What Are Polarized Sunglasses?
Polarized vs. Non-Polarized Sunglasses: Are They Worth it?
Polarized sunglasses have been used by fishermen for years to help reduce the glare on the surrounding water. They are now becoming more popular with active people who spend time outdoors, such as golfers, snowboarders, volleyball players, and runners.
When it comes to buying sunglasses, the price can fluctuate dramatically based on whether or not the lenses are polarized. This might lead you to believe that polarized is better for your eyes. But are they really?
In this article, the discussion of polarized sunglasses goes further than the price difference. You will also get a quick lesson on optics, and how light can play a big role in making polarized sunglasses essential.
Benefits of Wearing Polarized Lenses
There are many benefits that come with wearing polarized lenses, and they mostly depend on your lifestyle.
Polarized lenses are invaluable in high-glare situations, such as driving, boating, snowboarding, golfing, and fishing. A pair of high quality polarized sunglasses are effective in modifying incoming light, giving you relief from glare.
Glare caused by brightness or high-intensity light can be discomforting, often causing your eyes to squint. While polarized glasses spare your eyes from too much sunlight, they also reduce headaches and wrinkles caused by squinting for extended periods of time.
Polarized sunglasses can also make the world look more colorful and visible. For example, when you look at a lake or the surface of a body of water with polarized sunglasses on, the water will look clearer and more transparent. With polarized glasses, you can see through the surface of the water.
Why Do Fishermen Use Polarized Sunglasses?
Who Should Wear Polarized Lenses?
Athletes prefer wearing polarized sunglasses over regular sunglasses because they believe that the reduction of light increases their performance. With polarized sunglasses, they are able to avoid intense glare, allowing them to see more clearly. In spite of the hefty price tag that comes with these sunglasses, athletes understand the need for an edge when it comes to performance, whatever it may be. While polarized glasses are great for the layperson, if you perform any of the following activities regularly, you may want to invest in a pair of polarized glasses:
- Boating/Fishing: Polarized sunglasses can selectively eliminate the reflection from the surface of the water. This gives fishermen the ability to see fish that are swimming deep in the water.
- Snowboarding/Skiing: Polarized lenses are helpful in reducing the extreme glare that is caused by the sun reflecting off of the white snow.
- Sand Volleyball: Volleyball players appreciate the blockage of intense light glare, as they are constantly taking on the sun’s rays from every angle. Also, the light color of the sand can be blinding when the sun reflects off of its surface.
- Driving: Polarized lenses are especially helpful while you are driving a car. The bright reflections on the road or on other cars can be very dangerous and harmful. Polarized sunglasses will eliminate most reflections and glares.
Another important advantage of polarized sunglasses is that they protect those with very sensitive eyes. So, if you have naturally sensitive eyes, or have just undergone eye surgery, polarized lenses may be extremely helpful.
What Is a Polarized Lightwave?
Let's quickly review the subject of optics, physics, and how it relates to our eyes. Light consists of waves that vibrate and travel in different directions. However, when light waves from the sun hit the surface of a lake, they vibrate and radiate outwards in a uniform, horizontal direction. These intense waves are called “polarized lightwaves,” and they cause glare. This is why surfaces like water, cement, pavement, sand, and snow appear so bright.
When you look at a lake, the glare that is reflected off of the surface of the water is the light that does not make it into the water, but instead bounces off. Polarized lenses are fixed at an angle that only allows vertically polarized light to enter. When you wear polarized sunglasses, the lenses block all horizontal light waves. So, the amount of light entering your eyes is cut in half.
Buying Polarized Sunglasses
The most important thing to consider when purchasing polarized sunglasses is to make sure that the pair blocks UVA and UVB rays. The method used to create a polarized lens can affect both the optical quality and cost of the sunglasses. The different types of polarized lenses available on the market are listed below:
- Inexpensive styles have the polarizing filter applied as an external chemical film coating.
- More expensive styles (mainly for sports) have the polarizing filters placed in between the layers of lens.
- The newest technology combines the lens material with the polarizing filter. This allows the two layers to bond without the need for adhesives. This high-end method yields more sustainable and durable sunglasses with exceptional optical quality.
Beware of Fakes
Remember that just because you see a sticker labeled “polarized,” this doesn’t necessarily mean the glasses have real polarized lenses. The following is a quick test you can perform at the store to make sure a pair of glasses is really polarized.
- Take two pairs of polarized sunglasses and place them perpendicularly against each other. Look through the lenses and, if you see complete darkness, they are real. If you can see through them, they are not polarized.
- Another simple test is to look through the polarized sunglasses at the reflection of any object in a window. Now tilt your head slowly clockwise. The intensity of the reflection should change with respect to what you see through the window. The glare off the surface should brighten as you tilt your head.
When purchasing polarized glasses, you can get a better deal from reputable sellers online. As with any purchase on eBay, Amazon, or any other online store, always check the seller’s reputation. How many sunglasses have they sold? How many satisfied customers do they have? Is there a return policy? Where is the seller located? If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Remember, high-quality polarized sunglass will have a steeper price tag due to their valuable characteristics.
In conclusion, polarized lenses are a great choice if you enjoy certain types of sports such as fishing, golf, or skiing, or if you are simply sensitive to glare or would like to see the world in a new light. Your comfort levels will increase dramatically, as will the health and protection of your eyes when you begin to wear polarized sunglasses. If you ask me, they are just as important as a good snowboard, golf club, or car. A high-quality pair of polarized sunglasses is well worth the extra money.
Questions & Answers
© 2012 Kim Lam