Sunglasses make the perfect travel accessory – they look cool with your ensemble, and provide much needed protection for your eyes against the sun. But even amongst sunglasses, there are different types, and not all function the same way.
You’ve probably heard of the ‘polarized’ sunglasses. What are they, and how do they differ from regular, non-polarized sunglasses? We find out:
What are the key advantages of Polarized Sunglasses?
When travelling outdoors, having to deal with harsh glare can be a real buzzkill.
Glare happens when light is reflected against flat surfaces such as water, snow or pavement in a horizontal direction. When this intense reflected light enters our eyes, it distorts our vision and affects our color and depth perception.
While regular sunglasses are effective at reducing brightness, they do nothing for glare.
The best polarized sunglasses, on the other hand, have a chemical film which coats the lenses and acts as a filter, so only vertical light rays can go through. This allows the wearer to see their environments clearly.
Glare causes eyestrain. Just by cutting that out, polarized sunglasses can offer better visual comfort and clarity.
They are especially useful for anglers, boaters and fishermen, who need to see into the water to detect fish, undercurrents or obstacles. Other applications for polarized sunglasses include outdoor sports, such as water-skiing, golfing, jogging and cycling. They also allow for colors to be reflected more accurately.
For drivers going on road trips in the summer, polarized sunglasses reduce glare from the vehicle’s hood or smooth road surfaces. People who are sensitive to light, such as recovering eye surgery patients, can also benefit from them.
Don’t throw away your regular sunnies just yet!
For all the advantages that they offer, the best polarized sunglasses have their drawbacks. The most obvious one is that you won’t be able to view LCD and LED displays, such as that on smartphone screens, laptops and car displays. Those navigating with GPS devices will have to lift the sunglasses up to see what’s on screen – which can be dangerous especially when their attention is not on the road.
Polarized sunglasses tend to be more expensive than regular ones, so get them only if you’re planning to use them for activities where glare can affect your experience.
Now that we’re clear on the function as well as pros and cons of polarized sunglasses, here are some other features to look out for:
The most important part of your sunglasses is the lens. Without them, your sunnies are just a pair of frames. Some common lens types are glass, plastic and polycarbonate – and they each have their own pros and cons. Glass, for example, is very scratch resistant and offers the clearest optical clarity.
However, it can be heavy and dangerous when shattered. Plastic lenses are lightweight and cheap. Meanwhile, polycarbonate lenses are shatter proof, very strong and thin, but are susceptible to scratches.
While the myth goes that the darker the lenses, the better the protection, that is not always the case. In fact, regular, dark sunglasses without UV protection can actually be more harmful, as the pupils will dilate under dark conditions to let more light in, thus exposing the inner eye to more UV rays.
Nearly all polarized sunglasses come with UV protection; but to be on the safe side, always buy from reputable sources and remember to check labels for that ‘certified’ stamp.
Style and Wear
Most people wear sunglasses for style as much as function. A good pair should be able to fulfil both criteria. Take into account your face shape, and whether a large or a small size would be most suitable. As you’ll be wearing them for long periods of time, they should be comfortable. You don’t want to be constantly pushing them back up your nose bridge.
Another important thing to look at is usage. If you’re playing in high impact sports, consider getting thicker lenses and sturdier frames, such as hard metal.
Tints and Gradients
You’ve probably come across polarized lenses with color gradients or tints, such as green, yellow or blue. These usually tint from top to bottom, so that the top part is darker than the bottom. They’re not just for looks, as tints can provide extra protection from overhead sunlight when driving, while still allowing for enough to filter through the bottom so that you can see where you’re going. Different tint colors are suitable for different environments. Yellows are good for foggy or low light conditions, while browns are suitable for sunny weather.
The best polarized sunglasses for women – Complete Chart 2018
Who hasn’t heard of Ray Ban? The brand is almost synonymous with sunglasses, and their Wayfarer range offers a timeless yet stylish look.
The combinations for form and function are endless. They come in a wide variety of designs, as well as options for regular or polarized lenses with tints and gradients.
For example, users can ‘customize’ their pair and go for a tortoise frame with green polarized lenses, or a matte black frame with black polarized lenses. Green and black tints are best for most weather conditions, such as sunny, cloudy, foggy or low light. For those planning to use them in snowy environments, blue and red tints are also available.
Users can opt for the B-15 XLT and G-15XLT lenses. Originally developed for the US Airforce, they provide complete protection against harmful UV rays. Made from an optical quality glass, they are scratch and impact resistant for long lasting wear.
