Are your sunglasses polarized or not? If they are, do they help you avoid glares from shiny cars and lakes? That’s their intention, so I hope so. But did you ever wonder how they work? What is it about them that makes them polarized and what does that even mean? I’m here to tell you. No worries.
What is polarized light?
Light waves come from the sun and artificial light sources. When this light is aligned into planes(s) of direction, (horizontal, vertical) it is said to be polarized. Polarization is when you look at a lake and even if it’s clear, you can’t see below the surface because of the reflected glare.
The glare from polarized light is why polarized filters work. A polarized filter only passes light through that is opposite of it. All other light is absorbed. Polarized filters are made of a chemical film that is attached to plastic or glass lenses. This chemical is composed of molecules that naturally align parallel to one another. When applied to the lenses, the molecules create a filter that absorbs any light matching their alignment.
Most of the polarized light you come into contact with comes from horizontal surfaces like highways and water. Therefore, the polarization in sunglasses is fixed at an angle to only allow vertical polarized light to enter.
Tadah! That’s how it works. For more information on polarization or any aspect of sunglasses that you’re interested in, visit howstuffworks.com/sunglass5. That’s where I got all my knowledge!