by Jamie Bartlett May 13, 2019 5 min read

Don’t know if you’ve heard…

    But polarised sunglasses already have anti-glare properties.

    Don’t feel silly you’ve asked because you’re probably unsure how polarised lenses actually work if the first place.

    And you’re not alone.

    Frankly, polarised sun lenses are very ‘under the radar’ when it comes to public knowledge. Which is why this handy article should clear things up for you.

    Today, we're going to run through the differences between anti-glare and polarised lenses.

    Let’s go.


    Person holding up tortoise shell sunglasses


    Should I get anti reflective coating on polarised sunglasses?

    Anti-reflective and anti-glare is actually the same thing.

    Thanks to marketing, these terminologies are regularly confused.

    See, you’re ahead of the game already.

    However, when you’re asking “do I need anti glare on polarised sunglasses?” you’re actually confusing a lens-coating with a lens-type.

    Keeping things simple, here’re some key points outlining the main characteristics of an anti-reflective coating.


    Anti-reflective/glare lenses key points.

    • AR (anti-reflective) is a secondary lens coating which is applied externally to the surfaces of both optical and sunglasses lenses.
    • It’s primary function is to let more light pass through a lens to reduce the amount of light bouncing off it.
    • AR is especially good for spectacles. They make your lenses less reflective and lets people see your eyes more easily.
    • AR reduces “bounce back” when light enters the gap between your face and eyeglasses from behind. This can become extremely irritating, not to mention can agitate and even damage your eyes leading to cataracts.
    • For sunglasses, AR coatings are only applied to the back of the lens to stop “bounce back” thus improving your ability to see clearly, free from reflected rear-entry light.
    • AR makes your glasses easier to clean thanks to oleophobic and hydrophobic properties. These terms mean that they repel oil and water more effectively making it easier to maintain their cleanliness and condition.
    • Certain AR coatings can also have ant scratch properties to minimise wear and tear on your lenses helping them last longer.


    Young male walking beside beach wearing stripey blue shirt and tortoise sunglasses


    Anti glare lenses pros and cons

    Lenses with an anti-glare coating are generally considered as a worthy upgrade, mostly a pro-decision.

    • AG/AR coatings are more commonly applied to prescription spectacle lenses, especially if they’re high index.
    • High index optical lenses are prone to reflect more light than weaker power lenses. This is why an AR coating is applied to let the light pass through the lens, rather than bouncing off it.
    • But when it comes to anti-glare on polarised sunglasses, AG/AR coatings are usually only on the back-side of the lens. This allows rear-entry light to pass through your lens, away from your eyes rather than bouncing backwards.
    • The only con of anti-glare coatings is they can make sunglasses cost more for a coating that isn’t entirely necessary.


    Should I get anti reflective coating on polarised sunglasses?

    Anti-reflective coatings on sun lenses, polarised or not, isn’t hugely beneficial.

    However, it would mean that your sun lenses reflect sunlight entering from the front and letting it pass through from the back. A bit like a one-way mirror.

    If your lenses don’t already have this, this additional coating can marginally enhance your sunglasses performance.


    Do I need anti glare on polarised sunglasses?

    If you’re willing to invest in anti reflective coating glasses after purchase, you’ll benefit from a reduction of sunlight “bounce back.”

    That’s about as far as the benefits go in terms of this post-purchase upgrade.

    Now it’s time to take a look at polarised sunglasses to determine their benefits compared to an anti reflective coating.


    Tortoise and grey sunglasses frames sitting together on top of white rock on beach 

    Are polarised lenses better?

    Polarised lenses are widely considered as a better type of sunglasses lens, especially from an anti-glare perspective.

    This is due to the way they work, explained in the key points listed below.


    Polarised lenses key points.

    • Polarised lenses contain an inbuilt chemical layer called a polariser. This is what informs the polarised sunglasses meaning.
    • This chemical layer is able to block horizontally orientated sunlight (glare) which is reflected from large flat surfaces such as water, ice, snow or shiny ground surfaces. This how polarised sunglasses are already anti-glare because of their in-built polariser.
    • Polarised lenses diminish horizontal light which is why they’re so effective at reducing eye strain. Less glare means less squinting which also reduces the likelihood of headaches.
    • Polarised lenses are particularly popular with sportspeople who spend long periods near water or snow.
    • Polarised lenses still need to be fully UV protective as the polariser-layer is only there to reduce glare and not as an additional barrier of eye protection.

      polarised tortoise shell sunglasses


      Young man on beach facing viewer whilst adjusting his sunglasses with both hands


      How do polarised sunglasses work?

      The way these lenses work is solely due to their ‘sandwich’ construction, with a chemical, polariser film wedged between multiple lens-layers.

      This chemical-film (the polariser) contains lots of tiny rows of vertically aligned molecules, very similar to something like prison bars.

      This vertical orientation acts like a filter which only lets vertically orientated light to pass through.

      Making sense so far?

      When sunlight hits the ground or sea, it bounces off and becomes horizontally polarised. This is due to the way it’s become reflected and condensed off a horizontal plane.


      And yes, it’s piercingly bright to look towards when you’re outside.

      This, my friend, is called glare.

      Remember those vertically aligned molecules? They stop that horizontally polarised light (glare) from passing through your polarised sunglasses and entering your eyes.


      This provides you with a silky smooth, uninterrupted view of what’s in front of you. Free from glare and protected from UV light.

      Yep, polarised lenses are pretty damn good. Which is exactly why we fit them to all of our British made sunglasses at no extra charge.

      Shop polarised sunglasses


      Young man standing at the beach wearing sunglasses with the sea behind him


      Which sunglasses are better polarised or nonpolarised?

      Before you make any decisions about either type of lens, it’s imperative that they provide you with basic UV protection.

      Polarised or not, your sunglasses need to block at least 99% of UV light in compliance with European standards; EN 1836:2005.

      And just because lenses are polarised, doesn’t mean they’re any more capable of blocking the damaging frequencies of electromagnetic light.

      As a rule of thumb, always check the UV rating of sunglasses lenses. They should come with a rating such as UV400.

      This means they protect your eyes from UVA and UVB light which are the most damaging frequencies within the UV light spectrum.


      But is polarised better?

      The reality is that polarised lenses are substantially more effective at reducing glare.

      Year round, reflected sunlight hammering your eyes is unavoidable. Non-polarised lenses aren’t as good at blocking this glare which provides a lower quality viewing experience compared to polarised lenses.

      This additional functionality is why they’re so popular for water sports as they allow you to see more clearly and focus for longer time periods.

      It's common for brands to charge more for polarised lenses but at Banton Frameworks, we fit them as standard for no additional cost.


      grey frame polarised sunglasses



      Man beside beach wearing black sunglasses looking away from viewer



      Do I need anti glare on polarised sunglasses?

      You do not need anti glare coatings on polarised sunglasses.

      They already block glare from their in-built polariser which is sandwiched within the layers of the polarised lens.


      Are polarised better?

      For various tasks such as driving, outdoor reading or sports, polarised sunglasses are a better choice of sunglasses lens.

      They reduce glare which reduces eye strain over long periods of time and prevent you from squinting or developing headaches.

      They can cost you more but our sunglasses are fitted with these lenses as standard.


      Do sunglasses need to be polarised?

      Polarised lenses are only better at reducing glare to improve your visual experience.

      Polarised lenses provide no extra protection against UV light, therefore, are not a mandatory requirement.

      If you’d like to learn more about how polarised lenses work, you should check out the other related articles at the foot of this blog page.


      matte black polarised sunglasses



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        Jamie Bartlett
        Jamie Bartlett

        Co-founder of Banton Frameworks.

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