The number 15 denotes the amount of light being let through by the lens, which is 15%.
B-15 provides more contrast by reducing blue light, while G-15 produces softer, more natural-looking vision. The lenses also have anti-reflective features.
The Wayfarer’s frame is made from a lightweight but sturdy nylon, making them suitable for both sports and everyday use. The frame has a square shape with a rounded bottom, so they are best suited to oval or round-shaped faces. They are available in two sizes: (50-52mm) and large (54mm-55mm). Some users have found the fit to be too small, but they fit most average-sized faces.
Each set comes with a Ray-Ban pouch and lens cloth for cleaning.
When it comes to style and fashion, the Michael Kors brand is known for their jetsetter attitude, classic elegance and sleek designs. Their Chelsea series is no exception. The embodiment of power and grace, it is perfect for the modern woman.
The sunglasses come with polarized lenses for certain colors, such as brown and gold.For extra protection in sunny conditions, wearers can also opt for a mirror coating which has reflective properties and reduces the intensity of light.
Another add-on for the lenses is gradient tints, which is darker at the top and lighter at the bottom. Not only are they fashionable, they work by filtering enough light so that wearers can read outside and wear the sunnies indoors without losing visual clarity.
The lenses can be mixed and matched with different frames, from gold to dark chocolate and silver.
Style aside, wearers can be rest assured of complete protection against harmful UV rays, as these sunniesare 100% UV protection certified.
The plastic lenses fit snugly within a metal frame made from Monel, which is a mix of copper and nickel. This material makes the frame lightweight but sturdy enough to retain its shape even when dropped or impacted.
The Chelsea is suitable for long hours of wear, thanks to several features. The nose pads on the double bridge are adjustable to fit different nose shapes and sizes, so you’ll never have to worry about your sunglasses slipping down. Meanwhile, the rubber coated temple ends are soft and comfy on the ears.
Its aviator shaped lenses might come across as a masculine design, but actually complements female faces as well, especially heart, oval and square shapes.
The set comes with a carrying case and cleaning cloth. The only drawback is that they only come in one size, and may not fit smaller or bigger faces.
To quote Lou Bega in his hit song Mambo No.5, we all need a ‘little bit of Erika by my side’. Another RayBan classic, the Erika Women’s Best Polarized Sunglasses do double duty by protecting the eyes from harsh glare and intense sunlight; whilst being a good accessory to show off during the summer. The UV protection coating provides complete protection against harmful UV rays.
Choose from polar purple polarized, polar green polarized and polar brown gradient lenses; all made from tough plastic. Then customize them to your style with black, black and green, and Havana tortoise-shell frames. These are also made from plastic, making them lightweight and scratch resistant. Shipping at just 2.9 ounces, users have commented that these are one of the lightest pairs of sunglasses around, so they can be suitable for activities such as jogging or outdoor sports.
Measuring 54mm, the Erika fits most average-sized faces. The temples are made from matte gunmetal while the tips are dark sand rubber for comfort and a firm grip. Their large, round shape provides extra coverage, while a soft, flexible bridge flatters most face shapes. They are best suited to oval, heart, and square-shaped faces for a modern and chic look.
However, a heads up to those who have higher cheeks, as the oversized style means that the bottom edge tends to rest on the face.
For those wondering about authenticity, check for a Ray-Ban P logo etched on the left side of the lens, as well as ‘RB’ lettering on the right arm. The set should also in a protective casing with a Ray Ban stamp and cleaning cloth. They are manufactured in USA, China or Italy.
The Erika’s lenses are prescription ready.
If you don’t mind having a huge pair of shades, then go for the J+ S. These practical sunglasses have multi-layered polarized lenses, designed to reduce glare by up to 99.96%.
They work by blocking out horizontal reflection, allowing only light from vertical planes to pass through. This gives the wearer high optical clarity, better visibility and distortion free vision. Good news for those of us who spend a lot of time outdoors, as our eyes often feel fatigued after a long day squinting in the sun.The lenses are also scratch resistant.
When it comes to minimizing sun damage on the eyes, the J+S offers comprehensive protection, with a 400UV rating that blocks out 99% to 100% of harmful UV rays.
