Polarized vs. Non-Polarized Sunglasses

In your search for the perfect pair of sunglasses, you may have come across the phrase "polarized sunglasses". The very mention of the word may have left you perplexed. Perhaps you brushed it off thinking it's yet another marketing gimmick. Think again!

NASA developed polarized sunglasses to protect astronauts' eyes from space radiation. However, over time, polarized sunglasses made their way into retail stores and are used by anglers, sailors, skiers and everyone who would like to protect their eyes.

So, what are polarized sunglasses? What's the difference between polarized sunglasses vs non-polarized sunglasses? Are polarized sunglasses better? Which one should you buy?

We answer all these questions and more in this post. Let's dive right in!

What are Polarized Sunglasses?

Sunglasses featuring polarized lenses are known as polarized sunglasses. These lenses contain a special coating that keeps away the glare from the sun. Glare usually happens when light bounces off any reflective surface like a car's dashboard, asphalt, sheet metal or a lake. When you wear polarized sunglasses, the glare gets blocked, giving you clearer vision.

In short, polarized sunglasses help protect your eyes against bright light while reducing glare. They are ideal for outdoor activities like diving, fishing or skiing.

What makes polarized lenses special is the thin chemical film they are coated with. This film helps keep away the harsh light that's reflected off any shiny surface such as snow, water and glass. Essentially, polarized glasses help improve your vision and safety when you are outdoors. 

Equipped with polarized lenses, you can see through sunlit windows or beneath the water's surface without stressing your eyes. Standard lenses (non-polarized), on the other hand, simply reduce the intensity of shimmering or bright reflections.

Here's how polarized sunglasses work.

Reflective surfaces like glass, flat water, smooth hardtops or snow polarize natural sunlight, directing its waves in a single horizontal direction. This can dazzle and strain your eyes. The strong glare could prove painful or worse yet harmful to your eyes. Polarized sunglasses minimize the reflection to shield your eyes.

The special chemicals coating polarized sunglasses are generally arranged vertically, just like the blinds on a window. This blocks out the penetrating rays of horizontal light. In short, polarized lenses scatter light to ensure it is not all reflected directly into the eye, thereby allowing you to see clearly and without disturbance from the reflected light.

What are Non-Polarized Sunglasses?

Non-polarized glasses are standard sunglasses that protect you against the harmful UV rays and keep your eyes from straining. They do not have the ability to block out horizontal light rays like polarized lenses. In other words, non-polarized sunglasses do not come coated with any special chemical films to reduce glare.

They are great for regular use when you are driving cars or sitting by the pool. However, they may fall short when you are looking to use them for outdoor sports such as fishing, skiing, boating, etc.

Although polarized and non-polarized lenses are used for outdoor activities, they are completely different.

  • Coating - Polarized lenses feature a chemical coating that helps reduce glare. However, non-polarized sunglasses do not have such a coating. With non-polarized lenses, you will have a hard time seeing in bright light.
  • Filtration – Polarized lenses let vertical waves in while filtering horizontal light waves, thereby reducing glare. However, non-polarized sunglasses only filter UV rays and do not keep out glare.
  • Type of protection - Non-polarized lenses treat all types of light the same way and simply reduce the overall intensity of light, and nothing more! Although this will protect your eyes against harmful light, it does not protect against glare when you are around reflective surfaces like snow, water or glass. Polarized sunglasses not only filter ambient light, but also cancel out glare.
  • Cost – Polarized lenses cost more when compared to non-polarized glasses, which tend to be inexpensive.
  • Shade – Polarized lenses are darker compared to non-polarized lenses.

Benefits of Polarized Sunglasses

When you are spending time outside, you will appreciate the distinct advantage that polarized lenses offer in high-glare situations or when you want to experience the best vision when you are headed outdoors.

Polarized sunglasses offer an array of advantages:

  • They help reduce glare from any reflective surface including sun, glass, snow and water.
  • Polarized lenses can be customized with UV protective coating to keep out the sun's harmful rays.
  • Polarized glasses offer clear vision by keeping out glare, so you can see clearly.
  • Polarized sunglasses improve visual clarity and contrast in brighter situations.
  • They help minimize eye strain when you are outdoors.
  • Polarized lenses minimize color distortion, which means you can perceive the colors as they are. This is something that regular sunglasses do not offer.

