style. 

Written by William McCleary for Knockaround.

SEE MORE Journal