The 6 best polarized sunglasses to reduce eye stain

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More and more people are spending time outdoors these days, and as it turns out, going outside does more than just break up of the monotony of life amid a pandemic. Immersing yourself in nature can increase your oxygen levels, which in turn gives you a welcome blast of serotonin (aka the happy hormone). But you need to be properly outfitted so that nature doesn't get the better of you, and that's where a pair of polarized shades comes in. They block light to reduce eye strain when you're staring down at reflective surfaces — and the best polarized sunglasses eliminate glare completely while blocking 100% of UV rays.

The darker the lens, the more anti-glare the pair will be, but darker doesn't automatically equal more UV protection. Look for polarized shades with a UV400 rating, which means they're capable of blocking 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Some higher-end pairs might even tout their ability to block UVA, UVB, and UVC radiation. If you want a truly indestructible pair of shades, look for ones that are made of durable TR90 frames to withstand getting washed down rapids or crunched on a black diamond run.

From there, finding the right sunglasses for you will largely come down to your aesthetic preference. Styles can range from laidback aviators and retro rectangular frames to utilitarian wraparound shades. Ahead you'll find the best polarized sunglasses on Amazon. There's a pair for every budget.

1. The best aviators

These classic aviators come backed by a major Amazon following, with nearly 10,000 reviewers weighing in on the shades' quality. This polarized pair comes with complete UV protection, a lightweight metal frame, and silicone nose pads for comfort. Choose from various lens colors, two different lens shapes (there's the round lens featured here and a more angular square lens), and two lens sizes. One satisfied shopper commented, "Great shades for walking or driving around on a sunny day. Light weight so they never feel uncomfortable on the nose. Just check the measurements to make sure the size you order works for you."

  • Available colors: 10

2. The best for sports

If you're planning on wearing polarized sunglasses for high-octane activity, these sports sunglasses will get the job done. Not only do they come with polarized lenses offering complete protection from UVA, UVB, and UVC radiation, they also feature an indestructible TR90 frame for wear-em-forever longevity. Choose from six different lens colors to best serve your sporting adventure, whether its yellow lenses for workouts at dawn or red-coated gray lenses for peak-sunlight cycling.

  • Available colors: 10

3. The best minimalist sunglasses

If you're looking for a polarized pair of minimalist shades, these semi-rimless ones check all the boxes. They boast a UV400 rating, a lightweight yet durable TR90 frame, and rubber temple grips to keep them from sliding. You even get a mini screwdriver to adjust the metal hinges for an ultra-custom fit. One Amazon reviewer noted, "These sunglasses are very lightweight and [feel] good when wearing them. The flexible sides are definitely a plus if you are hard on them."

  • Available colors: 2

4. The best on a budget

You're not going to find a better pair of polarized sunglasses for this under-$15 price tag. With UV400 protection, lightweight metal legs paired with a durable resin frame, and even and a protective hard case for storage, you get a lot of bang for your buck. "I've fallen victim to spur of the moment purchases at gas stations and not only do you not get the boatload of extras when you do that, but you get a pair that feel flimsy and hurt the bridge of your nose. The Merry's are extremely comfortable and feel like I could headbang to Megadeath and still not have them fall off. (I still won't be listening to Megadeath anytime soon, however.)," one fan concluded of these sleek shades.

  • Available colors: 10

5. The best wood frames

These unisex polarized shades from cloudfield come equipped with polarized lenses with an anti-scratch coating and two layers of UV coating for complete protection. The handcrafted bamboo frames won't weigh you down either. One reviewer noted, "They are also lightweight and extremely comfortable. They float, so when I first got them and went on vacation, I wasn't afraid to wear them while kayaking."

  • Available colors: 12

6. The best designer shades

If you're ready to make an investment in a pair of polarized shades that you'll have for years, these Maui Jim's Kawiki sunglasses are worth their hefty price tag. The brand's proprietary lens technology blocks glare and UV rays (it's the only pick on this list that's earned a seal of recommendation from the Skin Cancer Foundations), and elevates the crispness of your surroundings for a high-def effect. The anti-scratch lenses have a gold tint for even more contrast and the lightweight nylon frames offer comfy all-day wear. One reviewer noted, "I love these things. The nicest pair of glasses I've owned and worth every penny.They are great for driving in all weather conditions, particularly on cloudy/overcast days because the polarization and high-quality lenses brighten things up so much and provide excellent contrast and depth."

  • Available colors: 3

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