You may have heard of polarized sunglasses lenses but realize that they can be anywhere from $50 to $150 more than regular sunlglasses. Are they worth the extra cost? Do they really provide any benefits over a regular pair of tinted sunglasses?
What is a polarized sunglasses lens? It’s a special filter applied to sunglasses that is designed to protect your eyes from UV radiation, glare, and other harmful light, all the while giving you the clearest possible vision in bright light. They are dark so you can not were them at night. A lot of people don’t realize that a regular pair of sunglasses just makes things darker, which in turn makes your vision less clear. With the lenses being dark in a regular sunglass, your pupil dilates (or opens wider) to allow more light in so that you can see better (you can’t see in the dark!). With your pupil being dilated, your vision is less clear and you are really allowing more UV radiation to come in! Usually a polarized lens is not as dark as a regularly tinted lens, and the filters in the polarized lens keep that extra light from come into your eye while keeping your vision sharp. Polarized lenses also reflect glare so that you are getting your sharpest vision. Harmful radiation that is normally reflected and intensified by snow, water, glass or other reflective materials is cut by as much as 99%. It’s also been claimed that polarized lenses can slow down the growth of cataracts in the eyes by a few years.
Here are some demos showing how the polarized lenses help clear up your vision…
Maui Jim Demo
Polarized Lens demo on Car Windshield
Polarized Lens demo in Car
Many people (myself included) will not leave home without their polarized sunglasses. Fisherman love them as the lenses cut the glare on the water allowing them to see right through the water and actually see where the fish are. In most cases you can even get them made in your prescription.
Who should be wearing polarized lenses? Almost everyone should be wearing them outside but especially those who work outside, people who drive a lot, people with light sensitivity, those who have light colored eyes (light-pigmented eyes offer less protection from damaging UV light), and people who have had cataract or any other type of eye surgery. You may know people who have Pterygium (pronounced tur-IJ-ee-um) or Pinguecula (pronounced pin- GWEK-yoo-la) – in Spanish they call it “carnicidad”. It is a growth on the white part of the eye that is common in people who work outdoors; hence you will see it often in farmers, fishermen, and gardeners. Wearing polarized sunglasses can slow down and even prevent those growths.
So is there anyone who should NOT wear polarized lenses? Actually yes. Airplane pilots should not wear them. The equipment in most airplanes is electronic and because of the polarization on the lenses it can distort the way electronic devices look through the lens. That’s why sometimes phones and other electronic devices may seem to have “spots” or wavy lines at certain angles or views. It’s the way the light is filtered through the lens. Skiers and snowboarders have to be careful as well because of the reduced reflections on the snow it can be hard to see where there is thin ice.
All in all, most people will receive a huge benefit when wearing polarized sunglasses.
Justin is a ABO certified licensed Optician. He has been in the optical industry for 8 years in different states and currently manages Optometry by Thanh-Vi Nguyen in La Quinta, CA. Follow his blog at www.laquintaeyedoc.com