If you’ve ever been bothered by glare reflecting off surfaces on a sunny day, you might benefit from a pair of polarised sunglasses. You can add polarising lenses to most of our sunglasses styles, so it’s often just a question of choosing which pair you like the most.
Polarised sunglasses vs non-polarised sunglasses
Let’s answer this question first: what are polarised sunglasses? Put simply, polarised sunglasses are designed to reduce glare from light-reflecting surfaces like water, glass or snow – as well as protect your eyes from harmful UV rays.
Standard sunglasses will protect your eyes from bright light, and in most cases, offer UV protection — but they aren’t always able to reduce glare. Polarised sunglasses can look exactly the same as standard sunglasses, but their lenses feature a polarising film which changes the way light reaches your eyes.
There is a subtle way to tell the difference between standard sunglasses and polarised ones. Hold the sunglasses in front of a reflective surface, and look through one of the lenses. Then, slowly rotate the sunglasses 90 degrees to the right or left. If the glare reduces, the sunglasses are polarised.
What are the benefits of polarised sunglasses?
First, we need to understand a little bit more about how light works. Light reaches your eyes in vibrating waves that move in all directions. When the vibrations from light waves become aligned in one or more direction, the light becomes polarised and matches the angle of the surface. For example, when you look at the surface of a lake in bright sunshine, you might notice a reflective glare. This is polarised light.
Polarised sunglasses have a special film embedded into the lens that helps to increase comfort and clarity of vision. The film works by acting as a shutter to block out light reflected from horizontal surfaces. The polarising filter only allows light that is vertically polarised to pass through the lenses and blocks any horizontally polarised light. That’s how polarised lenses reduce glare.
They’re especially useful for people with certain eye conditions that make them more sensitive to light, such as cataracts, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and uveitis (a type of eye inflammation). They’re also helpful for protecting the eyes after surgery that may cause more sensitivity to light, such as cataract removal or laser correction.
Polarised sports sunglasses
Polarised sunglasses can help to enhance sports performance by helping athletes to see clearly and react quickly when they need to. They’re often used for snowboarding, skiing, watersports, cycling, shooting, archery, fishing and even hiking. The style of polarised sports sunglasses is slightly different from polarised fashion sunglasses and typically have a wrap-around frame to protect the eyes from foreign objects and injury during sport.
Polarised sunglasses for driving
Glare is often cited as being a leading cause of motoring accidents.1 Polarised sunglasses can significantly help to reduce the dazzling glare from vehicle headlights and light reflecting off wet road surfaces – improving visual comfort when driving.
Is it okay to wear polarised sunglasses all the time?
There are some situations where it’s not a good idea to wear polarised sunglasses. It’s difficult to see LCD screens clearly through polarised lenses, so people who rely on LCD screens for high-risk or critical work (like pilots or machine operators) should avoid wearing them.
What are polarised clip-on sunglasses?
Clip-on sunglasses are helpful if you want to use your normal glasses as sunglasses, rather than buying a separate pair of prescription sunglasses. You’ll need to choose a frame that supports clip-on polarised lenses, like these Islington frames. Your prescription lenses can be fitted into the normal glasses so that they sit behind the polarised clip-on sunglasses.
Women’s polarised sunglasses inspiration
It’s possible to add polarising lenses to any pair of sunglasses — so all you need to do is find a frame style that suits you. As a rule of thumb, try to avoid frames that are wider than your face and you won’t go wrong.
These Cath Kidston sunglasses have a bold, vintage vibe with their polka dot pattern. Turn the retro look up a notch and pair them with an Audrey Hepburn-style headscarf on a breezy, summer’s day.
For a more bohemian style, check out this Marc Jacobs style with gold frames and rose-tinted lenses. Pair with faded denim cut-off shorts or a long flowing skirt, a straw hat and layers of jewellery to get the full boho look.
If you’re looking for something a little daintier, you could try the new Kylie Minogue Confide In Me sunglasses. The acetate frame gives the classic shape of these frames a nice modern update.
Men’s polarised sunglasses inspiration
Finding the right pair for you
You can add polarising lenses to nearly all of our sunglasses, even when you buy online, so you’re bound to find the perfect pair to suit your style and personality. With our virtual try-on tool, you can try on your glasses online, so you can get a feel for how they might look on you. Then if they’re the ones for you, you can order them online. For more advice choosing the right glasses, visit our buyer’s guide.