Disadvantages of Polarized Sunglasses

Polarized sunglasses boast an array of benefits. However, it helps to take note of some disadvantages depending on what you seek from your sunglasses. Although these are not dealbreakers, it helps to know these things so you can make an informed choice:

  • You may have difficulty viewing LCD screens
  • Have trouble differentiating between white colors (i.e., ice and snow on the mountain)
  • The filtering may be far too much for your preferences

Benefits of Non-Polarized Sunglasses

Non-polarized glasses have their own benefits:

  • Non-polarized lenses come with a UV protection coating to help protect your eyes against UV rays.
  • Non-polarized glasses can lower the overall intensity of sunlight on your eyes.
  • You can comfortably read with your non-polarized sunglasses on.

Disadvantages of Non-Polarized Sunglasses

Although non-polarized sunglasses are a good way to safeguard your eyes and are sufficient for many, their biggest drawback is that they do not offer the same kind of protection that polarized lenses do.

  • Non-polarized lenses do not block glare.
  • They do not enhance colors and do not offer the same level of clarity that polarized glasses do.
  • Extended exposure to reflective light can lead to headaches and eye strain.

When to use Polarized Sunglasses?

Polarized lenses are ideal for anyone who wants to spend time outdoors, especially when you expect the presence of bright light or glare. Polarized lenses are great for the following activities:

  • Fishing – Polarized sunglasses are perfect for fishing as they help you see beneath the surface of the water surface.
  • Boating – When you are out boating, the light's reflection on the water can put a strain on your eyes. Sports polarized sunglasses can reduce this, allowing you to see under the water.
  • Athletic activities – Sports polarized sunglasses are a great option for athletes to see clearly while avoiding hazards.
  • Golfing – Polarized lenses can help minimize glare on fairways, ensuring a better golfing experience.
  • Driving during the day – When sunlight hits the windshield (especially on a clear day), the light scatters into a bright distracting glare. Polarized lenses can block this glare, allowing you to see clearly and drive safely.

When to use Non-Polarized Sunglasses?

Non-polarized lenses are a good fit when you are:

  • Operating heavy machinery.
  • Reading LCD screens regularly.
  • Skiing in an icy area as you can see the ice better with non-polarized lenses.

Polarized vs. Non-Polarized Sunglasses - FAQs

  • Are polarized lenses available with prescription glasses? - Polarized glasses are available with and without prescription lenses. If you use prescription lenses, you can opt for prescription polarized sunglasses. You must note that because of their distinct benefits, polarized prescription sunglasses typically cost more than non-polarized prescription glasses.
  • Are kids' polarized sunglasses available? - Yes, MarsQuest offers a range of kids' polarized sunglasses. Explore our kids' section to find the perfect kids polarized sunglasses for your little ones.
  • Why polarized sunglasses? - Polarized glasses are a great way to minimize light glare and eyestrain when you are out fishing, boating or on snow-clad mountains.
  • Do polarized sunglasses affect depth perception? - No, polarization does not in any way affect depth perception. In fact, they offer better contrast in bright light.

Choosing between Polarized vs. Non-Polarized Sunglasses

Both non-polarized and polarized sunglasses have their advantages, and the type of sunglasses you choose would primarily depends on your needs. Both types of sunglasses help protect your eyes in different ways.

Polarized sunglasses are designed to work hard to protect your eyes, especially when you are subjected to harsh sunlight.

They also improve colors while offering clarity and considerable contrast. If you are not after these features or do not have a lifestyle that requires these features, then non-polarized sunglasses may work for you.

Buy Quality Polarized or Non-Polarized Sunglasses at MarsQuest

No matter what you decide between polarized vs. non-polarized sunglasses, MarsQuest can help you find the right glasses for you. We offer polarized sunglasses from a variety of brands including Haven polarized sunglasses. Whether you are looking for kids' polarized sunglasses, prescription polarized sunglasses or fit-over polarized sunglasses, we have you covered.

Should you have any questions or need help finding the right pair of glasses, our friendly team is happy to assist. Get in touch with our team today or call 0365-608-5666 to get started!


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