The difference between polarized and non-polarized lenses is a common question among sunglasses shoppers. The short answer is that polarized lenses are chemically treated to absorb incoming horizontal light, whereas non-polarized glasses have not received this treatment. Mens polarized sunglasses and polarized sunglasses for women also differ from sunglasses that have mirrored lenses. Find out more about what sets polarized lenses apart from other lens types.

Why You Should Use Polarized Sunglasses

Glare reduction is the primary feature of polarized sunglasses. Glare is horizontally reflected sunlight. Depending on your surroundings, bright light may bounce off of the surface of water, snow or vehicles on the road. The only way to eliminate this occurance is to wear sunglasses with mirrored or polarized lenses.

The chemical film used in polarized sunglasses functions similarly to Venetian blinds. When you wear eyewear with polarized lenses, reflected light that is traveling in a horizontal rather than a vertical direction straight down from the sun gets blocked before it reaches your eyes. The right shade of polarized sunglasses may also enhance your vision in other ways, including boosting perception of contrast and colors.

How Polarized Sunglasses Work

Lenses are polarized through a process involving the application or integration of a chemical film. This film absorbs horizontal light while allowing vertical light to pass through. As a result, flashes of light that bounce off of the surface of water or other reflections are cancelled out. This lens treatment may increase overall visual acuity and reduce eye fatigue.

Sunglasses with polarized lenses can also block horizontal light that you need to see. The angle at which many people hold smartphones with backlit screens during use is often one which is blocked by lenses with this treatment. Shifting the angle of your phone by 90 degrees should be sufficient to keep the screen from looking dark.

The Downsides of Non-Polarized Lenses

Non-polarized lenses do not block light that gets reflected horizontally. As a result, even though this eyewear may provide complete protection from damaging ultraviolet rays, your eyes may still become fatigued by glare. This is particularly the case when you wear standard lenses near or on open water or other highly reflective surfaces.

Glare can be distracting and tiring, especially when a lot of light is being reflected. For this reason, many sunglasses sold for beach wear and eyewear intended for snow sports are polarized or mirrored. It is also possible to get lenses with both treatments. It is a good idea to factor in where you plan to wear sunglasses the most to select the right lens treatments and tints.

The wearers who are likely to benefit the most from polarized sunglasses are people who spend a lot of time in bright, reflective environments. From the beach and open water to the road and snowy surfaces, you may prefer to wear sunglasses that have polarized lenses in any places where you would otherwise encounter glare. Polarized sunglasses can protect your eyes from ultraviolet light while reducing one of the primary causes of eye strain and fatigue.