Polarized Vs. Non Polarized Sunglasses: Which One Should You Choose?

This article was updated on July 17, 2023.

Sunglasses are more than just a fashion statement. They can also be a vital part of your eye health by providing protection against harmful UV rays and even correcting your vision. But with so many different types of sunglasses on the market, it can be hard to know which ones are right for you. That’s where we come in! In this post, we’ll explore the differences between polarized, non-polarized, and tinted sunglasses to help you choose the right ones for your needs.

Up close image of man with polarized sunglasses.

What are polarized sunglasses?

Polarized sunglasses are designed to reduce glare caused by horizontal light waves bouncing off reflective surfaces such as water, snow, sand, and roads. They have a built-in vertical polarizing filter that blocks these horizontally oriented light waves, allowing only vertically oriented light to pass through. Polarized sunglasses provide better clarity and contrast in bright outdoor conditions, offer UV protection, and are also helpful for reducing eye strain.

polarized vs non polarized sunglasses

The difference between polarized vs. non polarized sunglasses

The main difference between polarized vs non-polarized sunglasses is that polarized sunglasses have a special coating that filters out horizontally polarized light. Non-polarized sunglasses do not have this coating, so they only darken the lenses and do not reduce glare.

Whether you’re driving, skiing, or just enjoying a day at the beach, polarized sunglasses can make a big difference in your comfort and visibility. So if you’re looking for a pair of sunglasses that will help you see your best, polarized is the way to go!

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What about tinted sunglasses? How are they different from polarized?

Tinted sunglasses are simply lenses that have been dyed to a certain color. The color of the tint is a matter of personal preference and can affect the way you see colors. Tinted lenses can provide some degree of glare reduction, but not to the same extent as polarized lenses.

What color tint is best for prescription glasses?

A darker-colored sunglass tint is usually recommended for outdoor use. When it comes to aviator sunglasses for example, the top three popular tints are dark grey, dark green, and dark amber. However, there are plenty of other tints available for prescription and non-prescription sunglasses. At Zenni, we offer several different types of tinted lenses:

  • Standard tints: lenses with an evenly applied color coating. These are great for everyday wear and are used for general outdoor activities.
  • Gradient tints: lenses that transition from a darker shade at the top to a lighter shade on the bottom, like an ombré effect. They protect your eyes from overhead sunlight while also providing clear visibility for activities such as driving.
  • Fashion tints: tinted lenses that come in a wide range of colors and contribute to fashionable and trendy looks. Some popular fashion tints include blue tinted glasses, yellow tinted glasses, and more.
  • Mirror tints: lenses that have a reflective coating on the outside that gives them a mirror-like appearance. These offer additional protection against intense light, glare and brightness, and are popular for outdoor activities and sports.

The choice between polarized and tinted lenses depends on your specific needs, activities, and preferences. If glare reduction is a top priority for you, polarized lenses are the way to go. If you prefer general light protection and care about the aesthetics of the lens, tinted lenses might be more suitable for you.


  1. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/glasses-contacts/polarized-lenses
  2. https://www.faa.gov/pilots/safety/pilotsafetybrochures/media/sunglasses.pdf

About the Author: Dr. Mori Ahi, O.D.

Dr. Mori has over 10 years of experience in eye care. She earned her undergraduate degree from UCLA and her optometry degree from the New England College of Optometry. She has worked in a variety of eye care settings and is passionate about helping her patients find a great pair of affordable glasses

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