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The best polarized sunglasses are a game changer. Anyone who owns a pair of polarized sunglasses knows how comfortable they are on your eyes, especially when you’re near water, behind the wheel, or in any other high-glare situation. If your current sunglasses don’t cut them (or if your last pair was left in an Uber), we suggest switching to polarized lenses. Here’s all you need to know.
How do polarized sunglasses work?
Most of us have heard of or seen polarized sunglasses, but they actually have real science behind their effectiveness (in other words, they’re not a brand name gimmick).
Without getting too technical, here’s how polarized lenses work: They are chemically treated to absorb horizontally reflected light while only letting through vertically reflected light. This horizontal light is more present in glare (think bodies of water, the road, or snow) than direct sunlight – and it turns out to be harsher than direct sunlight. Polarized sunglasses reduce that glare and strain while helping to improve your vision and eye comfort during activities like days at the beach and road trips.
Normal sunglasses, on the other hand, let in reflected light both horizontally and vertically. They simply reduce the brightness of both types of light with a dark tint. Polarized lenses also have this tint, as well as their special treatment to block glare.
The real takeaway is this: Polarized lenses can help make outdoor activities more comfortable, and they dramatically increase visibility for activities like fishing or watching the waves.
Polarized Sunglasses Buying Guide
Not all polarized sunglasses are created equal. Some also have UVA / UVB sun protection (which is not the same as polarization), and they come in the same range of styles as regular sunglasses. To help you find the best polarized sunglasses, we’ve created the buying guide below and rounded up some of our favorite picks.
Cut: You will see that some sunglasses frame sizes are listed as three digits, such as â50â22â150â, for example. These measurements in millimeters refer respectively to the lens, the bridge and the width of the arms. The lens width is probably the most important. Lens widths less than 50 millimeters are generally considered small, 51 to 55 millimeters are medium, and more than 55 millimeters start to get large.
Style: The best polarized sunglasses are stylistically versatile to wear at the beach, at a wedding, and in any other light environment. Also, if you plan to wear your sunglasses for exercise and sports outdoors, go for something more athletic.
UVA / UVB protection: As mentioned, polarization does not mean complete UV protection. UVA or UVB protection means the shades will block harmful UV rays, protecting the eyes from sun damage.
Prescription: Some sunglasses come with the option of corrective lenses. If you are nearsighted, this is a big plus. Upgrade to Ray-Ban Wayfarers or Warby Parker Haskells below for prescription options.
What are the best polarized sunglasses?
From Ray-Ban to Warby Parker, here are the best shades worth buying right now.
1. Ray-Ban 4340 Wayfarer
Over 70 years after their release, you still can’t go wrong with the Ray-Ban Wayfarers. The unique shape falls somewhere between the round and the rectangular, which makes the sunglasses flattering on almost any face shape. The classic style of the Wayfarer also makes them easy to wear just about anywhere, whether it’s in the yard or in the office after your commute. This pair comes with green tinted polarized lenses which can also be fitted with your prescription via GlassesUSA.com.
2. Persol Steve McQueen
Persol, an Italian luxury brand, is one of the oldest eyewear companies in the world. The brand has been a favorite with stylish celebrities, most notably the King of Cool, Steve McQueen. These tribute sunglasses feature a Terra di Siena tortoiseshell frame and blue polarized lenses that certainly do justice to McQueen’s timeless style. Persol’s styling also strikes a good balance between dressy and casual, allowing you to wear them with swim shorts or a full body suit.
3. Warby Parker Haskell
Classic sunglasses are great, but if you’re looking for something more modern, check out these Warby Parker Haskells. With a hand polished cellulose acetate frame, the glasses are comfortable and versatile. But the lenses are where the Haskells really shine, with polarization, 100% UV protection and scratch resistance. Additionally, they can be upgraded with corrective lenses through the Warby Parker’s website.
4. Oakley Holbrook polarized
Polarized sports sunglasses are a great choice for outdoor exercise, fishing, hiking, and water sports like stand-up paddleboarding. We love these Oakley Holbrooks because they offer everything you expect from sporty sunglasses as well as versatile styling that can be worn with everyday attire.
A Grilamid polycarbonate frame and Plutonite lenses make the Holbrooks extremely durable. With 100% lens polarization and UV protection, your eyes will be protected when you focus on your game, exercising, or just relaxing by the pool. Add two size options and a range of colors and you have plenty of choices for fit and style.
5. Ray-Ban Aviator polarized sunglasses
Like the Wayfarers, Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses refuse to go out of style. This pair improves on the iconic metal frame with polarized lenses for less glare and better visibility. They’re pretty wide with a 62-millimeter lens width, but they still work on a surprising range of face sizes. The nose pads are adjustable for a better fit, and the large lenses make the goggles ideal for full coverage while relaxing or riding.
6. Carrera polarized aviator sunglasses
The retro Carrerra sunglasses are another classic pair of aviators. The frame is a bit more square, making it a good choice for anyone with a slightly rounder face. With polarized lenses and 100% UV protection, they are designed to protect against harmful sunlight and glare. Their real appeal, however, is probably the on-trend ’80s-inspired style. The frames are slightly oversized with a tortoise-shell polyamide construction.
7. Vintage Oliver Peoples Finley sunglasses
For an enhanced choice, check out these Finley sunglasses from Oliver Peoples. Designed and manufactured in Los Angeles, the brand’s sunglasses offer premium quality and a look that’s both relaxed and sophisticated. These Finleys feature a tortoiseshell acetate frame that houses polarized brown lenses. Size might be considered average but may be best on slightly smaller round or oval faces.