Difference between Reflection and Refraction

Reflection vs. Refraction

What is Difference between Reflection and Refraction? The light can sometimes surprise us. It is thanks to her that we can see the colors, since our eyes only do “interpret” the light. Likewise phenomena related to it such as reflection and refraction occur.

Difference between Reflection and Refraction

If you do not know the difference between reflection and refraction, read the explanation we have for you.


When the light comes on a surface, a part of it changes direction and bounces (returns to the same direction from where it came out); this is what is known as reflection. The ray coming out of the surface (which is bounced) is called the reflected ray.

This not only occurs with light, but also with sound waves. But in the case of light, there are two types: secular and diffuse. Specular reflection occurs when light is reflected at the same angle, while diffuse reflection occurs when light is reflected on a rough surface; is dispersed in all directions.


The images that are observed through the glass, among other objects are the product of refraction. When invisible or white light passes through a transparent material such as water or glass, it changes direction and passes obliquely between two media.

Mirrors use reflection, while lenses use refraction. When it enters a new medium in an angular way, the light decelerates and this change of speed causes that the double ray or change of direction.

Key Differences between reflection and refraction

  • Reflection occurs when light falls on any surface and a part of it is sent back to the same medium from which it came out, whereas refraction generally deforms the image; depending on the angle at which it reaches another plane or surface.
  • In the case of reflection, light travels in the same medium; while in refraction it travels from one medium to another.
  • Mirrors are an example of reflection, while lenses are an example of refraction.