The lenses sit in a lightweight yet durable frame made from high quality metallic alloy; so they can hold up to rough handling and impact. They are suitable for outdoor sports, water activities such as fishing and boating, hiking, and general wear. The polarized lenses are also a good feature for those with sensitive eyes, such as post cataract surgery patients.
The sunglasses come with hinged legs that are spring loaded for better flexibility, while adjustable silicone nose pads ensure that no slippage occurs.
With an overall width of 152mm, the J+S generally fits well on average large-sized men, while being slightly oversized on an average woman. The design is unisex.
One minor drawback with is that they only come in black lenses and do not have the option for gradient tints. Frame color options include silver and black.
Each set comes with a protective hard casing and microfiber cloth for cleaning.
Look like a celebrity and protect your eyes from the sun at the same time, with the Duco Women’s Shades. One of the more affordable options on this list, this classy pair of sunnies offers function and quality without burning a hole in your pocket.
TAC best polarized sunglasses lenses effectively cut down on glare, while UV400 protection blocks harmful UV rays by up to 400 nanometers. At the same time, they provide great clarity, crisp vision, better contrast and vivid colors.
The lenses are scratch resistant and built for impact, being 50 times tougher than optical glass. They are also tested to comply with US FD dropball tests, and can take a hit with a hammer without breaking.
The frame is equally tough. Made from high quality polycarbonate, they are long lasting and comfortable on the face and ears. As they are lightweight and able to take a beating, the glasses can be worn for outdoor activities, but still look good enough for casual wear.
Inspired by retro fashion and the classic Hollywood era, the oversized frames flatter most face shapes. They come in a variety of colors such as black, champagne, wine red and brown, which compliments different skin tones.
However, wearers need to be wary of the metal joints, as they have big enough gaps for hair to get caught in.
Each set comes with a hard case, soft cleaning cloth, mini screwdriver for adjustments, as well as a polarized lens testing card. Also included is a fabric sunglass pouch with attached carabiner to easily hook up to bags or luggage.
There is a lifetime warranty on the lenses and frames, which makes these shades good value for money.
The Best Polarized Sunglasses for Men – Complete Chart 2016
These were the sunglasses that started it all. Initially designed for pilots in the US military, the Ray-Ban Aviator series has become synonymous with style and is the epitome of cool for people who call themselves fans of sunglasses.
Combining timeless fashion with top notch performance and quality, these shades are available in four sizes to suit different faces; starting from the smaller 47.5mm to 55m, and 58mm right up to 62mm. It is important to get a size that fits; you don’t want your face to be completely obscured by shades. They are best suited to heart, oval and square-shaped faces.
There are loads of colors and designs to choose from, but for polarized protection, we recommend the Arista Gold Frame. The crystal lenses are laminated with vertical stripes on the surface, so that only vertically-reflected light filters through. The shades are perfect for boaters and fishermen looking into bodies of water to spot fish, or for drivers on long distance road trip hoping to reduce glare reflected from smooth road surfaces.
They also provide much needed protection against UV rays, thanks to a layer of coating on the lens. As with all polarized lenses, LCD displays tend to become distorted – but in normal conditions, the glasses provide unparalleled visual clarity, natural colors and clear vision.
A hard, durable metal frame holds everything together. The arms can be tweaked for a better fit over the ears, but wearers should always consult an optometrist or eyewear professional before making adjustments.
The top left lens is etched with the signature RayBan wording. Each set comes with a carrying case and cleaning cloth. Items are manufactured in Italy, China or the USA.
When it comes to eye protection, the Polaroid brand has a long history of making the best polarized sunglasses and polarized lenses; dating as far back as 1937. Manufactured with a press-polishing method, the lenses are thicker in the middle and tapered at the edges for more curvature.
The X4410’s stylish aviator look is great for the modern, metrosexual man who is not above needing eye protection.
Polarized, polycarbonate lenses are designed to minimize glare and reduce the intensity of strong sunlight, so they are perfect for outdoor activities and driving. A layer of protective coating blocks harmful UV rays by 100%, preventing damage to the inner eye. The metal frame also holds up well against abuse.The material makes it slightly heavier than plastic models, at just over 7 ounces.
As they are designed for men, the size is huge at 65mm. However, women can also wear them as a pair of oversized sunnies. Despite the large width, users have commented that they hinge well on smaller faces and look balanced overall.
The gold and white frame complements the brown lenses, and looks good with caramel skin tones. Robust hinges ensure long lasting wear, even when the arms are opened and closed dozens of times a day. Meanwhile, durable nose pads sit comfortably on the nose with a firm grip to avoid slippage.
