What are Polarized Sunglasses?

You’ve probably heard of polarized sunglasses before, but maybe you’re wondering how they actually work and what they do. We’re sure you have a number of questions about these unique sunglasses and their benefits, so check out all the information below.

What Are Polarized Sunglasses?

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Benefits of Polarized Lenses

So why are polarized lenses so awesome? We’re so glad you asked. The benefits of polarized lenses are many, because they have a special coating that helps reduce the glare from reflective surfaces. A glare is caused when the sun’s rays reflect off a solid surface or water. Because polarized lenses are treated with that special chemical film that neutralizes the glare, objects are much clearer and the harmful effects of glare (and light in general) on the eyes are reduced.

How Polarization Works

The sun’s rays reflect in every direction, so when a ray hits a flat surface, the reflected light shines back at your eye and is magnified, causing glare (and there’s that word “glare” again). Glare is no fun, because it reduces your depth perception, distorts your view and colors, and can even temporarily blind you!

Regular sunglasses only reduce the amount of light that is transmitted through the lens horizontally and vertically. Polarized lenses are the only way to eliminate the glare while still blocking the harmful UV rays that traditional sunglasses block. The chemical polarization filter on the sunglass lens contains molecules that are aligned horizontally and absorb horizontal light waves, while still allowing vertical rays to pass through. Polarized lenses absorb light waves traveling in any direction other than vertically. Because the transmitted light travels in one direction, the glare is eliminated.

Types of Polarized Lenses

.75 mm polarized lenses

These polarized lenses are made from thin sheets of film and are most ideal when impact resistance is not going to be a factor. The .75 mm lenses are appropriate for most casual sports, where resistance to breakage isn’t crucial.

1.1 mm polarized lenses

These polarized lenses are made with thicker sheets of film. They offer more impact resistance than .75 mm polarized lenses, but they have the same polarizing layer. Even though 1.1 mm film is thicker, these sunglasses do not offer better glare reduction or higher polarization. Typically, the added thickness makes them more expensive.

Tinted Lenses vs. Polarized Lenses

While tinted sunglasses will reduce brightness, they don’t remove harsh glare like polarized lenses do. Don’t let the darker lenses fool you into thinking they offer more protection from UV rays, either. The darkness of the lens does not accurately represent the lenses’ ability to block UV rays. Always check the label to see if it indicates UV protection. Also, remember that dark sunglasses without UV protection will cause more damage to your eyes than not wearing sunglasses at all. The dark tint can cause the pupil to dilate, letting more UV rays into the inner part of the eye.

Sports and Polarized Lenses

Because polarized sunglasses are designed to help reduce the glare from surfaces like water, snow, and glass, they have become quite a thing for sports, driving, and water activities.

For years, boaters and fishermen have reaped the most benefits out of polarized sunglasses. In the past few years, however, these benefits have been embraced by a variety of other outdoor sports enthusiasts and those who enjoy general outdoor recreation. Aside from boaters, people that benefit most from polarized sunglasses include skiers, golfers, bikers, and joggers. If you need a pair of sports lenses, check ours out here.

However, there are some instances when using polarized sunglasses may not be beneficial or even safe. There is debate about whether or not using polarized lenses during downhill skiing is a safe practice. Some experts say the polarization reduces the glare caused by the sun’s rays reflecting off the snow, while others warn that using polarized lenses may reduce a skier’s ability to distinguish between regular snow and more dangerous conditions such as icy patches. Driving is also potentially dangerous with polarized sunglasses. As always, approach extreme conditions of rain, snow, ice, and sleet with caution.

How Can You Tell If Your Lenses are Polarized?

Easy! Check out our awesome polarization test right here! It’ll give you all the information you need to figure out if you’ve got polarized lenses or not. And if you don’t, check out our selection here.