Polarized vs. Non-Polarized Sunglasses

Woman smiling with sunglasses

Buying the right sunglasses is key to protecting your vision from harmful sunlight. By far, the most important thing is making sure your sunglasses are 100% UV protected.

Wearing unprotected sunglasses is worse for your eyes than not wearing sunglasses. This is because your pupils dilate in dark situations to allow more light in.

With more light, you are able to see more. But if this light isn’t filtered, that means more UV radiation is bouncing around inside your eyes. Too much exposure to UV light can lead to problems like cataracts, macular degeneration, and sunburns on your cornea.

U.V. protection is the most important part when it comes to choosing a pair of sunglasses. What else do you need to consider? You may have seen or heard of polarized sunglasses but not quite understood the benefits of them. Here’s a quick rundown on what they do.

What are Polarized Sunglasses?

Polarized sunglasses are designed to cut out glare from sunlight reflecting off surfaces like snow, water, or vehicles. They do this using a chemical film on the lenses of the shades.

This all too familiar glare is caused by light, which travels as waves in all directions. The light can become concentrated onto a singular horizontal plane.

This can be painful and distracting. In many situations, such as driving a car, this can actually be dangerous. The molecules in the chemical film coating polarized sunglasses are vertical. This counteracts the horizontal light waves coming in from the glaring surface.

Polarized sunglasses act a little like blinds on a window. They still allow normal light waves to pass through uninhibited, but concentrated shocks of light are filtered out. Polarized lenses will also give you clearer vision, particularly color vision and contours.

Cons of Polarized Sunglasses

Polarized sunglasses are great for reducing eye strain. This doesn’t mean that they are right for every situation because they aren’t.
One of the side effects of polarization is that it is difficult to see digital displays through the lenses. This is especially important for pilots, who are often recommended to wear non-polarized.

In some instances, glare can actually be useful. Skiing and snowboarding are a good example of this. Glare can help distinguish ice from the snow. This makes it safer to have blinding light emanating from the ground.

Can You Tell Polarized Sunglasses Apart from Other Lenses?

Visually, polarized lenses are virtually indistinguishable from non-polarized lenses. If you put the sunglasses on and look at a reflective while turning the lenses 90 degrees, you will be able to see a vibrant reflection.

Now, look at an LED screen, which will, of course, appear darker. In general, polarized sunglasses will have a label stating that they are polarized.

Whether you decide to wear polarized sunglasses depends on your lifestyle and preferences. It’s important to understand the pros and cons of all your sunglasses options before you buy your next pair.

Learn more about your eyes and eye health at New York Eye Specialists in NYC by signing up for an appointment! Your eyes will thank you!