Sunglasses are one of my favorite things to wear. I use them almost every day especially since I live in sunny Los Angeles. Sunglasses help protect my eyes from UV rays and glare, especially when driving around sunset. They also reduce eye strain, which is even more common now with all our devices and screens. Though a question that seems to come up a lot is whether it’s worth paying for polarized lenses when buying sunglasses. In this video/post, we’ll share our thoughts and provide some tips to consider.

The big question: Are they worth the extra cost?

In my opinion, I think they are totally worth it. While normal sunglasses reduce the brightness of an environment, polarized lenses remove or reduce glare. Polarized lenses are like blinds which shutter out some of the light that reflects at a certain angle.

To see the difference, you’ll have to watch the video above. I basically review two scenarios to demonstrate the polarization. The first is from a kayaking trip to the Channel Islands. You can see that the glare from the waves is dramatically reduced with my polarized sunglasses. The second is from a recent trip to Playa del Carmen, Mexico. You can see that the polarized sunglasses remove a large amount of the glare in the lagoon. This gives me more visibility into the water. In fact, with the lenses, I am able to see objects and animals in the lagoon that out of sight without my glasses.

To sum up, polarized sunglasses remove glare and often allow you to see more things in the environment. This is especially the case around water. You’ll see a lot of marine sports enthusiasts using them to improve their experience and performance.

The downside of polarized lenses

There are a couple of negatives when using polarized lens. Sometimes I notice that my polarized sunglasses shows weird patterns in glass, especially in car windows. Also, certain electronic displays are blocked by polarized lens. This affects some fuel pump displays and portable electronic screens.

Another question you might have is whether it’s worth buying a premium pair of sunglasses. While a cheap pair of polarized lens will work just fine, it might be worth looking at a higher quality pair. With better quality sunglasses, you’ll generally find several enhancements. Things like better frame and lens materials, more clarity, less distortion, stronger hinges, better materials, and less reflective glare.

Of course, if you’re the type to lose or break your sunglasses often, then I would advise against a premium pair. Just make sure that any sunglasses you buy are marked to block UV rays. Wearing sunglasses that are simply dark and not designed to block UV rays are actually more harmful than helpful.

My personal favorite — the Maui Jim Eh Brah sunglasses

If you’ve seen some of our destination videos, you’ll see that I’m often wearing the same pair of sunglasses. I wear a pair of Maui Jim Eh Brah sunglasses. I use them every day and I would buy them again in heartbeat. I’ve owned other premium brand sunglasses like Ray Bans and Oakleys. However, I’ve found the lens quality of my Maui Jim glasses to be the best of the bunch. The lenses on my pair are made from SuperThin glass. This makes them heavier than plastic, but incredible when it comes to clarity and scratch resistance.

I’m a big fan of Maui Jim. Not just because I think their products are great, but also because they do stand by their customers. If you need to replace a lens, Maui Jim will do it at a reasonable price and with a quick turnaround. It gives me peace of mind knowing that they care about their customers and the investment made when buying their glasses.

Additional tips and considerations

If you do invest in a pair of premium polarized sunglasses, here are some additional tips.

1. Consider the lens material:

This is most important component of the sunglasses. I love glass lenses, like the SuperThin glass found in my Maui Jim sunglasses. They offer the most clarify and scratch resistance. Though I realize that they’re not for everyone. Plastic is much more comfortable and shatter-resistant. This is very important if you have a high-impact hobby or profession.

2. Consider the frame material:

If you like non-metal frames, you’ll find that acetate is a much more durable material than plastic. If you like metal frames, then consider titanium over stainless steel if you’re spending time near or in salt water. Titanium is rust resistant and lighter than stainless steel.

3. Pick the right lens shade color:

Grey lenses tend to have the greatest light reduction and color accuracy. This makes them the best choice for bright and direct sunlight. Brown lenses are warmer and can be used in more varied lighting situations. Other lens colors, like rose or green, can boost contrast and be used in lower light. These may be best if you used for a specific hobby or environment.

4. Look for anti-reflective treatments:

Many premium lenses have anti-reflective treatments. These are awesome, as they reduce the amount of “bounce back” glare when the sun is behind you. This improves the clarity and reduces eye fatigue from having to squint.

5. Clean your glasses properly and often:

You don’t need an expensive and fancy glass cleaner to keep your lenses clean. You can use a mild dish soap to wash off oils and dirt from the glasses. I personally use an eco friendly detergent with no fragrance. I would suggest using a microfiber cloth to dry and wipe off the sunglasses. They not only absorb more, but will prevent any scratches on the lenses.

6. Get a sunglasses case:

If you’re investing in a nice pair of sunglasses, makes sure to get a case and use it when traveling. You’ll often get one when you buy a quality pair. Though if you need one, there are plenty of inexpensive and strong cases on Amazon.

7. Be wary of designer brand names:

A lot of brands get away with offering marginally better glasses, but placing their designer brand name on the lens and frame. Just make sure you inspect the frame and lenses before making a purchase. You want to verify that you’re getting value when buying a more premium pair of sunglasses.

Please let us know if you’re a fan of polarized sunglasses, and if so, what brands do you like to use? 

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