While similar language is used to define polarized lenses and anti-reflective coatings, they actually function rather differently. Continue on to learn when to use polarized lenses vs. anti-reflective coating on your glasses.


Polarized Lenses vs. Anti-Reflective Coating

1. Polarization
2. Anti-Reflective Coating
3. Are Polarized Sunglasses Better?
4. When Not to Use Polarized Lenses
5. Other Lens Features


Polarization

Let’s kick it off with what polarization actually is. It’s a laminate on your lenses that cuts all glare off of objects at a 90-degree angle, also known as surface glare. Surface glare is common on the water, in the snow, and on the road. For example, sports that benefit from polarized lenses are running, cycling, and fishing.


Anti-Reflective Coating

And what about anti-reflective coating? Also known as AR coating, it’s a coating that minimizes glare and reflection bouncing off the lens. An AR coating is almost always a good idea, but it’s especially beneficial if you use a computer, are under fluorescent lights, or facing oncoming headlights when you’re driving at night.


Are Polarized Sunglasses Better?

Whether or not polarized lenses are right for you depends on when you’re using your sunglasses. For instance, fishermen need a polarized lens to cut the surface glare on top of the water so they can see fish beneath the surface.

Similarly, runners use polarized lenses to spot slicks in the road and slight differences in the terrain.


When Not to Use Polarized Lenses

Sometimes a tinted lens will serve you better than a polarized lens. Polarized lenses have the same glare-filter technology as many of our electronic devices, and they tend to make the screen appear black. If you’re a long-range cyclist and rely on your navigation system, polarized lenses are probably not a good fit.

Polarization also impacts depth perception, so if you play a sport that requires you to spot and track fast movement, like baseball or skeet-shooting, you’ll be better off with tinted lenses, rather than polarized lenses.


Other Lens Features

If you opt for a contrast-enhancing tinted lens rather than a polarized lens, you definitely want to make sure they are UV-protected. An anti-reflective coating is also a great addition to any pair of glasses to eliminate glare and reflection.


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