What Are Polarized Lenses? (And Do You Need Them?)

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Most people only focus on protecting their eyes from direct sunlight during summer, ignoring the daily harmful effects of light reflecting off smooth flat surfaces such as water bodies or snow. This light is known as glare. Usually, glare is uncomfortable to the eyes, and with the right angle of reflection, the glare can have a blinding effect and is often downright dangerous, especially when driving.

Polarized lenses feature a vertical filter that eliminates glare. Glare poses a significant vision hazard. The benefits of polarized lenses include reduced glare, improved vision, and reduced eye strain. Protect your eyes by investing in lenses that protect against glare and UV light.

Take precautions to protect your eyes using polarized lenses. Polarized lenses come in different colors. If you’re a first-time shopper, be advised that the darker the lens, the higher the polarization. Below are some insights to help you buy the right pair of polarized eyewear with some background details and information about their design and benefits.

What are Polarized Lenses

Putting on stylish round polarized sunglasses with brown lenses at sunset

Polarized lenses are made with a filter that eliminates glare. Glare refers to light reflected off certain surfaces, such as snow, water, and roads. Since the light from these surfaces travels horizontally, polarized lenses focus on blocking this horizontal light.

How Does Glare Affect Your Eye Health?

The glare that results from reflecting surfaces poses a significant vision hazard. If your eyes get exposed to glare, you risk suffering from a condition known as photokeratitis.

Snow can reflect nearly 80% of sunlight, with about the same outcome as looking right at the sun. Unfortunately, it also reflects harmful UV rays, which can result in corneal sunburn, similar to your skin’s sunburn.

Corneal sunburn occurs when the white of the eyes, the cell layer that protects the inside of the eyelids, and the thin surface of the cornea are affected by the sun’s light rays.

A corneal sunburn can also result from viewing the solar eclipse with your naked eyes, glare from arc welding, and using a tanning bed without proper eye protection.

Even though you can recover from the above condition, it can have uncomfortable symptoms such as pain, headaches, halos in vision, sensitivity to light, blurry vision, and in some extreme cases, temporary blindness.

The symptoms clear after a few days, but visiting an eye doctor is essential. You can experience color changes in your vision; the longer you’re exposed to UV rays or glare, the more severe the symptoms will be.

Keep your eyes safe by wearing polarized sunglasses each time you spend outdoors. However, in the case of viewing the solar eclipse, you can only keep your eyes safe with special eclipse glasses.

Why it’s Important to Have Polarized Sunglasses with UVA/UVB Protection

Exposure to UV light can result in eye health issues, including cataracts and macular degeneration. UV light affects retinal health in three ways:

  • Photochemical damage
  • Thermal damage
  • Structural damage

The damage that can occur depends on the light’s wavelength and the exposure length.

Bright lights, such as direct sunlight or its reflection, worsen macular degeneration for those already diagnosed with it. In addition, those who play or work in the sun need sunglasses that protect against glare and UV light.

Benefits of Polarized Sunglasses

The main benefit of polarized sunglasses is to protect your eyes from glare. Glare seriously affects your eye health, so polarized sunglasses are a “must-have” for all outdoorsmen.

Clearer Vision

Another critical benefit of polarized eyewear is the ability to enhance contrast and improve vision. With a filter that blocks horizontal light, polarized lenses allow you to enjoy improved contrast since less light can pass through your sunglasses.

Reduced Eye Strain

With only vertical light allowed to pass through your sunglasses, polarized sunglasses filter the number of sun rays you experience.

Exposure to a lot of glare and sunlight may strain your eyes, leading to symptoms such as headaches. Polarized lenses offer a relaxed vision.

Polarized Sunglasses Drawbacks

You need to be aware of the following disadvantages:

Distorts Vision on LCD Screens

Polarized lenses distort vision on LCD screens and may not be a good option for professionals such as pilots. If you’re a downhill skier, avoid polarized eyewear because it can reduce light reflections from icy patches, which you need to be able to see to prevent accidents.

Other instances where you’re better off without polarized sunglasses:

  • When using computers.
  • At gas stations.
  • At teller machines.

Do Polarized Lenses Offer Better UV Protection?

The answer is no. Polarized glasses aren’t made for UV protection, but you can find polarized glasses that feature UV protection.

When buying sunglasses, ensure product descriptions describes the exact type of UV protection featured, and it’s crucial to ensure the sunglasses also have UVB light. Take time to review each pair of polarized sunglasses (on Amazon) you intend to buy because if they don’t feature proper UV protection, your eyes are still not adequately protected.

Are Polarized Lenses Better for Your Eyes?

Woman wearing sunglasses near sea

To answer this question, it’s best to under how polarized lenses work. In three-dimensional space, sunlight moves horizontally and vertically within two dimensions.

During horizontal travel, the light results in uncomfortable reflections to the eyes, and the resulting glare affects the entire visual range resulting in reduced visibility and color distortion. Designed to absorb horizontal rays responsible for glare, polarized lenses let only useful vertical light pass through.

Polarized sunglasses are better for your eyes, mainly if you play outdoor sports at professional and amateur levels.

Reduce eye strain using polarized sunglasses when driving for long periods during the day. Out-of-town trips to the seaside or the mountains, where snow or water could convey significant visual and glare disturbances, call for polarized sunglasses.

Polarized lenses come in different colors: brown, gray, green, and pink. Each shade offers different features depending on the purpose and the chromatic effect you fancy.

Gray lenses are versatile and ideal for whole-day wear. If you anticipate exposure to direct and intense lighting, go for gray lenses. Enjoy a warm filter with pink lenses. In conditions of variable brightness, use green lenses.

Is it Safer to Drive with Polarized Lenses?

Polarized lenses are designed to almost eliminate glare and boost clarity and contrast for more relaxed vision. Driving with polarized lenses during the day makes driving fun and less prone to distractions from the glare of the road or other vehicles, ultimately leading to a safer commute.

However, darkened versions of polarized lenses can make it challenging to see in low-light situations or at night. In addition, blocking extra light from the already poor light condition can affect your vision more than glare off other vehicles.

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