One of our favorite questions that we get asked here at the boutique is ” Are these sunglasses polarized?” Most people think polarized lenses only offer more protection from the sun but this is not the only benefit. People also think that polarization is the best for every situation, however, that is not the case. Therefore, we thought we could explain the difference between polarized and non-polarized sunglasses.

We have all been taught that sunglasses protect our eyes from harmful sunlight. UV light is grouped into two categories based on its wavelength: UVA and UVB. Your cornea can typically absorb all of this light, but the rays can sometimes penetrate to the lens of your eye. Prolonged exposure of sunlight can cause cataracts, macular degeneration, and even skin cancer of the eyelids. Non-polarized sunglasses provide basic protection against both vertical and horizontal UV (sunlight) rays. This protection is created by applying a ultraviolet (UV) coating to the lenses which in turn absorbs the UV wavelengths, instead of your eyes. Most UV coatings protect your eyes from almost 100% of these UV rays.  However, they don’t diminish the glare from the reflected horizontal rays. This is where polarization comes into play.

Sunlight reflected from a horizontal surface, like land, water or hoods of cars is often reflected back horizontally, producing a very strong glare. For us, it means that ground reflections cause a lot of interference with our vision on water or pavement. Have you ever been stunned by glare on a sunny day after a snow storm? Polarized lenses have a unique chemical film coating that helps eliminate or reduce glare from these reflected horizontal rays. This film would be structured similar to venetian blinds placed at the perfect angle. The benefits of the polarized film is most noticeable when boating or fishing, since you can suddenly see through the water’s surface, which was previously clouded by the reflections from the sun and sky above. By eliminating most glare it increases visual comfort by reducing eyestrain. This helps to make your viewing experiences more comfortable.

Polarized lenses protect your eyes from harmful sunlight rays as well as reduces glare in order to help with eye comfort. In most cases, people notice their vision is enhanced with polarized sunglasses. However, there are a few situations in which polarized sunglasses are not the most ideal. Pilots are unable to wear polarized sunglasses while flying a plane due to the visual distortion it can cause on screens and other equipment.