When selecting which pair of goggles you want to buy, you might be overwhelmed by the sheer number of options available. That is why, to simplify things a little bit for you, this article will only focus on mirrored swim goggles vs. clear goggles (the standard).
You might be wondering if it is worth it to get a specialized pair of goggles over a standard clear one, especially if you are just a recreational swimmer. You also might be wondering if mirrored swim goggles provide much of a benefit over a clear one or is it just a fad?
When deciding between a pair of mirrored swim goggles vs. clear, you need to consider if you will be swimming in a bright environment or not. If you are swimming outdoors during the day where the sun is shining and glare is an issue, mirrored swim goggles are the far superior option than a clear one. However, on overcast days or in a more dimly lit environment, mirrored swim goggles would be far too dark and a clear pair of goggles are better-suited.
There are more considerations to make than that, and for the rest of the article, I will go more in-depth on the pros and cons of a pair of mirrored swim goggles vs. clear.
Consider your swimming environment
We all know how goggles can protect your eyes from debris and bacteria in the water, but today our focus is on another way they can protect your eyes: from glare or bright lights.
If you only swim at an indoor pool, you never need to worry about how bright the light will be, so standard swimming goggles will do just fine. They may not hold up as well if you are swimming outdoors, especially for open water swimming, where the sun can be in your eyes and sunlight can reflect off of the water’s surface.
As soon as you decide to swim outdoors, you have to consider getting a pair of “dark” lens goggles, and mirrored swim goggles are very popular for this purpose. For the sake of simplicity,
Pros and cons of wearing mirrored swim goggles
Mirrored swim goggles are an optimal choice for outdoor swimming because, like a mirror, they reflect light and reduce the amount of light reaching your eyes.
You can get mirrored swim glasses in a variety of colors. For maximum sun protection, look for darker tints on the lenses such as blue or silver which gets rid of any reverberation and reduces eye strain.
Mirrored swim glasses don’t have to be tinted and this is better for providing increased visibility in dim light such as early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
If you wear a pair of mirrored swim goggles with dark lenses on an overcast day, or for indoor swimming, everything will be much darker than normal and your visibility will suffer because of it.
To better understand what it’s like, imagine wearing sunglasses indoors. You can still see but if the indoor area is already dimly lit, wearing mirrored swim goggles on top makes it even darker for you.
Keep in mind that mirrored lenses are reflective but they do not decrease glare. Glare is when light reflects off the surface of the water into your eyes. You can get mirrored lenses that are also polarized to reduce glare and protect your eyes from the sunlight even more.
Some people prefer wearing mirrored goggles, especially tinted ones, solely because it can obscure their eyes from others’ view. People who are self-conscious or who just think covering their eyes looks cool should consider the extra privacy this can give them.
Pros and cons of wearing clear swim goggles
Clear swim goggles have standard, non-reflective lenses that are… wait for it… clear. These are probably the swim goggles that you’re most used to, so you might be wondering if it’s worth buying a new pair of mirrored swim goggles instead. Do you need it?
The main benefit of clear swim goggles is that they are perfect for dimly lit environments such as an indoor pool, or when it is an overcast, cloudy day for outdoor swimming.
The transparency of clear swim goggles lets in the maximum amount of light, so you can see things as your eye would normally perceive them, rather than it being a bit dimmer.
On top of that, while clear swim goggles do have a UV protective coating, they don’t reduce brightness or glare so you need to be wary when swimming outdoors.
This means that your eyes may be overexposed to the sunlight and this can cause significant eye strain on a bright and sunny day.
How can I tell if my lenses are mirrored or not?
It should be pretty obvious whether you’re wearing a pair of mirrored swim goggles or a clear one. If the lenses are highly reflective like a mirror, and you can even see your reflection in it, then it’s a mirrored lens.
Mirrored lenses also obscure one’s eyes, which is a highly sought after benefit for people who really like their privacy.
Clear lenses are, well, clear. You can easily see through them and others can also see through them into your eyes. Nothing is reflecting or reducing the light that passes through it, hence why it’s so transparent.
Which one should you wear?
The simple answer to this question is you should wear the swimming goggles you most prefer. Whichever one you think looks the best and gives you the most enjoyable swimming experience is the best one.
To narrow things down even further, here are some questions you should be asking yourself: Do you swim mostly indoors or outdoors? Does your swimming environment have bright lighting or dim lighting? If swimming outdoors, what is the weather like where you live? Will you be training with them or using them in competitions?
Obviously, the best solution is to own a pair of mirrored swim goggles and a standard clear one so you have the most options.
However, if it’s down to one or the other, then it’s mostly a matter of swimming indoors vs. outdoors. People who swim outdoors more often will likely prefer mirrored swim goggles, and those who swim exclusively indoors will probably prefer clear swimming goggles.
An exception to this is some indoor swimmers like to hide their eyes, so they wear mirrored swim goggles indoors as well. Again, whichever one makes you happy is the best option.