Wondering if polarized lenses belong in your sports sunglasses? SportRx has got the answers and it all comes down to your sport. Join us as we reveal which sports benefit from polarization, when it can create a hindrance to your performance, and when it can go either way.

Table of Contents

A. Video Review
B. What Are Polarized Lenses?
C. Which Sports Benefit from Polarized Lenses?
D. Which Sports Could Use — or Skip — Polarization?
E. Which Sports Should NOT Use Polarized Lenses?
F. Polarized Prescription Sunglasses Online at SportRx


Video Review

Join Eyeglass Tyler as he demystifies when to get polarized lenses in sports sunglasses — and when to skip it. To see the dos and don’ts of polarization for sports, continue reading below.


What Are Polarized Lenses?

Before we can say whether you should get polarized lenses in sports sunglasses or not, it’s important to understand what it is and how it works.

Glare is created when vertical light bounces off a reflective horizontal surface at a ninety degree angle. The result is polarized wavelengths, aka glare, which reduce visibility, distort color, and provoke eye strain.

Polarized lenses use a vertical chemical treatment to block these horizontal wavelengths from entering your vision; revealing increased clarity and contrast.

Drawing showing how polarized lenses work

How Polarized Lenses Work

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Which Sports Benefit from Polarized Lenses?

Let’s start with sports that benefit from polarized lenses. These sports will either be enhanced by the effects of polarization, or may go as far as requiring it to perform.

Fishing

Without a doubt, polarized sunglasses for fishing are a must. When glare surrounds you, polarized lenses protect the integrity of your vision while cutting harsh glare. At its best, polarized sunglasses help you see beneath the surface of the water, making it easier to spot your next catch.

Depending on your type of fishing, our Sports Opticians recommend different polarized lenses. Follow the link below to explore specific lens recommendations per fishing type.

view of water and fish through polarized lenses compared to standard lenses
Pretty striking, right? Follow the link to learn how polarized sunglasses help you see fish!

Boating & Sailing

Similar to fishing, boating and sailing makes your vision susceptible to glare. Bodies of water are one of the greatest sources of blinding glare and uncomfortable eye strain. Any water sport, or leisurely time spent by the water, benefits from polarization.

Running

Generally speaking, there is no downside to having polarized sunglasses for running. Especially if you run near bodies of water or roads, polarized lenses can help cut glare to keep your vision comfortable.

If you would like specific lens recommendations based on your running terrain, check out our blog on polarized lenses for running.

Driving

Polarized sunglasses can make for a great everyday pair of frames. For driving, they’ll block the harsh glare created off other vehicles, help you make out details of the road (potholes — we see you!), and create a distraction-free visual experience.

To learn more about the positive effects of polarization for driving, visit our blog that compares polarized vs non-polarized sunglasses.


Which Sports Could Use — or Skip — Polarization?

In this category, polarized lenses are a question of debate and it ultimately comes down to personal preference. What some could consider a benefit from polarization, others could consider a hindrance. Let’s take a look at both sides of the argument, per sport.

Cycling

For the most part, polarized sunglasses can help when you’re on the bike. It will help you make out the terrain by providing greater clarity and contrast. There is, however, a flipside.

One of the most common complaints about polarized lenses for cyclists, is that their sunglasses aren’t compatible with their digital display unit. Today, since there are so many types of digital displays, its difficult to say if polarized sunglasses will work with one’s specific bike display, or not. Our recommendation? Get familiar with the type of handlebar display on your bike and simply test it out with a pair of polarized sunglasses.

Unsure if polarized cycling sunglasses are for you? Check out our guide on polarized lenses for cycling.

Skiing & Snowboarding

Snow is another great source of glare. As we’ve learned, polarization cuts glare, but there is another affect at play when in a snowy environment. Polarized lenses can also hinder your ability to discern ice from snow. When skiing or snowboarding, this could be a potential risk.

We will say however, that are some snow goggles that are built with a light level of polarization. This creates a good compromise because it allows you to benefit from the glare-reducing abilities of polarization, without completely preventing you from spotting ice in your path.

Overall, this category is one of the most popular for personal preference. Some skiers love a polarized filter, while others can’t stand it. It may be as simple as trying it out, to see if you like a polarized lens on the mountain, or not.

Safety

Safety is a vast category and ultimately comes down to your type of environment. Some environments benefit from a polarized lens, while others do not. To get personal feedback based on your environment and activity, reach out to one of our friendly opticians. They can help you determine if polarized safety sunglasses are a good option for you.

Mountaineering

Senior Optician Eyeglass Tyler typically recommends a polarized lens for mountaineers. This is due to the high altitudes and harsh lighting conditions, which can create an uncomfortable and distracting visual experience. A polarized lens will cut this glare and keep you focused on your next move.

The drawback? When you are in environments with snow. Similar to skiing and snowboarding, polarization can hinder our ability to discern ice from snow. If you’re often mountaineering in snowy conditions, you will want to keep this in mind when selecting eyewear.

Golf

Generally speaking, there is no significant benefit from polarized lenses in golf. When you’re on the green, besides the occasional body of water, there are minimal sources of glare. It is also important to consider that polarization can affect depth perception, which could negatively impact your golf performance.

The exception? Maui Jim polarized sunglasses. Our Sports Opticians have given Maui Jim golf sunglasses the stamp of approval for polarized lens technology when on the green. To learn why and more about it, visit our Maui Jim Golf Sunglasses Buyer’s Guide.

Golf course with club, sunglasses, and golf ball on ground.

Polarized lenses reveal no significant benefit to golfers

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Which Sports Should NOT Use Polarized Lenses?

In this category, you should avoid polarized sunglasses. These sports do not benefit from the effects of polarized lenses, and may even be negatively affected by it.

Ball Sports

Polarized lenses are notorious for affecting depth perception. When playing sports like baseball, softball, or tennis, it’s crucial to make split-second decisions according to the speed and distance of the ball. Polarized lenses may disrupt your ability to accurately react due to a skewed depth perception.

Mountain Biking

For the same reason we forgo polarized sunglasses for ball sports, we also don’t recommend it for mountain biking. Inaccurate depth perception can be a risk when blazing at fast speeds. Mountain bikers have to rapidly make out the terrain and adjust accordingly. A polarized lens could negatively affect how one reads the road.

Another reason to avoid polarized sunglasses for mountain biking is due to the environment. Typically, MTB terrains are not in areas of glare. More often than not, trails are in dry environments or surrounded by trees, which does not require a polarized lens.

Want lens recommendations for your MTB sunglasses? Check out our MTB Lens Guide!

Man mountain biking on trail while wearing sunglasses.

Oakley PRIZM™ Trail Lenses Make Details Pop in MTB Sunglasses

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Polarized Prescription Sunglasses Online at SportRx

Need polarized prescription sunglasses? Done. When you shop with us, you’ll find video guides and tooltips throughout the build process as you customize the perfect pair. An answer to all your questions is at your fingertips, and if you want to chat with an expert, contact us. We’ll put you in touch with one of our friendly in-house opticians who can help you build your prescription polarized sunglasses.

Ditch risky online shopping with our See Better Guarantee. Try your sunglasses for 45 days. If you’re not satisfied, send them back. Get a full refund, exchange, or credit towards a better pair. And return shipping? Covered. Get your pair of prescription polarized sunglasses at SportRx today!

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