Are Polarized Sunglasses Better for Running?


I’ve used both polarized and non-polarized sunglasses when running, but I have always wondered if polarized sunglasses are better than its counterpart. After all, polarized sunglasses are more expensive. So I did a little bit of research and used my own observations to find out whether polarized sunglasses are better for running. 

In general, polarized sunglasses provides more benefits than non-polarized sunglasses like reducing glare on reflective surfaces such as roads, but it is not necessarily better for running than non-polarized sunglasses. In some cases, non-polarized sunglasses are a better option since they do not affect depth perception. 

Ahead, we’ll take a look at the differences between polarized and non-polarized sunglasses, which is better for what type of run, and when to go for polarized or non-polarized sunglasses. 

Goodr Polarized sunglasses

Polarized vs Non-Polarized: Which is Better?

Polarized sunglasses uses a special lens filter that absorbs horizontal light waves, which are the main cause of glare. Non-polarized sunglasses, on the other hand, do not have this special filter and do not reduce glare.

Polarized sunglasses can offer some additional benefits for runners, such as reduced glare, improved visibility, and clarity. Glare from the sun can be especially distracting and annoying for runners, especially if you are running on a reflective surface like a road or sidewalk. Polarized lenses can help reduce glare and make it easier to see the path ahead, which can improve your performance and safety. Polarized lenses can also provide more comfort to your eyes. 

However, polarized sunglasses are not necessarily better for running than non-polarized ones. Non-polarized sunglasses can also provide protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays and reduce eye strain in bright conditions. Non-polarized sunglasses also don’t affect depth perception making them a better option when running in areas with lots of obstacles like trails. Additionally, non-polarized sunglasses are generally less expensive than polarized ones.

Both sunglasses offer some unique pros and cons which could be better when running in different conditions. 

When Should I Use Polarized Sunglasses?

Since polarized sunglasses have a special coating that blocks horizontal UV rays, they reduce glare and provide comfort to the eyes. 

Therefore, polarized sunglasses are best worn when running on reflective surfaces like the road, snow, beside a body of water, or running in an urban environment where there are lots of cars and buildings. 

When Not to Wear Polarized Sunglasses

Despite the fact that polarized sunglasses offer more benefits, there are instances where wearing them is not the best option. 

The extra coating of polarized sunglasses tends to distort depth perception, therefore, they aren’t the best choice when running on trails. In addition, the darker shade of polarized sunglasses makes it harder to see in low light conditions like early mornings or later afternoons. In these cases, wearing non-polarized sunglasses is the best way to go. 

Polarized sunglasses also tend to affect the visibility of LCD screens, so you may need to take them off whenever you take a look at your running watch or phone. 

By the way, if you’re wondering whether or not you need a GPS watch when running or would a phone do just fine, I compared both gadgets in terms of accuracy, ease of use, battery life, and more in another article (link above). 

Does Running Sunglasses Have to be Polarized?

Some companies advertise polarized sunglasses as the only way to go when selecting running sunglasses, however, running sunglasses do not necessarily need to be polarized, as non-polarized sunglasses can also provide protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays and reduce eye strain in bright conditions.

In fact, one of my favorite running sunglasses from Oakley isn’t polarized. Choosing whether or not to buy polarized sunglasses will depend on the conditions of your run. 

If you frequently run on the road, then you could spend that extra buck to buy polarized sunglass. But if you’re more on trail running, or running on a not-so-sunny day, it’s better and cheaper to go with non-polarized sunglasses. 

If you’re looking for the best sunglasses for running, I’ve made a list of my top 5 running sunglasses

Final Thoughts

Overall, polarized sunglasses can be a good choice for runners who train in bright, sunny conditions and want to reduce glare and improve visibility. However, it’s important to consider the potential drawbacks and determine whether they’re the right choice for your individual needs and running environment. If you’re unsure which type of sunglasses is best for you, it’s a good idea to try out a few different pairs and see which ones work best.

Nicho Mauricio

Running wasn't always my favorite sport. I was a CrossFit athlete and I loved every bit of it. But since the pandemic began, I was forced to stay away from the gym and train at home instead. Things got boring. That's when I decided to trail run with my friends. I instantly got hooked. So I started training and researching all things running. As a beginner, I want to buy only the best running gear and do only the best practices. This blog is where I share what I've learned in my journey and my experiences as a runner.

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