Polarised and non-polarised sunglasses,

so what’s the difference?

Have you ever worn sunglasses only to find yourself still squinting? This is because sunglasses are designed to reduce brightness not glare. Sunglasses work by blocking the UV rays from the sun. To fully protect your eyes, sunglasses should have both a high-level UVA and UVB protection. When choosing a pair of sunglasses you’re often advised to choose a pair with 100% UV protection. You might also need to choose between polarised and non-polarised sunglasses. So what are the benefits and features of polarised sunglasses?

While protecting your eyes from UVA and UVB light, polarised sunglasses also contains a layer within the lens mixture called a polariser. This layer blocks nearly all reflected glare from shiny horizontal surfaces such wet roads, water and snow slopes. Polarised lenses can cost more than non-polarised sunglasses, but they provide much better visual clarity, free from glare. This sounds good right? But it’d be good to go into more detail to help you decide if they really are worth the extra comfort and clarity and money.

Why is polarised better?

Ok, here comes the science bit…  Polarised lenses can block-out glare, but how exactly does this filtration work? Polarised sunglasses will protect your eyes from UV light, but their secondary benefit is that they filter out horizontally orientated light, commonly known as glare. You’ll have experienced this on a bright sunny day walking near large areas of naturally occurring reflective surfaces such as lakes, wet roads or footpaths. Another example is when you are driving on a wet morning and the sun is shining on the wet road surface causing a blinding glare to reflect off the road.  Glare happens when sunlight reflects off these shiny surfaces, becoming reoriented and condensed into horizontally aligned light causing you to squint or shield your eyes.

This is exactly why polarised sunglasses are so beneficial because they filter-out this annoying and potentially hazardous glare from passing through your sunglass lens and entering your eye. Non-polarized sunglasses don’t have this function.


Reasons to wear sunglasses

Deciding on polarised sunglasses will largely depend on your lifestyle and frequency of wearing sunglasses:


Many people notice the biggest difference between the polarised and non-polarised sunglasses when they are outdoors. The special polarising layer is highly anti-reflective thereby reducing reflections and haze.  They are particularly helpful if you enjoy outdoor activities such sailing, playing golf or just sitting by the water as the clarity of the lens allow you to see further into the distance while improving your depth perception. The same applies if you enjoy skiing. Their anti-glare properties are also great for scenic viewing or if you’re out for a walk.


Polarized sunglasses can be a lifesaver during sunny daytime driving, especially when the sunlight hits at just an angle to interfere with your vision. Polarised lenses filters the sunlight that reflects off roads providing a safer and more comfortable driving experience.

Are polarised sunglasses worth it?

Your budget, lifestyle and frequency of wearing sunglasses as well as your level of endurance for squinting will largely determine your decision. In summer, if you spend a lot of time near or around water or outdoors, you’ll certainly benefit from a pair of good quality polarised sunglasses. In winter, low-level sun can bounce off ground frost or wet roads causing more of that annoyingly bright glare. If you’d prefer to have a reliably consistent view through your sunglasses, all year round, polarised sunglasses are a good way to go.

Fortunately there are plenty of brands on the market if you are looking to buy a pair of polarised sunglasses but it can be difficult to know which work best especially if you are simply trying on a pair indoors. From experience, we recommend Maui Jim as one of the leaders in the polarised sunglasses market. They have all of the obvious benefits such as clarity and comfort but also have a ‘colour enhancing filter’ embedded into the lens which really improves colour definition. The clarity of vision through a Maui Jim polarized lens is in our opinion the best in the market. If you would like to browse our collection call in store anytime.