Mirrored or Polarised Goggles

Mirrored or Polarised Goggles

Updated: 17th June 2019

One of the questions we get asked most often is what is the difference between polarised and mirrored goggles and which is the best?

Swans revolutionised the swimming world when they introduced the worlds first polarised swimming goggle over a decade ago but we still get asked this question all the time, this article should help you choose which is best for you, and your swims. The image above is a real photo showing the view through a pair of Swans polarised OWS.

See our range of mirrored, polarised and photochromatic goggles for Open water and triathlon swimming

So, what is the difference between mirrored and polarised lenses?

Mirrored lenses reflect light away from your eyes giving a darker view. On bright sunny days this gives us a shaded and more comfortable view through the goggles. However on darker or overcast days light will still be reflected away from your eyes, which can result in a view that is overly-dark.

Polarised lenses cut out light which has been reflected off flat surfaces, such as water. The image above shows a bright sunny day, the surface of the water is almost mirror like, and with no definition. Light is being reflected off the surface of the water making it extremely harsh and full of glare. This glaring light causes our eyes to strain and results in poor visibility. If we are trying to sight other swimmers, a landmark or a turn buoy it becomes very tricky and distances also become more difficult to judge. The polarised lens shown in the photo has reduced the amount of reflected light to a minimum.

Because the polarised lens is only cutting out the reflected light, on darker days your view remains unchanged, and more natural.

The image above shows 3 photos.

- On the left, the original photo taken with a standard camera. No filters or editing.
- In the middle image a pair of Swans mirrored goggles has been placed over the camera lens - you can just make out the frame of the goggle in the corner of the image, with no editing or additional filters
- Finally on the right a pair of Swans polarised goggles placed over the lens- again you can just see the frame in the corner.

The mirrored lens has removed some of the glare from the surface, and the view is slightly darker. The polarised lens has removed almost all the glare, you can even see details on the sea bed.

There are days, when it is nice and sunny, but there is little glare on the surface of the water, perhaps when the sun is high in the sky. On such days the polarising lens will not offer much protection, as they only filter  light which has reflected. On such a day, the mirrored lens would be a better choice, offering a more comfortable, shaded view against bright conditions.

So, neither lens is necessarily  is better than the other. They provide different options for different light conditions on different days.

A final note.

Many brands often apply their polarising filters to the outside of the goggle lens while Swans polarising filters are sandwiched within lens. This makes the Swans polarised lenses far more robust and less susceptible to scratches and damage. Not all polarised goggles will reduce the glaring light in the same way, Swans polarised goggles have a polarisation ratio of 90%, while other brands will usually be much lower.