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What Are Polarized Sunglasses & Are They Better?

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Pair of sunglasses in the sand.

In the world of fashion, eyewear accessories are essential parts of a look that define personal style and enhance visual comfort. 

Among such essentials, sunglasses stand out, not just for their chic appeal, but also for their protective features. Have you heard of polarized sunglasses? Are they better than regular, non-polarized sunglasses?

The primary benefit of polarized lenses is their ability to filter out scattered light rays bouncing off any and all surfaces. By doing so, polarized lenses reduce glare and enhance contrast for better visibility. This makes polarized sunglasses especially critical for driving, golfing, skiing, fishing, or any outdoor activities where glare can be an issue. 

Polarized sunglasses can be paired with your prescription determined from your routine eye exam.

What Are Polarized Sunglasses?

Polarized sunglasses are specialized eyewear designed to reduce glare from all surfaces, especially water, snow, and glass. Unlike regular sunglasses, which only reduce the overall amount of light that reaches your eyes, polarized lenses allow only vertical light to pass through  and block all other light waves coming in from different angles. This results in significantly clearer and more comfortable vision.

The Science Behind Polarized Lenses

The technology behind polarized lenses involves a special chemical coating that creates openings in the lenses, filtering out the horizontal light waves that result in glare. Think of it as a vertical Venetian blind that only lets in useful light. This elimination of glare makes polarized sunglasses particularly effective for activities like driving, fishing and skiing.

The Immediate Benefits of Polarized Sunglasses

You can immediately notice the difference polarized lenses make. Colors appear more vibrant, contrasts are sharper, and visual clarity is enhanced. Your eyes will feel less strained, making polarized glasses a critical companion for outdoor adventures or regular day-to-day activities.

Why 100% UVA & UVB Protection Is Important

While polarized lenses are excellent at reducing glare, your sunglasses should also offer 100% UVA & UVB protection. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can cause significant damage to your eyes over time. Fortunately, polarized lenses also offer UV protection, ensuring that harmful rays of light are filtered away from your eyes, protecting them from potential long-term damage.

Understanding UVA & UVB Rays

UVA rays penetrate deep into the eye and can contribute to long-term damage, such as cataracts. UVB rays, on the other hand, are responsible for immediate eye damage, like photokeratitis, which is essentially a sunburn on the eye. Both types of rays are harmful and are present even on cloudy days.

Wearing sunglasses with adequate UV protection reduces the risk of developing eye conditions like cataracts, macular degeneration, and pterygium. It’s a simple yet effective way to take care of your eyes while still looking stylish.

Short vs. long-term damage:

  • Short-term exposure to high levels of UV radiation can result in photokeratitis, also known as “snow blindness.” Symptoms include redness, tearing, swelling, and a gritty feeling in the eyes. Although these symptoms are temporary, they can be very uncomfortable.
  • Prolonged exposure to UV rays can lead to more severe conditions, including cataracts and macular degeneration. Cataracts cloud the eye’s lens, leading to blurred vision and, if untreated, blindness. Macular degeneration affects the retina, leading to loss of central vision and severely impacting daily activities like reading and driving.

When Wearing Polarized Sunglasses Is Useful

Polarized sunglasses aren’t just for looks; they also offer many practical benefits. Knowing when to wear them can enhance your comfort and visual clarity, making your outdoor experiences more enjoyable.

Outdoor Sports & Activities

Polarized lenses are especially beneficial for outdoor sports and activities. Whether you’re skiing down a mountain, fishing in a lake, or playing beach volleyball, these sunglasses reduce glare and improve contrast, allowing you to see more clearly and react faster.

Driving in Bright Conditions

Driving in bright sunlight can be hazardous due to glare reflecting off the road, other vehicles, and surrounding surfaces. Polarized sunglasses can significantly reduce this glare, improving your visibility and reaction time. This makes them a valuable accessory for road safety.

Everyday Use

Even for everyday use, polarized sunglasses offer enhanced comfort. Walking around town, spending a day at the beach, or enjoying a picnic in the park—all these activities become more enjoyable when you’re not squinting against the sun’s glare.

When Polarized Sunglasses Might Not Be Ideal

While polarized sunglasses are highly beneficial in many situations, there are times when they might not be the best choice. Understanding these scenarios can help you decide when to opt for regular sunglasses instead.

Low-Light Conditions

Polarized lenses can sometimes reduce visibility in low-light conditions. If you’re driving at dusk or dawn, or if the weather is overcast, non-polarized lenses might offer better clarity.

Viewing LCD Screens

Polarized sunglasses can make it difficult to see LCD screens clearly. If you’re checking your phone, GPS device, or digital watch, you might notice a rainbow-like effect or dimmed display. In these cases, taking off your sunglasses or switching to non-polarized lenses can help.

Pilots and Certain Professionals

Pilots and professionals who rely on reading instruments or screens might prefer non-polarized lenses. Polarized sunglasses can interfere with the visibility of instrument panels, which can be problematic in critical situations.

Get Stylish Sun Protection

Polarized sunglasses offer a stylish and practical solution for reducing glare and enhancing visual clarity. With 100% UVA & UVB protection, they also safeguard your eyes from harmful UV rays. Whether you’re into outdoor sports, driving, or just enjoying a sunny day, polarized lenses can make a significant difference in your comfort and eye health.

As a fashion-conscious consumer, you have the power to make an informed decision about your next pair of sunglasses. Choose a style that suits your personality and needs, and make sure they offer the protection and benefits discussed in this post.

Explore our curated selection of polarized sunglasses and schedule a frame styling appointment with one of our optical consultants. Each pair can be customized to combine sun-protection technology with fashionable designs, ensuring you look and feel your best. Shop at Luminance Vision and see the world through clearer, safer lenses.

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