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Are Polarized Sunglasses Right For Me?

Posted by Patricia on

Are Polarized Sunglasses Right For Me?

Boaters and fishermen have been wearing polarized sunglasses for years because of their ability to lessen the amount of reflected glare that comes off of the water surrounding them.

The rest of the population is catching up to these water lovers and realizing that if you spend any amount of time outside in nature then polarized lenses will benefit them as well. Because of this realization, polarized sunglasses have gained an immense amount of popularity these last few years, but still some may be in the dark about what situations polarized lenses are beneficial for, or even know what exactly they are so we will attempt to explain that in this post.

As mentioned earlier, water activity enthusiasts aren’t the only ones who can benefit from the use of these special types of lenses; bikers, golfers, joggers, skiers, and hunters should consider switching their standard shades for some that are polarized because they, more than other people, can really use the extra clarity that they provide by getting rid of unnecessary and distracting glare.

You don’t have to be a nature lover to benefit from reduced glare though, anyone who drives are also an excellent candidate for these types of lenses because the hood of a car is often a long, flat surface and therefore a great area for glare to bounce off of right into your sensitive eyes. Not to mention the road itself usually has glare bouncing off it, as well as the glare that bounces off of other cars around you; polarized lenses reduce this distracting glare so that you can have the clearest, sharpest vision possible.

People who are sensitive to light, and patients who have undergone cataract surgery are especially urged to wear polarized lenses to lessen the amount of bright light that enters their retinas, since this can be particularly uncomfortable and possibly even harmful for them.

How do polarized lenses work?

So now you know who can benefit the most from these special lenses but what makes them work? The light that is reflected off of flat and smooth surfaces is considered “horizontally polarized”.

Basically this just means that the light reflected off of these surfaces travels in a horizontal direction at all once, instead of being scattered in multiple directions and not hitting your retinas all at once.

When these horizontal lights do hit us all at once it creates an uncomfortable, distracting, and at times even dangerous intensity of light known as “glare”.

Sunglasses that have been polarized take this concentrated form of light and scatter it before it hits your eyes so that it is not so bright and you can see more clearly due to a special filter that is added into the lens. This filter is what breaks up the concentration of horizontally polarized light and diffuses it.

Is there any time I shouldn't wear polarized sunglasses?

Before you start wearing polarized lenses everyday though, there are some things to consider, and some exceptions where wearing polarized sunglasses would actually NOT be a good idea. For example, skiers would be advised to remove their polarized glasses when they are skiing downhill because they would not be able to see any icy patches in their way, since the lenses would have diverted the concentrated amount of light reflecting off it away from the skiers eyes, making it invisible and in this case you want an icy patch to be visible so that you can see any hazards that may be coming up in front of you.

Another instance when wearing polarized lenses may not be the best choice is when you are trying to watch any sort of digital screen, such as some screens at gas stations and ATM machines. Even the dashboards of some cars have LED or LCD screens and the lenses would reduce the visibility of the content displayed on these screens.

Polarized lenses may also affect your ability to see your GPS device or even cell phone, depending on what kind of screen it is equipped with.

Pilots and boaters whose instrument panels use LCD displays may also be at a disadvantage if using polarized lenses, and this could be a big problem if they are in an emergency situation and need to be able to look at their screens and make split second decisions. The good news is that the makers of these sorts of devices are aware of the issue and a lot of them have solved the problem by changing their products, however, not all of them have done so yet.

Improvements in polarized lens technology

These are just a few rare occasions however and for the majority of people, especially those involved in outdoor activities and sports greatly benefit from these special lenses. Polarized lenses keep getting better as time goes on too; they now have other features added to them to make the user have an even better viewing experience.

For example, bifocal sunglasses can now also be polarized making them an excellent option for those who need to use bifocals but also enjoying spending time outdoors. Photochromic lenses (also known as transitional lenses due to their ability to change from a light tint indoors to a dark tint when exposed to outdoor light) can now be polarized as well.

So no matter what your hobbies are, be they boating, waterskiing, mountain biking, jogging, driving, skating, etc., consider wearing polarized sunglasses to enhance your activities and have the best, clearest outdoor vision possible.

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