What Are Polarized Sunglasses and How Do They Work?

Polarized sunglasses look cool. That’s a fact. Many people that purchase them love the look because it is sporty and modern. However, they are much more useful than just an attractive pair of sunglasses. They can reduce eye strain, protect your eyes from UV rays and keep you safe in hazardous conditions. They are no longer sporty styled sunglasses like they used to be back when only fishermen wore them. Now, they come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors for both men and women. There is such a huge selection that it may be helpful to get a little background information on them before you make your purchase.

What are Polarized Sunglasses and how do they work?

You may think, as many do, that all sunglasses are created equally. That is not the case. Polarized sunglasses are much different from simple, dark sunglasses. They have an element of protection and clarity that other sunglasses simply do not offer. How is this so? First, you will need to understand a little bit about light and what happens when humans see light.

Light has many interesting properties. It is a fascinating scientific phenomenon. When reflected from another surface, light can do all kinds of amazing things. However, the things that may be interesting to scientists can be dangerous if you are trying to drive or play a sport. Polarized sunglasses use one of light’s properties, known as polarization, to their advantage.

To put it simply, when you are looking at light that is NOT reflected off of a surface, that light source produces waves in all directions, up and down and left and right. However, when light is bounced off of a reflective surface like glass, water, snow or a mirror, those light waves polarize. This means that the light waves orient horizontally along an axis. To your eye, this appears as glare. A polarized sunglass lens orients vertically and reduces the brightness of the horizontal waves. This keeps your vision clear and allows optical information through without interference.

Polarized sunglasses are designed with one purpose. They reduce glare. When you are looking at, or are near, reflective surfaces such as glass, snow or water you may experience a very annoying and intense glare. This can be not just annoying but also dangerous. Polarized sunglasses allow you to see more clearly while boating, driving or participating in sports so that you are safe and able to avoid hazards. They are also preferable because they block out only glare. They do not make your entire field of vision darker. That, in and of itself, can be hazardous in many instances.

Why should you use Polarized Sunglasses instead of traditional tinted sunglasses?

You may be wondering if there really is any need for polarized sunglasses. Tinted sunglasses will reduce brightness and, for some people, that may be all that you need. However, they will not remove annoying and sometimes dangerous glare. Polarized lenses are preferable for sports and outdoor activities because they will keep you safe and help you avoid hazards in a way that old fashioned tinted sunglasses will not. Tinted sunglasses, no matter how dark, will not protect your eyes from UV rays unless it is clearly stated on their packaging. As a matter of fact, a very dark pair of sunglasses without UV protection will harm your eyes and create strain.

When should you use Polarized Sunglasses?

Polarized sunglasses have always been popular with boaters and fishermen because they reduce the glare off of water. They can also be extremely useful for biking, running, jogging and even driving. They make for clearer vision which creates a safer experience for many sports and activities. There are a few activities that are not particularly suited to these glasses, however. These include downhill skiing, for example, where skiers WANT to see the glare off of ice patches so that they can be safe. Polarized sunglasses can also be a hindrance when driving if your car comes equipped with LED or LCD displays. They are not recommended for motorcyclists or snowboarders either. In general, polarized sunglasses are wonderful but they are specifically designed to reduce the glare of certain kinds of light and, in so doing, can create an issue when it is NECESSARY to see those types of light.

What are the different types of Polarized Sunglasses?

0.75 mm polarized lenses

You will probably choose these unless you are a heavy duty sports enthusiast. These polarized lenses are thin. They are most ideal for casual sports. They are not extremely impact resistant and therefore are not a good choice for sports in which you need a really tough pair of glasses. However, for many purposes and sports they are fine. They are less expensive than their thicker counterparts.

1.1 mm polarized lenses

These lenses are thicker than the 0.75 mm lenses and are impact resistant. They do not offer better glare reduction. They are simply tougher and more suitable for people who are concerned about their glasses breaking during their activities. However, please remember, they are NO MORE beneficial in keeping you safe or protecting your eyes.

What are the different brands of Polarized Sunglasses?

Popular brands of sporty styles such as Columbia, Ray Ban, Cocoons, Tommy Bahama and Maui Jim all make polarized sunglasses. However, plenty of other brands are making polarized sunglasses these days. These include designer brands like Vera Wang and Vera Bradley. You can find the best polarized sunglasses in many very fashionable and cool styles.

How much do Polarized Sunglasses cost?

As with anything, you get what you pay for. If you are on a budget, you can get them for very cheap, as low as $25. However, those glasses are generally low quality and will not last for long. They will get scratched and broken easily. They also will not provide the level of clarity that a nicer pair will. A great pair will cost about $150 and, of course, there are glasses for every price in between.

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