How To Tell If Sunglasses Are Polarized

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If you love fishing or boating, especially on a sunny day, ensure that you have a pair of polarized sunglasses.

When sunlight hits a highly reflective surface like open water, the light bounces back to your eyes. The result is strained eyes and compromised vision.

Wearing polarized sunglasses helps to protect your eyes from the sun, thanks to anti-glare technology. However, there are so many brands of sunglasses on the market. Some even claim to be polarized when they are genuinely not!

Are you having a hard time determining if your shades are actually polarized? Worry not! Here are simple DIY tests you can do to tell if your sunglasses are polarized.

how to tell if sunglasses are polarized
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How Can You Tell If Something Is Polarized?

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There are several methods that you can use to determine if your sunglasses are polarized or not.

You can choose one that works best for you or test several methods for certainty. Let’s look into each of the methods in depth:

The Single Pair Method

As the name suggests, this method is ideal when you have only one pair of sunglasses. The single pair method is also known as testing on a reflective surface.

You will need a surface that produces glare when reflected light shines on it. It could be a water’s surface, polished metal, a glass table, a mirror, or any other flat, shiny surface.

Ensure that the glare is visible from 2 to 3 feet away. To have an excellent glare, shine a flashlight or turn an overhead light on the reflective surface. You can also use natural sunlight.

Hold your shades 6 to 8 inches in front of your eyes. View the reflective surface through one lens at a time.

You might need to move your sunglasses closer to the face, depending on the size of the lenses. Then, tilt your head and the sunglasses to an angle of 60 degrees.

Observe what happens to the reflected light through the lenses. If the glare disappears, your lenses are polarized.

The Two Pairs Method

Do you have an existing pair of polarized sunglasses and want to check if your new pair is polarized as well? That’s simple.

This test involves comparing two pairs of sunglasses.

Hold the polarized pair of shades out and the new pair in front of it, ensuring that you can see through both lenses. Next, rotate the questionable shades 60 degrees to the other lens.

Look through the two overlapping glasses at the same time. If both pairs of glasses are polarized, the lenses become darker. And if there is no change in color, then your glasses are not polarized.

Here are some things you should keep in mind:

  • Ensure that the sunglasses you use to test the new ones for polarization are indeed polarized for accurate results.
  • Ensure that the lenses are one to two inches apart. If they touch each other, they won’t produce accurate results and can also scratch the coating.
  • Position your sun-style glasses before a bright light, natural or artificial, to make the shading more distinct.

The Computer Screen Method

Most computer screens, especially those with LCDs, have the same anti-glare technology as polarized sunglasses, and you can test the polarization of your glasses by looking at the screen.

Open a white screen and adjust the LCD display to the brightest setting; the brighter the screen, the more prominent the results.

Wear your sunglasses and sit directly in front of the computer screen. If possible, elevate the screen to eye level. Then, look at the screen through both lenses and tilt your head to an angle of 60 degrees. If the lenses turn black, your glasses are polarized.

The Test Sticker Method

This method is suitable if you are buying new polarized sunglasses. Most brands include test tags on the lenses of new glasses.

Rotate the lens to 60 degrees and look at the test tag. If the sticker gets dark, you can rest assured that your sunglasses are polarized.

The Test Card Method

Although this method is rare and will cost you a few bucks, it is effective in testing for polarization.

You can purchase test cards from websites and businesses that sell polarized glasses.

The test card appears blank when you look at it with your bare eyes or regular sunglasses. And when you view the card through polarized lenses, an image appears on it.

What Does a Polarized Lens Look Like?

Sometimes, you will notice that a polarized lens appears darker than a standard tinted lens. But, this does not mean that if your glasses are not darker, they are not polarized.

Polarized lenses come in various shades depending on the material used to manufacture them. The popular colors are brown, gray, melanin, green and yellow. The darker the shade, the stronger the effect.

What Is the Difference Between Polarized and Regular Sunglasses?

By looking at them physically, you may not tell the difference between polarized sunglasses and normal glasses. Even worse, some unethical businesses will market low-quality sunglasses as polarized when they are not!

The best way to determine if your sunglasses are polarized or not is by testing them. Wear your sunglasses, tilt your head to the right angle and look at reflective surfaces or computer screens. If the lens appears darker, then your glasses are polarized.

Are All Ray-Bans Polarized?

Not all Ray-Bans are polarized. So, when you shop, confirm if your preferred pair is polarized or not.

Polarized Ray Bans feature a trademark P on the lenses near the Ray-Ban logo.

How Do Polarized Sunglasses Work?

Polarized sunglasses undergo a chemical treatment embedded in the glass or applied as a coating. This coating helps in blocking horizontal light waves, leading to a significant reduction in glare.

What are the Benefits of Polarized Lenses?

You may ask, do polarized lenses matter? Yes, they do!

I cannot emphasize the benefits of wearing polarized sunglasses enough. Here is what they do:

  • They offer UV protection.
  • They sharpen contrast and allow an accurate perception of colors.
  • They have an anti-glare feature to filter horizontal light waves, resulting in improved visual clarity. They are perfect for sports, anglers, boaters, and truckers.
  • They reduce eye strain, more so on a sunny day.
  • They improve your overall vision and visual comfort.


Although polarized sunglasses are pretty famous, many brands still offer non-polarized versions. Some even fake tinted lenses and misleading labels to convince you they are polarized.

To be on the safe side, never take the manufacturer’s word for it. Always do the necessary tests to confirm that they are polarized before you shop.

Dark sunglasses are not necessarily polarized. They may not offer sufficient protection against UV radiation, blue light, and glare. As a result, they expose you to macular degeneration, sunburned eyes, and intraocular cancer.

Wearing polarized sunglasses when driving will enhance your vision and reduce glare. However, avoid using these glasses at night as it can be hard to notice icy patches on the road.

Diana Nadim
Fishing Expert
Diana began fishing at the age of seven, as it has been a long-time family tradition. From catching small bullheads to catching strippers on the backwaters of Bighorn, she loves to get out in the wild and have a marvelous day on the water. Her dad was an expert angler, and he taught her fishing along with her two siblings. They used to go to the Bighorn River in Montana and Henry’s fork, Idaho. As a pragmatic person, she is obsessed with creating well-researched and practical guides and reviews of the best fishing methods and gear.
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