Before You Buy: Frequently Asked Questions About Polarized Sunglasses


Polarized sunglasses are everywhere but so many people have yet to upgrade their shades. If you want to know more about polarization filters before you invest, this guide will provide answers to a few of the most commonly asked questions about polarized sunglasses. Let this FAQ help you choose the perfect pair of polarized shades for everyday wear.

How do polarized filters work to protect the eyes?

Polarization filters help to block light reflected along a horizontal surface – this is why polarized sunglasses work so well to eliminate glare from water, windows, car bodies, snow, etc. These filters catch a good amount of ambient light scattered from the pavement as well. This helps to reduce the overall amount of harsh light reaching your eyes, so you can get away with wearing lighter tinted sunglasses. Tinted sunglasses reduce visual clarity but a polarized filter is almost colorless.

When are polarized sunglasses most useful?

They’re best when the sun is high in the sky. This is not to say that polarized sunglasses aren’t useful in the morning and evening as well, (the polarization does a great job of eliminating that aggravating dawn and dusk road glare) but you’ll find the filters most effective around noon. As long as the tint is dark enough to handle the sunrise and sunset, a pair of polarized sunglasses will work great all day long.

Who uses polarized sunglasses? Are they useful for sports?

Polarized sunglasses are standard equipment in many sporting activities. People who fish or collect shells like to wear polarized sunglasses because the lenses all but eliminate glare on the water, allowing a careful eye to see the fish or objects below. Joggers and cyclists use polarized sunglasses to reduce ambient road glare, and skiers/snowboarders use polarized goggles to fight against snow blindness (but not on icy days, as polarized filters can make ice seem invisible).

Why are polarized sunglasses so expensive?

They don’t have to be. Polarization should not add much to the cost of a pair of sunglasses: adding the polarization only takes a few cents per pair. You’re actually paying extra for the design or material of the frames and the construction of the lenses – quality can vary a great degree in these departments, and so can price. With that in mind, a brand should never charge more for the exact same pair of sunglasses just because one is polarized: it doesn’t cost much to buy designer shades with polarization.

How can you tell if a pair of sunglasses is really polarized?

Sometimes knockoff brands will advertise polarized lenses without actually having the goods to back those claims up. Don’t let the fakes fool you; there are two quick and simple ways to identify real polarized lenses right in the store. People who have worn polarized lenses before should be able to tell just by using the sunglasses to look at a reflective surface. The glare is gone.

The second way is to choose a pair of sunglasses you’re sure are polarized and hold them perpendicular to the pair you want to buy. If the lenses turn opaque, that means both pairs are polarized. While you’re picking out sunglasses, make sure to double-check the UV protection as well – it’s unfortunate how many manufacturers shortchange consumers when it comes to eye health.

Will polarized sunglasses interfere with electronic displays?

Some types of electronic dashboard displays are difficult to see through polarized lenses – most manufacturers don’t use light polarized at a degree that your sunglasses would catch, but it does happen. Make sure to ask about the return policy on your sunglasses if you want them for driving but aren’t sure about how they’d react with your dashboard LEDs. Polarized sunglasses can also make a rainbow-like “oil slick” pattern on tempered glass windows but most drivers learn to ignore this effect quickly.

Polarized sunglasses are useful all day long, all year long – your eyes are well worth the investment. Take some time to choose a pair of polarized sunglasses you’ll want to wear every day. Combine polarization with complete UV protection, good peripheral coverage, and durable frames, and you’re sure to end up with the perfect pair of take-along sunglasses for every occasion.