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While many people opt for polarized sunglasses for sports and outdoor activities, others may just appreciate the reduced glare and improved clarity that comes with a polarized pair of shades.
The importance of sunglasses extends beyond better visibility: They’re part of a good eye health regimen, too.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), long-term exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is associated with cataracts and eye growths. So, keep your eyes safe and your view clear with our roundup of the best polarized sunglasses below.
Glare, or sunlight that bounces off smooth surfaces, can be annoying, fatiguing, and even dangerous.
To reduce glare, polarized lenses use a special chemical that filters light reflected horizontally, such as the kind that bounces off calm water or snow. It makes the lens a bit darker, but it also makes objects crisper and easier to see.
Note that polarized lenses don’t actually offer more UV protection, but by providing contrast, they can reduce glare and make outdoor activities like skiing and cycling safer.
We only included polarized sunglasses that clearly note 99 to 100 percent UV protection, in keeping with the AAO guidelines.
We chose a range of styles to suit many tastes and considered the most popular activities that require polarized sunglasses. We also took into account affordability and sustainability.
The price of a good pair of shades can depend on the brand and special features. Pricing is based as follows:
- $ = under $50
- $$ = $50–$150
- $$$ = over $150
Best polarized sunglasses overall
With a 4.5-star rating and over 6,000 customer reviews, Woodies’ polarized glasses offer the total package at an affordable price. The wooden arms add a hip element to a classic Wayfarer style that works for many people. A durable plastic frame and stainless-steel, double spring hinges give these shades a better chance of repeat wear year after year.
Best value polarized sunglasses
With a classic aviator frame that suits many face shapes and a strong 4-star rating on Amazon, it’s hard to go wrong with these budget shades. They’re made of a lightweight metal alloy and feature spring-loaded hinges.
A metal frame and polarized, scratch-resistant coating add durability severely lacking in many sunglasses priced under $20. Plus, customers can personalize their glasses by choosing from ash gray, gold, or matte black frames.
Best polarized sunglasses for men
The look of O’Neill Harlyn sunglasses — large, bold, and square-shaped — is unmistakable, and a preferred style for many people. With an Amazon rating of 4.5 stars and over 400 reviews, they’re clearly a fan favorite.
Reviewers appreciate the durable, yet lightweight feel for an affordable price tag. Plus, the eco-polymers, mainly from cotton and wood cellulose, are natural and renewable materials.
Best polarized sunglasses for women
For decades, Ray-Ban has stood out as one of the top designer sunglass brands, in part due to their classic, recognizable design. Their Erika line offers a stylish frame with either polarized or non-polarized lenses. With a mix of both form and function, the oversized round frames offer extra coverage from the sun, and the soft bridge adds an element of comfort.
For people willing to spend a little bit more for designer frames, the Erika is a solid choice. With an Amazon rating of 4.5 stars and 2,761 reviews, it’s clearly a choice many customers are happy with.
Best polarized sunglasses for kids
These frames may be a good bet for kids. The wooden arms add a cool, unique look, and kids can choose from blue, black, lime green, or pink frames and lenses.
Double spring hinges are designed for a snug and comfortable fit with no pinch. And because these sunglasses are made of recycled, BPA-free plastic, kids can feel better about their impact on the planet.
Best polarized sunglasses for fishing
Polarized sunglasses are crucial for fishermen. Not only does a pair protect them from hours of UV rays, but the reduction of glare means they can see into the water.
These polarized sunglasses also come with a bonus for fisherman: They float! Their nylon materials give them an extremely light feel both on the face and in the water. In addition, they have a hydrophobic coating and antifog lens treatment, which is great if you spend time near or on the water.
Best polarized sunglasses for skiing and snow sports
When adventuring in the snow, you want shades that stand up to moisture and cut through intense glare while staying on your face. Under Armour designed these rectangular, wraparound sunglasses to do just that.
These sunglasses have a special coating that both repels water and is resistant to smudging, and their autogrip temples are designed for a more secure fit. With all of these design features and the Under Armour name, their higher price tag is justified.
Best polarized sunglasses for cycling
Oakley is a well-known brand for performance sports sunglasses. Their Sutro sunglasses were created especially for cyclists, and are meant to withstand impact. The special polarized coating on lenses enhances color and contrast.
The nose pads are designed to increase grip with perspiration, and the lightweight frames are meant for all-day wear. Like most Oakley glasses, the Sutro’s bold, wraparound look lends style credibility.
Best polarized reader sunglasses
Sunglass magnified eyeglasses are perfect for reading poolside. These polarized polycarbonate injection molded lenses offer a 9 base lens curvature.
The slightly oversized frame, made of a bio-based material, works for many face shapes and offers great coverage for high sun exposure. The higher price tag isn’t bad for the added corrective lenses, plus these glasses come with both a 30-day return and lifetime warranty.
Best polarized prescription sunglasses
Prescription sunglasses can get pricey. Online optical retailer Warby Parker offers a more affordable line of prescription sunglasses. All of their sunglasses use polarized lenses, and the anti-scratch coating comes free.
The best of the bunch is arguably the Sutton. The trapezoidal lenses make for a refined frame that suits many people. Customers can even choose a medium or wide width for a better fit.
Warby Parker’s prescription lenses are made from an impact-resistant material called polycarbonate and use a special coating on their screws, making these shades more durable for your sunny adventures.
Best recycled polarized sunglasses
These polarized sunglasses offer customers a carbon-neutral alternative. They’re made of recycled plastic resin, so nonbiodegradable materials that would have normally found their way to a landfill are being repurposed to shield your eyes from the sun.
They’re also shipped in plastic-free packaging, and Sunksi will replace your scratched lenses for free to reduce further waste. A versatile, comfortable frame makes these eco-friendly sunnies a solid choice.
There are so many brands and types of polarized sunglasses to choose from, so here are a few tips to keep in mind while shopping:
- Look for sunglasses that say 99 percent UV, 100 percent UV, or UV 400 protection. If a pair doesn’t explicitly say it offers UV protection, it probably doesn’t.
- Avoid glasses that are too small or don’t cover your eye area completely.
- Any brand that puts extra attention on the hinge screws, which often stretch and wear out over time, will likely produce a longer-lasting pair of sunglasses.
- If your sunglasses tend to take a beating, opt for those that have a scratch-resistant lens treatment.
What to keep in mind
Polarized sunglasses are great for many activities, but not all. The polarization of the lens can make it hard to see LCD screens, such as those on car dashboards, cellphones, and ATM cash machines.
There’s a pair of sunglasses for every type of person, whether you’re an outdoor sports enthusiast or a fashion-forward sunbather. The list above can help set you on the path to finding your next perfect pair.