Shop our collection of the best polarized sunglasses to find an array of styles that will improve your vision by eliminating glare and enhancing contrast. Maui Jim and Costa have long made polarized glasses for the specific purpose of reducing glare that comes off the water. But polarized sunglasses aren't just for fishing and water sports. Ray-Ban—a fashionable choice in eyewear for keeping your eyes comfortable and safe in bright light conditions—is the most popular maker of polarized glasses at FramesDirect.
Polarized sunglasses are fitted with lenses treated especially to realign incoming horizontal light, thus reducing glare, improving contrast, and relieving eye strain. This technology exists anywhere sunglasses are sold, but finding the best polarized sunglasses can be difficult. While many makers claim their glasses are polarized, the quality of their glare-blocking properties and the level of UV protection they offer varies widely among them. To find men’s and women’s polarized sunglasses that truly qualify as the best, you need to understand polarization and how it works to reduce glare.
You’re commuting in the morning when, suddenly, intense sunlight bounces off the cars ahead and blinds you. Maybe you’re out on the open water and have trouble looking in any direction because the ripples are sparkling with bright sunlight. Or maybe you’re fishing your favorite river and your friend points to a fish below the surface, but all you see is the reflection of the sun and sky. These are all examples of vision glare, or “difficulty seeing in the presence of bright light or reflection." Glare is experienced in two ways:
Glare happens when intense light bounces off of a surface and is redirected at your eyes. Most glare you’ll experience is caused by the intense light of the sun, which is always situated above those flat surfaces, so most of the time the light will be reflected horizontally. Water, traffic, snow, highway surfaces—these everyday glare sources all reflect light horizontally. Polarized sunglasses, specifically the lenses, are treated with a laminate that blocks horizontal light waves while allowing vertical light waves to pass through. The laminate is applied in a vertical row pattern and works like window blinds to block horizontal light (a horizontal pattern blocks vertical light).
The best polarized glasses come with an evenly applied laminate that works with the contour of the lens. An easy way to tell whether your polarized lenses are the best quality is to tilt them 90 degrees (or tilt your head close to 90 degrees while wearing them). You should see an even change in light, as the lenses are now blocking vertical light waves. Poorly made polarized sunglasses won’t evenly transition, and you’ll notice darker-toned blotchy areas in the lens when they are turned 90 degrees.
The polarized sunglasses in this collection feature advanced polarized lens technology combined with 100% UV protection to keep your eyes safe while you’re in the harshest light conditions. Brands like Costa and Maui Jim stand at the leading edge of polarized lens design, and their sunglasses offer impressive performance in the most demanding field environments.
You may already know of a few situations in your life where you’d want to wear polarized sunglasses, but here are other common scenarios where polarized lenses are especially helpful:
Not inherently. Polarization by itself does not protect your eyes from harmful UV rays, but most quality glasses that feature polarized lenses, also come with protection against ultraviolet rays.
Essentially, there are two types of polarized lenses: 0.75 mm lenses and 1.1 mm lenses. The different thickness of the polarizing film used can affect the durability of the lenses, since it is placed on the outside of the glass and protected with a scratch-resistant coating. The thinner, 0.75 mm lenses are good for most casual sports where there's no risk of impact. The 1.1 mm layer provides additional strength that is useful in sports where impact may occur. The thicker film, however, does not make glasses of this type any better when it comes to reducing glare.
Polarized lenses can also come in almost any lens shape and contour. And among these types of polarized lenses, quality can vary greatly. But with a few easy steps, like the 90-degree test, you can identify the best polarized lenses.
Polarized sunglasses are almost always better than regular sunglasses because polarized lenses cut the glare that exists in almost all sunny conditions. If you’ve ever been “blinded” by the sun’s reflection off of water, snow, glass, or even the highway, you know how disruptive glare can be to your vision. Taking all the benefits of your favorite sunglasses and adding glare-cutting polarized lenses, clearly makes polarized sunglasses the better choice.
The easiest way to tell whether your sunglasses are polarized is to wear them on a sunny day, look at something that’s reflecting light (like water or glass), and tilt your head sideways with your ear as close to your shoulder as you can get. If the brightness of the reflection changes as you tilt your head, then you know your sunglasses are polarized.
Because they can cut glare and help you see better in harsh light conditions, polarized sunglasses are recommended for driving. If you spend a lot of time on the road, either in a daily commute or as a professional driver, polarized sunglasses aren’t only good, but they’re essential.
Generally, polarized sunglasses are not recommended for night driving, as the tint of the lenses (in any pair of sunglasses) can make it difficult to see anything but what is immediately in the field of your headlights. Even yellow-tinted glasses are not recommended for night driving, as they still reduce the amount of visible light.
Alone, polarized glasses do not block blue light. But lenses designed to block blue light can be polarized with an anti-glare coating that works in addition to the blue light-blocking technology.
Polarized glasses are as easy to clean and care for as ventional sunglasses. To protect your polarized glasses, keep them in a hard case when you’re not wearing them, avoid dropping them or leaving them where they could easily be damaged (like the passenger’s seat of your car), and consider using a glasses lanyard to keep them around your neck instead of stowing them in a pocket or hanging them from your collar.
To clean your polarized glasses, wipe the lenses with a microfiber cloth, which is designed not to scratch them. For a deeper clean, use a few drops of water or a spritz of cleaner made for sunglasses or eyeglasses, along with the microfiber cloth, to remove extra dirt, oil, and grime.
Consult our Guide for more tips on cleaning and disinfecting your lenses and frames.
Unfortunately, once a pair of sunglasses lenses have been scratched, whether polarized or not, you cannot remove the scratch at home. The entire lens would need to be resurfaced, which often costs more than simply replacing the lenses.
The most popular polarized sunglasses brands include Ray-Ban, Oakley, Costa, and Maui-Jim.
A quality pair of polarized sunglasses starts around $40. Premium polarized sunglasses are generally priced in the $100 to $300 range, with some going higher; add-ons and upgrades increase the cost.
The sun reflecting off of snow and water (like the ocean or rivers) causes glare. Since polarized glasses are designed to cut glare, they are perfect to wear on sunny days in the snow or on the water.
By cutting glare, polarized sunglasses both prevent your eyes from being “blinded” by the sun’s reflection off the water, and allow you to see past the water’s reflection to below the surface. When sight fishing, being able to see below the surface allows you to target fish to cast towards. That’s why polarized sunglasses are the preferred fishing sunglasses.
Both polarized and Prizm sunglasses provide improved vision on sunny days. Nor are they mutually exclusive technologies, as your sunglasses can have lenses that are both polarized, and feature Prizm technology. In short, polarized lenses cut glare while Prizm lenses enhance contrast and color saturation.
Yes, both mirror coatings and polarized coatings can be applied to the same lenses. Your best bet for finding a pair of mirrored and polarized sunglasses is to shop from a brand known for their polarized eyewear like Maui Jim or Costa.
No! Polarized glasses will not protect your eyes when you view the solar eclipse.NASA recommends wearing only specialized eclipse viewing glasses.
Wearing any pair of sunglasses, including polarized sunglasses, too often can be bad for your long-term vision. On the other hand, many people don’t wear sunglasses often enough. A good rule of thumb is to wear sunglasses outside only in the sun or partial sun. If you’re wearing sunglasses inside, at night, or on fully cloudy or rainy days, then you might be wearing them too often.