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Are Polarized Sunglasses Better for Your Eyes?

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A hand holding polarized sunglasses against ocean water on a beautiful summer day

Anybody who spends long amounts of time outside or in bright conditions can benefit from the use of polarized sunglasses. The lenses in polarized sunglasses are designed to significantly reduce eye strain and nullify blinding glare caused by light reflecting off of various types of surfaces. But while polarized sunglasses can be a largely beneficial accessory to many different people, they may not be necessary for protecting the health of your eyes.

What are Polarized Sunglasses?

The lenses in polarized sunglasses use a special chemical coating to filter certain types of light, effectively reducing the glare that is caused by light reflecting on smooth and shiny surfaces. These lenses are typically darker than normal sunglass lenses and will produce a slightly different coloration of the world when looking through them.

How do Polarized Sunglasses Work?

Light is usually scattered in all directions, but when light reflects from a surface it becomes more uniform and its visible effects become much more intense. This uniform formation of light is what causes the visible glare on shiny and smooth surfaces.

Light reflected from these surfaces typically becomes organized horizontally. Polarized sunglasses filter the reflected horizontal light and only allow vertical light rays to pass through the lenses. This factor is ultimately what reduces glare when looking through polarized sunglasses.

Benefits and Disadvantages of Polarized Sunglasses

While polarized sunglasses seem to be a largely beneficial accessory, there are some instances when sunglasses with other types of lenses can be more effective.

Benefits of Polarized Sunglasses

Once again, the main benefit of polarized sunglasses is their proficiency at reducing glare in bright conditions. If you are required to drive during the daytime, polarized sunglasses can make your commute safer by reducing the glare from roads and buildings. As well, if you often find yourself outdoors in recreation or for work, polarized sunglasses will offer you a comfortable solution to intense glare.

Disadvantages of Polarized Sunglasses

The biggest disadvantage of polarized sunglasses is their effect on LCD screens. Polarized sunglasses can make LCD screens hard to view due to the way that the lenses filter light. Screens can become extremely dark or even completely blank at some angles when viewed through polarized lenses. This is an important fact to keep in mind when considering buying a pair of polarized sunglasses.

Why Choose Non-Polarized Sunglasses?

  • If you want an experience closer to the naked eye when looking through a pair of sunglasses, then non-polarized lenses will be your best option. Polarized sunglasses will produce a much darker view of the world, and some colors will look different compared to the naked eye.
  • If you are required to operate machinery or vehicles outside and you have to constantly monitor a screen, polarized lenses can impede your vision and cause more safety issues than they alleviate.
 pair of sunglasses placed beside a swimming pool on a sunny day

UV Protection

While polarized sunglasses offer major benefits for those who spend a lot of time outdoors, they do not protect your eyes on their own from harmful UVA and UVB light rays. 

UV Protected Lenses

Having protection from UVA and UVB rays will ensure that your eyes can remain healthy when spending time outdoors and can be considered the most important factor in protecting your eyesight when choosing sunglasses. The dye that is used on lenses to protect your eyes from UV rays can be applied to a variety of different lenses, including polarized lenses. For the utmost protection for your eyes, pairing polarized sunglasses with UV-protected coating will offer you the best results.

Children Need UV-Protected Glasses

The effects of UV light rays on eyesight are accumulated over your life. If children are exposed to harmful UV rays early on and often enough, it can have a detrimental effect on their eyesight when developing. It is important to make sure that your child is wearing UV-protected glasses outside as soon as possible.

How To Choose Your Next Polarized Sunglasses

If you have questions or concerns about what kind of sunglasses best fit your needs, Your optometrist can provide you with different solutions. Contact your local optometrist today and book an appointment to explore the different options available for you. 

Written by Stephen Lobaugh

Dr. Lobaugh is an affiliate doctor with TLC Laser Eye Centers, a position that allows him to effectively co-manage a variety of refractive surgeries including LASIK, PRK, and KAMRA inlay. He is also certified by the International Association of Board of Examiners in the treatment and management of ocular disease.

More Articles By Stephen Lobaugh

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