One good feature of the X4410 is that the lenses are prescription ready. A carrying case and cloth is included. The verdict? If you’re looking for a tough but practical and stylish piece, then the X4410s delivers at an affordable price.
The Maui Jim Peahi gets points for looks alone. Squarish and gently rounded at the bottom, the sunglasses have wide sides that taper down to sleek tips. Trendy and sophisticated, they would not look out of place in the city or on the beaches of Hawaii, where the brand first started off.
Most suitable for driving and general outdoor use, the polarized lenses are prescription ready and feature Polarized Plus 2 technology, designed to eliminate glare from different sources, such as direct, reflective or bounced back glare. The color-infused lens tech also allows for greater optical clarity and natural, vivid colors. They also offer complete UV protection against harmful UVA and UVB rays.
What sets the Peahiapart from its peers is the lens material. Made from SuperThin glass, it is 20% thinner than regular laminated glass. As this makes it prone to scratches, the lenses are coated in a clearshell, scratch-resistant coating.
Wearers love the wrap-around style as it blocks out sunlight well for added protection.
The frame is made from grimalid, a hypoallergenic thermoplastic which is lightweight and flexible, known for its bending strength and ability to retain its shape.
For added comfort, the sunnies feature rubber temple tips that sit snugly over the ears. Meanwhile, the bridge has a fixed saddle style design with soft, silicone nose pads that provide a firm grip.
At 65mm, the Peahionly comes in one size and are suitable for larger faces. For the ladies, they can still be worn in an oversized style. Going back to its beach roots, both the lenses and frames have been treated to be saltwater resistant.
Due to the glass lenses, the Peahi can be heavier and leave slight indentations on the nose when work for long hours. They are also pricey. Otherwise, they offer great quality and loads of protection.
Each set comes with a cleaning cloth and carrying case.
The Oakley Half Jacket 2.0 is a good choice when it comes to getting a no-nonsense, high performance pair of sunglasses. An improved version of its predecessor, the 2.0 is designed for sport enthusiasts and athletes.
The lenses are prescription ready and polarized to eliminate glare, which can be crucial for sportsmen in competitions such as cycling or running. High Definition Optics made from pure Plutonite help to produce clear, distortion-free images, whilst allowing for sharp and accurate vision right up to the peripheral edges.
The lenses also provide UV protection of up to 400 nanometres, keeping the eyes safe from harmful UV rays. A smooth, base lens curvature offers added protection against the elements and impact.
The 2.0 has an interchangeable lens feature, so wearers can swap them out to suit changing light conditions. This is done with a semi-rimless design, with a half-rim at the top and an open bottom. The frame is made from a lightweight composite O Matter, which is extremely tough and able to take a beating.
While working out or competing, chances are you’ll be drenched in sweat. Regular sunnies will slip out of place, but the 2.0 has a comfortable non-slip grip, thanks to itsunobtanium components. Unlike regular sunglasses which hook over the ears, the 2.0 features a curved, three-point fit which keeps the lenses in precise alignment with your eyes.
At 58mm, the 2.0 is best suited for larger faces. Available in Polished Black Frame with black iridium polarized Lensplastic.
Bringing together the best of two worlds, Kaenon sunglasses are designed with Californian creativity but manufactured to Italian standards. You’ll be hard-pressed to find such craftsmanship, including hand-painted treatments, as well as unique color palettes that are trendy and hip.
The Clark series features a lightweight but durable plastic frame, with an ergonomic shape inspired by the Wayfarer. Apart from providing UV protection, the patented SR-91 lenses are polarized to minimize glare, letting in only 12% of light for reduced brightness and higher optical clarity. They are prescription-ready and can be used for many activities, such as fishing, golfing, hiking and driving. Reviewers complemented the lenses’ high quality, praising them for their clear, distortion-free vision and natural colors.
Design-wise, the square frames go well with round and oval shapes. At 56mm, they fit better on large faces. They can still work on smaller faces though: the rubbery Variflex nose pads can help keep the sunnies in place, as the pads have a firm grip and will not slide from sweat or water.
Soft and comfortable, they can be worn for hours on end without leaving any indentation. The same can’t be said of the Clark’s ear tips, as they lack rubber grips.
The frames are available in several colors, such as tortoise, black label, gold coast and grey, with matching lenses of black or brown. A carrying case and wiping cloth is included.