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Polarized vs. Mirror Sunglasses

Polarized vs. Mirror Sunglasses

By Meredith Marmurek 

Both mirrored and polarized sunglasses are designed to reduce glare to help you see better near reflective surfaces like water, glass, and roadways. By reducing glare, these lenses may improve visual comfort and help reduce some symptoms of eye strain. 

What’s the Difference Between Polarized and Mirrored Sunglasses? 

The main differences between these lenses are:  


  • Mirrored lenses provide a greater sense of privacy because they prevent people from seeing the wearer’s eyes. They also won’t be affected by screens with a polarized filter, such as a phone display or instrument panel in a car.

  • Polarized lenses filter horizontal light rays from reflective surfaces so that only vertical light gets through to your eyes. They’re considered the best option for reducing glare in many situations, though they may make it difficult to see some digital displays.  


Read on to learn more about mirrored, polarized, and even polarized mirrored sunglasses, so you can choose the best pair for you. 

What Are Mirrored Sunglasses? 

Mirrored sunglasses have a thin metallic coating on the outside of the lenses that reflects between 10% and 60% more visible light than regular tinted lenses. These reflective sunglasses can also reduce harsh glare so you can see more comfortably around reflective surfaces in bright sunlight. 

Reasons to Choose Mirrored or Reflective Sunglasses 

In addition to looking cool, here are some reasons to wear mirrored (or reflective) sunglasses: 


  • Privacy, mystique and flair – These reflective sunglasses are a good choice if you don’t want people to be able to see your eyes while wearing your shades. They also give you a sense of mystery and style. 

  • Driving clarity – Nearby cars and the roadways you drive on provide reflective surfaces for the sun’s light. Mirrored sunglasses may reduce this glare better than sunglasses without mirrored lenses.  

  • Visual comfort – By reflecting harsh light and glare away from your eyes, you may experience improved visual comfort and fewer symptoms of eye strain.   


What Are Polarized Sunglasses? 

Polarized sunglasses have a specialized filter applied to the lenses that reduces glare so you can see more clearly in bright sunlight. 


Glare created by the sun travels in horizontal light waves. The polarization filter allows the lenses to absorb horizontal light while allowing vertical light to pass through.  

Pros of Polarized Sunglasses 

Polarized sunglasses are a good choice in many situations, including: 


  • Water sports – Polarized sunglasses are a good choice to wear when you’re on the water because they cut down on glare from the water’s reflective surface.  

  • Outdoor sports – Another benefit of polarized shades is that they reduce the amount of visible light entering your eyes. This helps outdoor athletes see better in bright sunlight and reduces their need to squint.  

  • Daytime driving – Light bouncing off highly reflective surfaces like the road and car windshields can make driving dangerous. Polarized lenses help reduce reflected glare so you can drive more safely. 

  • Cloudy days – Ultraviolet (UV) light rays from the sun can reach your eyes even on cloudy days. Glare can also still occur on cloudy days when light is reflected off surfaces like concrete, snow, and sand. A polarized lens reduces this glare on both sunny and cloudy days. 


There are certain situations where you may not want to wear polarized shades: 


  • With digital screens – Some light displays, digital screens, and instrument panels, like on car dashboards, smartphones, and ATMs, may have a polarized filter. This can make it difficult to read what’s on those screens when wearing polarized sunglasses. 

  • In wintry weather – While polarized glare reduction is a good thing in most situations, it can actually be hazardous in the snow and ice. This is because you need to see the light reflected off ice as a warning of any upcoming dangerous ice patches. 

  • Driving at night – You need to take in as much light as possible while driving at night. Sunglasses reduce the amount of light that reaches your eyes and should not be worn to drive at night. 

What About Polarized Mirrored Sunglasses? 

If you like the stylish look and added privacy you get with mirrored sunglasses, and you want the extra glare reduction you get with polarized sunglasses, you may want to consider getting polarized mirrored sunglasses. Just know that the combination style may be harder to find than either type of sunglasses on its own. 


Whatever style you choose, the most important reason to wear sunglasses is to protect your eyes from the sun’s damaging UV rays. All Foster Grant sunglasses, including mirrored shades and polarized sunnies, have 100% UVA-UVB lens protection and are scratch-resistant. 




  1. What are mirrored sunglasses? All About Vision. January 2021.* 
  2. Mirrored sunglasses. Eyebuydirect. June 2022.* 
  3. What are polarized sunglasses?  All About Vision. January 2021.* 


The sources listed here have been provided for informational purposes only. The citation of a particular souce does not constitute an endorsement or approval of EssilorLuxottica products, services, or opinions by such source. 


*Like Foster Grant, All About Vision, AAV Media, LLC, and Eyebuydirect are affiliates of EssilorLuxottica.