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Why Polarized Sunglasses Don't Work For Pilots Flying Glass Cockpit Aircraft

by John White |  | 2 comments

Polarized vs Non-Polarized Sunglasses

Polarized Sunglasses vs Non-Polarized Sunglasses

One of the more important tools a pilot has available today are a good pair of sunglasses. But if you are a pilot how do you choose between polarized sunglasses and non-polarized sunglasses? It has been well documented that long exposure to strong ultraviolet light can cause damage to your eyes like cataracts, macular degeneration, pingueculae and pterygia and photokeratitis that can cause temporary vision loss. A number of years ago the FAA even published a safety brochure titled "Sunglasses for Pilots: Beyond the Image". In the article the FAA authors discuss the fact that the strength of uv rays increases by about 5% for every 1,000 foot increase in altitude. For a long time there has been an argument about polarized sunglasses versus non-polarized sunglasses, and the fact is that the only place polarized sunglasses are really effective is when you are on the water of a lake or other large body of water. At all other times non-polarized lenses work best.

Polarized vs Non-Polarized Sunglasses for Flying

My Experience

My experience has shown me that Randolph Aviator sunglasses work best for me when I fly, and the company not only provides an excellent product but also provides spare parts as well. So if you were to break a lens, or some other part of the sunglasses, you don't have to purchase a whole new pair, just the part that you need. Randolph Aviator Sunglasses Matte Chrome Bayonet Temple Gray Lens I sell these sunglasses on this site in the Pilot Store and also at Recently I had occasion to speak with one of my customers, and here is an excerpt of our exchange regarding polarized vs non-polarized sunglasses:
I’m a Delta first officer on the A320 now, going to the A330 in a couple of months. We have CRT’s and not LCD’s so I can see the vertical screens on the panel, but the horizontal ones on the center console black out with polarized lenses and we use those to to any changes to the flight plan like direct-to clearance or alt constraints. Also the windshields in some of our older planes are impossible to see through with polarized glasses, just see rainbow colored blobs. Maybe the layers are starting to delaminate or something. Newer planes don’t seem to have that windshield problem.
Truth is that for any pilot the best pair of sunglasses are non-polarized, and the best I have found are these Randolph Aviator sunglasses. Check them out today at or in our Pilot Store. Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7+ ps: Don't forget to sign up for our newsletter "All Things Aviation" here!

Comments (2)

  • Scott Davis on June 24, 2019

    I like AV-Sun’s. They are not polarized and are very good quality. I just purchased their new 180 style and love them. You can see them at

  • JetAviator7 on June 24, 2019


    I am unfamiliar with those sunglasses but very familiar with the Randolph Aviator sunglasses used by military and civilian pilots around the world. They are very substantial and pilots love them!

    I will check out these AV-Suns – always something new to learn.



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