When choosing sunglasses, the biggest choice people face is polarized vs non-polarized. Most people know that polarized lenses are better, but they aren’t sure why. When making health-related decisions, especially regarding your eyes, having all the information is helpful.
What is polarization?
Polarization is a technique used to ensure that light can only pass through a lens in specific orientations. Light from the sun travels in waves and reflects off surfaces. The majority of reflected light bounces off the ground surface before traveling at an angle upwards again . Polarization minimizes the effect of this horizontally reflected light by only allowing vertical light rays to pass through the lens. Polarized lenses reduce the amount of reflected light visible to a person.
How are lenses made to be polarized?
During the lens-making process, a chemical solution is applied in specific directions. The molecules in that solution prevent light from passing through the lens in certain orientations. The polarization is aligned so that light is allowed to pass through the lens only vertically and not horizontally.
What are the health and visual benefits of polarization?
- Sharpens vision by blocking reflected light rays
- Reduces glare from reflected surfaces
- Improves clarity around water, snow, sand, and concrete
- Decreases color distortion
- Increases contrast
- Lessens eyestrain associated with glare
- Improves safety by making vision clearer
Why do fishermen always wear polarized lenses?
If you weren’t wearing polarized glasses, you would see the reflection of the sky from the water. This is because water is very reflective. If you switch to polarized lenses, you would be able to see the water itself and the fish beneath it much more clearly!
Why are polarized sunglasses recommended for snow?
Similar to water, snow also reflects almost all light rays which can profoundly reduce the clarity of your vision. Polarized lenses provide remarkably sharper vision in snowy conditions.
Is there any time polarized lenses should NOT be worn?
Polarized lenses do not work well around liquid crystal displays (LCDs). People should also not wear polarized lenses for night driving or in very cloudy situations. Polarized lenses are also not recommended for pilots as this interferes with visualizing the digital instrumentation.
So, what should I do?
In most cases, polarized sunglasses generally are a better choice than non-polarized sunglasses. Polarization sharpens vision, reduces glare, lessens eyestrain, increases contrast, and can improve safety. If you spend time around bodies of water (lakes, ocean, rivers, etc) or snow then polarization is a must. And for parents, polarization may increase the likelihood that your child wears their sunglasses because polarized lenses make their eyes see and feel better than non-polarized lenses.
See our polarized Snappies here!