When you spend time by the pool or at the beach, you may notice light glare reflected into your eyes from water or flat surfaces — even when wearing a high-quality pair of sunglasses. For some, this glare can cause pain and discomfort and can sometimes lead to short-term visual impairment.

Polarising or polarised sunglasses can help to reduce the impact of glare on the eyes. To help you understand if polarising sunglasses might be right for you, we’ll take a closer look at how they work to reduce glare and protect your eyes from the sun.

How do polarising sunglasses reduce glare to protect your eyes?

Polarising lenses contain a special chemical layer which acts as a filter for light. The molecules of this layer are arranged to partially block some of the light from passing through the lens. Much like a shutter blind, they only let light through the gaps in-between the molecules. This means that only light rays that approach your eyes vertically can fit through those openings, and horizontal light waves reflected from the sea or smooth sand will be blocked. As a result, the image you see with polarising lenses is a bit darker than usual, but objects look clearer, and details are easier to see.

When not to wear polarising sunglasses

There are a few instances when polarising sunglasses are not suitable to wear. For instance, you may have difficulty seeing images on LCD (liquid crystal display) screens when wearing polarising lenses — such as car dashboards, mobile phones, televisions and some watches.

Who would benefit from wearing polarising sunglasses?

There are several advantages of polarising lenses, especially for expats who spend a lot of time around water. Light glare reflected from water can dazzle your eyes, temporarily creating bright spots in your vision. Whether you love fishing in the sea or relaxing by the pool, polarising sunglasses can reduce this glare from the water — making it easier for you to get on with the activities you enjoy.


Alongside day-to-day use, polarising lenses can also be beneficial for those who experience sensitivity to light — also known as photophobia. If you have photophobia, polarising lenses can be a useful addition to reduce the impact of sunlight on your eyes. It can occur as a stand-alone condition or can be associated with other eye conditions such as cataracts.


If you have a cataract, polarising sunglasses may also be a good option to prevent eye strain and reduce glare. A cataract may make light from the sun seem too bright or dazzling. Polarising and tinted lenses may help to reduce some of this glare for people with cataracts. These lenses may not work for all types of cataracts, so it’s important to ask your optometrist for advice on your specific condition.

Discover polarising sunglasses

At Specsavers Opticas, we provide expert eye care advice, helping you keep your eyes healthy and protected from the sun. Just visit your nearest store to talk with one of our English-speaking opticians, or book in for an eye test. For more information on protecting your eyes in Spain, visit our expat advice hub.

At Specsavers Opticas, we offer a fully comprehensive experience for British expats, providing the same quality service you’d expect in the UK.