by Jamie Bartlett 7 min read

Polarised lenses.

Rumour has it, they’re something of a super-lens that make your sunglasses better than the average ones.

For the extra money, you’re promised some kind of extra functionality that supposedly gives you a superior pair of sunglasses.

Sounds like an up-sell.

To determine if you should invest in polarised sunglasses, we’ve explored the following comparisons between polarised and non-polarised sunglasses frames.

This way, you can decide for yourself... are polarised sunglasses worth it? 

 

Black polarised sunglasses and British passport sticking out a yellow travel purse upon a map

 

Are Polarised lenses worth the money?

Clearly, you’ve heard the news.

Polarised sunglasses are generally more expensive than non-polarised ones.

Notably, not every brand offers polarised sunglasses and not every brand offers both lens-options.

To make things easy for you, we’ve checked-out some popular sunglasses brands who do offer both options to see the price differences between their non-polarised and polarised alternatives.

*April 2019 prices in GBP and USD.

 

Brand

Frame model

Non-polarised lenses

Polarised lenses

Price difference

Oakley

Frogskin

£107 / $140

£147 / $192

£40 / $52

Banton Frameworks

Profile

£135 / $177

£135 / $177

£0 / $0

Ray-Ban

Wayfarer

£139 / $181

£184 / $240

£45 / $51

Persol

649

£159 / $208

£202 / $264

£43 / £56

Chanel

Pilot Sunglasses

£228 / $298

£345 / $451

£117 / $153

Tom Ford

Leo Square

£260 / $340

£298 / $390

£38 / $50

Moscot

Lemtosh

£265 / $347

£340 / $445

£75 / $98

 

 

 

 

 

Average

 

£184 / $241

£235 / $307

£59 / $78

 

Based on the data above, the price increase between polarised and non-polarised sunglasses is a market average of £59/$78

That’s 28% more if you want to get yourself some polarised lenses in the same or equivalent sunglasses model.

However, now's a good time to mention that our sunglasses are fitted with polarised sunglasses as standard for no extra cost. 

 

matte black polarised sunglasses

 

 

 

Armed with that comparison, you’re probably wondering what all the fuss is about for that extra cost.

Why are polarised sunglasses better?

In the section below, we've made you a basic comparison of polarised vs non polarised sunglasses. 

 

Blonde female wearing black sunglasses sitting in outdoor cafe holding a yellow coffee cup

 

What are the benefits of wearing polarised sunglasses?

Are polarised sunglasses worth it?

Investigating the other sunglasses brands, that extra 28% of cost needs some justification.

Before we get into the science of how these lenses differ from regular ones all, here's a quick summary of the pros and cons of polarised sunglasses.

 

Non polarised

  • Shows you visible contrast
  • Available in colour tints; green, blue, brown & grey.
  • Varying performance in varying lights
  • Doesn’t reduce glare
  • Your vision can be affected by reflections
  • Costs less than polarised lenses
  • Must be 99-100% UV protective

 

Polarised

  • Not as good at showing you visible contrast
  • Available in colour tints; green, blue, brown & grey.
  • Consistent performance in varying light
  • Reduces glare
  • Reduces visual fatigue over long periods of focus
  • Restricts light by approx 40%
  • 28% more expensive than regular sun lenses
  • Must be 99-100% UV protective

 

 

Struggle to find sunglasses that suit you?

PDF-guide-to-help-you-find-sunglasses-that-suit-you
Download this guide to find the perfect sunglasses for your face shape.

 

     

     

    Man and woman couple facing each other during a sunset

     

    Why is polarised better?

    Here comes the science...

    You see, polarised sunglasses do more than regular tinted sun lenses which is exactly why they cost more.

    Polarised sunglasses are still UV protective, but they can also block reflected sunlight, which is commonly referred to as glare.

    You’ll have experienced this on a bright sunny day walking near large areas of naturally occurring reflective surfaces.

    Lakes, shiny walkways or those frosty winter mornings where the sun is practically blinding you as you try and navigate your journey with your eyes half closed.

     

    Man beside beach rocks wearing hat and black sunglasses

     

    Glare happens when overhead sunlight reflects off these shiny surfaces, transitioning from being vertically orientated light to becoming horizontally orientated light.

    This is exactly where polarised sunglasses start to pay off as they filter-out this annoying and potentially hazardous glare from entering your eyes.

    Non polarised don’t have this function because they don’t contain a polariser-layer.

    Reflected light can enter through non polarised lenses which gives you contrasting areas of vision between direct and reflected sunlight. This inconsistency of performance is why they’re cheaper and often considered as an inferior type of lens.

     

    This is why polarised lenses are arguably a better investment than regular tinted sun lenses.

    For the extra 28% of cost, they get rid of glare to give you a consistent viewing experience in various light conditions.

     

    Side view of a man beside beach at sunset wearing polarised sunglasses looking at the sea

     

     



    "If you want that extra edge, polarised sunglasses are arguably worth it if you spend long periods out in the sun.

    Everyday tasks such as driving require you to focus for long periods of time.

    The reduction of glare is going to help to reduce visual fatigue, diminishing reflections and distractions."

