Confused about the different types of swim goggle lenses? Here’s a detailed look at every type of swim goggle lens so that you can find the one that is perfect for you.
Swim goggles come in a huge variety of sizes, materials, colors, and yup… lenses!
Which can make a difficult decision ever trickier.
After all, choosing the best swim goggles for you is hard enough. Sorting through all of the different types of head straps, adjustable nose bridges, peripheral vision, gasket material, drag profile, and much more.
Fortunately, choosing a goggle lens is much more straightforward.
Especially when you have a good understanding of the different types and which lenses are best for specific situations.
Here’s everything you need to know about choosing the right swim goggle lenses for you.
Clear swim goggle lens
Want super X-ray vision at the pool? Maximum brightness?
Clear goggle lenses are your best friend in this scenario.
A clear lens allows the maximum amount of light to pass to your eyes, making these types of lenses best suited for darker, indoor swim pools.
Some clear lens swim goggles offer a UV coating that can induce some reflection, they won’t help reduce glare or brightness when swimming outdoors.
Best for: Darker and indoor pools.
Prescription swim goggle lens
There are a lot of reasons you should wear swim goggles, not the least is that they help you accurately see the environment around you.
For a long time, this clarity wasn’t available to the countless people who use corrective lenses on the dry side of the pool.
Prescription swim goggles are now available in a decent range of goggle types and a range of diopters.
Most prescription swim goggles come with a clear lens (some brands, like the Speedo HydroPure pictured below, also have smoke or blue lenses), which does limit the range of lens tints available, but something is better than nothing in this case.
Best for: Swimmers with a prescription
Mirrored swim goggle lens
Mirrored swim goggles are a long-time personal favorite of mine.
Most, if not all of my swim goggles since my early days of swimming have been mirrored.
They simply look badass.
In more practical terms, mirrored goggle lenses reflect light away from the eyes and turn down the brightness of the sun and bright pool lights.
They also do a great job at reducing glare (but not as effective as polarized lenses, which we will look at next).
That said, like any kind of darker lens—and this goes for smoke and polarized lenses as well—this kind of tint can make it harder to see in darker pools.
Best for: Bright and outdoor pools and psyching out the competition on race day
Polarized swim goggle lens
Spend a lot of time swimming outdoors? (Lucky!)
Fed up with squinting from the sun’s glare bouncing off the surface of the water? (Fair enough!)
Swim goggles with a polarized lens are your best bet.
They almost completely eliminate the glare (up to 99% according to the folks at TYR) that happens from the sun while churning up and down the lane.
This reduces eye strain and also protects your eyeballs from the sun’s rays.
Unlike mirrored or metallic goggle lenses, I’ve always found that polarized lenses are a little better for darker, indoor swim pools.
Best for: Reducing glare when swimming outside
Smoke swim goggle lens
Another entry in the “turn down the brightness” category of swim goggle lens is our old friend and pal, smoke.
As you can guess, they are designed to reduce brightness when swimming in outdoor pools or the stadium-lit indoor swim pool.
Most decent swim goggle makers construct all of their goggles with some sort of UV coating, so smoke goggles are also ideal for sunny days swimming outside.
How smokey the lenses are depends on the goggle manufacturer, with some going nearly black-out while others produce lenses that have a light touch of smoke.
With the exception of really dimly lit indoor pools (my high school team’s pool was an excellent example of this—orange overhead lighting and no natural light), smoke goggles are great for just about every kind of pool environment.
Best for: Bright indoor pools and outdoor swimming
Colored swim goggles lenses
Finally, we have a mixed bag of lens colors that include blue, pink, orange, green, red and yellow.
Colored lenses are a little rarer on pool decks and in the water, but swimmers who choose them tend to stick with them.
Colored goggle lenses help make things around you “pop,” making them a solid choice for swimmers who want more contrast in what they are seeing in the water.
Red, orange, yellow, or pink lenses are a good choice for dimly-lit pools as they can help to increase the contrast of the environment around you.
Blue or green lenses, like smoke, are good all-environment lens colors that can boost brightness and in some cases can also reduce glare.
Colored lenses are also available on mirrored goggles. The TYR Rocket Sockets, for example, have a mirrored and red google lens.
Best for: Increasing contrast
The Bottom Line
We made it.
We laughed. We cried. We learned all about google lenses and what kind you should get.
At the end of the day, swim goggles are a tool to help you swim better, swim safer, and to get the most from your time spent in the pool.
For more information on swimming goggles, check out these other guides:
🏊 Why You Should Wear Swim Goggles When Lap Swimming. Swim goggles protect your eyes and help you swim better. Here is a deeper look at the benefits of wearing swim goggles at the pool.
Beau Cormier is a former NCAA I swimmer, US Open National finalist, and swim nerd. When not swimming or working for a data company, you can find him running the trails of the Pacific Northwest with his wife and dogs.