UV Protection vs Polarized Sunglasses: Comparison Guide


Many people tend to think that there is no difference between UV protection vs polarized sunglasses, that both fulfill the same purpose, and that you can use them interchangeably with no problem. Although this is true to some extent, there is a marked difference between these two. If you are buying a pair of outdoor or sports sunglasses for your next, hiking, rock climbing, or kayaking adventure then the guide below should help make choosing between polarized vs UV protection sunglasses easier. 

Protection from Glare

Light gets reflected from every surface like water, the face of a building, the hood of a car, and so on and resulting in a glare. Although you wouldn’t worry about this on a normal day, it can be a huge problem when you’re doing engaged in something that requires clarity of vision.

For instance, it can be dangerous walking on a ski run and constantly turning your eyes away from the track because of the glare on the snow since this puts you at risk of being run over by another skier. Another example would be when you’re rock climbing and the discomforting effects of glare make it difficult for you to find a solid handhold or foothold.

In such scenarios, the question of whether you should use polarized vs UV protection sunglasses is pretty easy to solve: go for polarized sunglasses.

The lenses in polarized sunglasses are coated with a special chemical film designed specifically to reduce glare, hence preventing it from interfering with your vision. By filtering the length that comes in from different angles, polarized sunglasses prevent a reduction in in-depth perception and distorted color perception. The coating is pretty durable, although you’ll want to learn how to clean polarized sunglasses properly to increase their longevity.

Going back to the previous example, wearing polarized sunglasses for skiing will help ensure that you clear vision despite the glare coming off of the snow. Or when you’re out hiking in the desert, you’ll need a good pair of polarized hiking sunglasses to fight the glare coming off of the rocks and surroundings.

Although UV protection sunglasses have tinted lenses, these are quite different from actual polarized lenses. There are UV protection sunglasses that have polarized lenses, you just need to make sure that it is indicated in the product’s label if you intend to buy one.

So when it comes to protection against glare between UV protection vs polarized sunglasses, the latter is the better option. If you’re engaged in any activity which requires clear vision throughout, then you’ll want to get yourself a pair of polarized sunglasses.

UV Protection

There are two types of ultraviolet rays that cause damage to the eyes. There are UV-A rays that were found to damage the macula which in turn damages your central vision. Then there are UV-B rays which are absorbed by the cornea and the lens, making them more hazardous than UV-A rays.

In any case, extensive exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays causes severe damage to the eyes, leading to conditions such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and others.

And don’t make the mistake of thinking that you only need to wear sunglasses when you’re out in the open. Yes, you’ll also want to wear sunglasses even when under shade to protect your eyes from damage. Staying under the shade of your beach umbrella doesn’t protect your eyes from UV rays if you’re looking at the brightly glimmering seawater.

So in terms of protection from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, there is a marked difference between UV protection vs polarized sunglasses. Although both types of sunglasses offer protection against harmful ultraviolet rays, the former is much more effective than the latter.

Think of them as you would with sunscreen, with UV protection sunglasses having higher SPF than polarized sunglasses. When you think of it this way, the choice between polarized vs UV protection sunglasses is pretty much clear. 

UV Protection or Polarized Sunglasses: Which One Should You Choose?

Now that we’re clear with the differences between UV protection vs polarized sunglasses, it’s time to face the bigger question: which one should you buy and use?

The answer is pretty simple: just think about why you’re buying sunglasses in the first place. For instance, if you’re looking for a pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes from glare on the water while boating or kayak fishing, then you should be looking at polarized sunglasses.

On the other hand, if you’re primary reason for buying a pair of sunglasses is to protect your eyes from the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays, then UV protection sunglasses are what you need.

So the next time you go shopping for sunglasses, be sure to keep the tip above in mind. This will make choosing between polarized vs UV protection sunglasses a much easier task.



Q: Is 100 percent UV protection the same as polarized?


No, not all sunglasses with 100% UV protection are polarized. Remember, UV protection sunglasses are specifically designed to protect your eyes from the harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet rays and not reduce glare (which is the purpose of polarized sunglasses). UV protection sunglasses have tinted lenses but these aren’t always as effective as actual polarized sunglasses in reducing glare.

Q: Are all polarized sunglasses UV protected?


No, not all polarized sunglasses offer complete protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Although some of them do offer the said feature, many more simply offer minimal amount of UV protection. Remember, the primary purpose of polarized sunglasses is to reduce glare, and having UV protection is just big plus.

Q: How can you tell if sunglasses are UV protected?


You can tell if a pair of sunglasses is UV protected by looking at its label. Manufacturers generally indicate this in their products with lines like “100% protection against UVA and UVB” and others. In case you’re having doubts, you can also bring your sunglasses to an optical shop and have them tested through a photometer.

Globo Surf Overview

A good pair of sunglasses is an essential piece of equipment for hikers, rock climbers, kayakers, and just about anyone who loves spending their time in the great outdoors. Not only will it give your eyes the protection it needs, but it will also help to ensure that you have clarity of vision so that you can better enjoy your day outdoors. Whether you’re looking for fishing sunglasses, sailing sunglasses, or other, the guide above about UV protection vs polarized sunglasses should be able to help you determine which of the two types of sunglasses mentioned will best suit your needs. Knowing the difference between polarized vs UV protection sunglasses will also help ensure that you wear the right type of sunglasses required by your adventure.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!