What's the Difference Between Polarized and Non-Polarized Lenses?

Polarized aviator sunglasses

With so many advanced lens technologies, it's easy to get confused. Here, we tackle some of the most common questions people have about polarized vs. non-polarized lenses.

What does it mean when lenses are polarized?

First, a little about sunlight and glare. Most sunlight that gets to our eyes is scattered because it reflects off uneven surfaces (asphalt, grass, trees, etc.). But when sunlight is reflected against a smooth, flat, shiny surface -- like the hood of a car or the surface of a calm body of water -- the light is reflected in one direction, causing distracting and potentially damaging glare.

All sunglasses are formulated to protect against UV rays and to minimize glare, but polarized lenses have been made with a special process to filter out this type of intense glare. This formulation acts almost like a blind or curtain, allowing only some light to pass through.

Are all sunglasses polarized?

No. While all sunglasses are designed to protect against UV protection, only some are equipped with the technology that makes them polarized. All polarized lenses are designated as such, so if it doesn't say polarized, it probably isn't.

Do all sunglasses provide the same UV protection?

No. The UV protection offered by any given pair of sunglasses depends largely on the brand; some are more effective than others. For example, all Eagle Eyes polarized sunglasses are made with TriLenium® technology and block blue light and 99.9% of UV radiation.

What are polarized sunglasses best used for?

Polarized lenses are excellent for driving, exercising outside and any outdoor activities involving water, such as fishing, sailing, and water-skiing.

Why do polarized lenses sometimes make everything appear darker?

In certain brands of sunglasses, the formula used to create polarized lenses can make things appear darker, but Eagle Eyes is specially formulated to enhance contrast and definition without darkening.

Are there certain things non-polarized lenses are better for than polarized lenses?

Yes. It is difficult to see LCD screens and LED lights when wearing polarized lenses, so pilots cannot wear polarized sunglasses, because they would hinder the pilot's ability to see the instruments and screens on the plane's instrument panel. In general, non-polarized lenses are better for any activity that requires substantial screen time. For example, Eagle Eyes non-polarized DigiTec™ lenses are designed specifically to block the blue light emitted from computer, phone, and TV screens. Long periods of exposure to blue light can lead to eye strain and fatigue.

Non-polarized lenses are also better for low light and nighttime conditions; they provide clarity and definition without darkening your vision. Eagle Eyes low light glasses and night driving glasses are both non-polarized lenses that enhance clarity and definition in low light or nighttime conditions while simultaneously helping to filter out glare from oncoming headlights or LED signage.