    Lucy Ross, co-counder.

     

    But don’t panic.

    You haven’t been risking your eyes all this time just because your other sunglasses aren’t polarised.

    In fact, polarised lenses have nothing to do with eye-protection at all. This addition is simply a way of improving your visual experience by reducing reflected sun glare.

    Regardless if your sunglasses are polarised or not, your main concern is that they should be 99-100% protective to ultraviolet light.

    Without full UV protection, your eyes can be permanently damaged from the sun. Which is precisely why you need the certainty of a UVA and UVB protective lens.

    You’ll be glad to know all of our British made sunglasses are fitted with UVA, UVB protective polarised lenses as standard.

     

     

     

    Black sunglasses frame on wooden table under a palm tree

     

    Disadvantages of polarized sunglasses

    By now, you might think that polarised lenses can do no wrong.

    But compared to non-polarised lenses, their characteristics can pose certain disadvantages due to the way that they work.

     

    grey square polarised sunglasses

     

    Digital screens go black

    For example, certain occupations such as piloting strongly discourage the use of polarised sunglasses when operating aircraft.

    This is due to the way that polarised lenses interfere with the light that’s emitted from LCD screens as they can nearly entirely block their readings.

    Phones, TV’s, monitors and aircraft-dials can become completley blackened when looking through a polarised sun lens.

     

    polarised tortoise shell sunglasses

     

    Do sunglasses lose polarization?

    As you’ve learned, polarised sunglasses block horizontally reflected light to reduce glare.

    But, not all reflected light is horizontal. In fact, light waves can travel at millions of different angles as they become scattered or reflected from the earth’s atmosphere, land and sea.

    Subsequently, certain orientations of reflectd light can still penetrate the vertically aligned polariser within sunglasses lens.

    However, compared to regular lenses, polarised lenses will still provide far greater anti-glare performance to diminish glare.

    They don’t lose their polarisation, it’s just that they simply cannot block every single angle of reflected light.

     

    blue polarised sunglasses

     

    Reduced visual contrast

    You might not consider this to be a disadvantage but another side effect of polarised lenses is how they can reduce visible contrast.

    As sunlight is absorbed by rough surfaces and reflected by shiny ones, this makes it difficult to detect slippery surfaces such as oil spills or patches of ice.

    For obvious reasons, motorcyclists require as much visual connection with the road as possible. Similarly, skiers and snowboarders need to see oncoming undulations and terrain.

    Reduced contrast can be a hindrance or even hazardous if you require immediate detection of surface changeability.

    However, if you’re not into such high speed, high pressure activities such as flying or riding a motorbike, this reduction of contrast is predominantly beneficial.

    In fact, this is the whole point of polarised sunglasses as they give a far more consistent view, free from extreme high and low points of contrast.

    Silky smooth sight, free from glare.

     

    Man standing in a city park wearing a baseball cap and black sunglasses

     

    Conclusion: are polarised sunglasses worth it?

    For the extra money, your budget, lifestyle and frequency of wearing sunglasses are largely going to determine your decision.

    In summer, if you spend a lot of time near or around water, you’ll certainly benefit from a pair of good quality polarised sunglasses.

     

    Aerial view of tropical beach with blue water white sand and palm trees

     

    Near the pool or out on the beach, polarised lenses can let you focus on reading your new novel, keep an eye on your family members or to read that café menu… the list goes on.

    Putting this into context, research by travel agency sunshineholiday.co.uk suggests that the average UK adult spends up to 70 hours in direct sunlight over the duration of a 10 day holiday.

    That’s a decent whack of UV right there if you partake in the odd summer holiday here or there.

    At the other end of the year, low-level winter sun and reflected glare from ground-frost can be filtered-out by polarised lenses.

    You need to consider, how often and for how long do you wear your sunglasses?

     

    Women with her head outside of a car passenger window wearing sunglasses

     

    Driving for long periods of time, you’re eyes go through a serious amount of work.

    Apparently, according to the Telegraph, the average Briton spends three years of their life behind the wheel.

    Long term exposure to bonnet and road-glare can lead to visual fatigue as you strain to focus on the road. By wearing sunglasses with polarised lenses, you can minimise the amount of strain that's placed on your eyes when you're behind the wheel.

    Upgrading to polarised lenses can prolong your visual focus and can make your driving experience that bit more comfortable on those sunny journeys.

    For more information, you can check out my other article about the best polarised sunglasses for driving.

     

    But enough with the stats and figures.

    It’s up to you to decide if your sunglasses play a large enough role in your life, at any time of the year.

    Even in the UK where our fair isles are seldom sun-kissed, summer or winter exposure still gives you good reason to consider polarised sunglasses.

    To summarise, here’s the facts.

     

    Polarised sunglasses...

    • Cost an average 28% more
    • Block horizontally orientated light (glare)
    • Give consistent performance in various light conditions
    • Reduces light by approximately 40%
    • Must be 99-100% UV protective

     

     

    Black polarised sunglasses on top of newspaper and map

     

     

     

    Jamie Bartlett
    Jamie Bartlett

    Co-founder of Banton Frameworks.



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