Why Polarized Sunglasses Are a Good Buy
Since their invention in 1936, polarized lenses have revolutionised the sunglasses world.
Originally patented by the same man who invented the Polaroid camera, polarized lenses have been the go-to choice for those working on or near water as well as a must-have for anyone living near the snow.
While the term may sound familiar, there are still many questions that need answering - our customers are always asking ‘what exactly are polarized lenses?’ and ‘do I need polarized lenses?’. If you’ve found yourself asking questions like these, read on to find out more!
What Does Polarization Mean?
You might know this if you paid attention in physics, but for those at the back of the class, light waves oscillate in different directions as they move through space (up-down, left-right, or any diagonal in between). The direction in which these light waves move is known as polarization. When light oscillates up-down as it travels through space, it’s known as vertical polarization, while when it oscillates left-right, it’s called horizontal polarization. Any diagonal oscillation of light is a combination of vertical and horizontal polarization. Sunlight is unpolarized, i.e. it oscillates in different directions. Some of this light is horizontally polarized and some vertically. In most situations, it’s a combination of the two. Here’s the important bit, which we’ll revisit later: light reflected off a perfectly horizontal surface (like a lake, hot road or other shiny surface) mostly gets horizontally polarized.
Polarized Sunglasses Meaning
Polarized lenses have a special coating that’s lined up in horizontal rows across the lenses. These molecules absorb horizontally polarized light before it reaches your eyes, but allow vertically polarized light to pass through. Direct sunlight is unpolarized, so the polarization filter doesn’t block out the light - but don’t worry, polarized sunglasses contain other coatings that protect your eyes from direct sunlight. Horizontal, reflected light, on the other hand, is where polarized lenses are really worth their money. You’ll notice this if you’ve ever looked at the water’s surface on a sunny day before and after putting on polarized lenses.
Polarized lenses can also enhance color contrasts we see when exposed to the sun. This attribute is beneficial for athletes, fishing enthusiasts and outdoorsmen who want to receive greater depth perception to enhance their performance.
Polarized technology is also used in 3D glasses - albeit not in the same way as it is in sunglasses. One side of the polarized lenses is polarized horizontally and the other side is polarized vertically. For 3D movies, two shots (from slightly different angles) are spliced together at the same time. This results in two directions of light that enter the differently positioned lenses, which creates the amazing 3D visual effect you’ll know if you’ve been to a 3D movie.
The technology used for polarized lenses has been around since 1936, but it’s only in recent years that it’s really come into its own.
Polarized sunglasses are perfect for time spent on or near water as they help eliminate the light that reflects from the surface. Similarly, polarized lenses are also commonly found in ski goggles in order to improve performance and block the glare that reflects off the snow.
Polarized Sunglasses vs UV Protection
Polarized sunglasses don’t necessarily equate to UV protection unless explicitly labeled. This means that they won’t protect you when staring at the sun directly (of course, it’s advisable to never do that in the first place). However, UV protection sunglasses shield your eyes from harmful UV exposure, to which even a short-term exposure can cause temporary blindness, cataracts, and eye damage. The very highest level of protection is known as UV400. Since UV lenses don’t prevent glare, it’s a good idea to look for sunglasses that are both polarized AND offer UV protection.
Polarized Sunglasses and LCD Screens
Phone screens emit horizontally polarized light - therefore, when you try to read an LCD screen, your lenses and screen work against each other. The sunglasses block horizontally polarized light and only let vertically polarized light pass through. This leads to a dark or blacked-out image. This isn’t the same on all screens, though. You’ll only notice a polarizing effect if you look at your screen sideways on certain models of laptop or monitor.
How to Tell Whether Your Sunglasses Are Polarized
With the definition of polarized lenses in mind, you can determine whether your sunglasses are polarized by looking through the lenses towards an area reflecting light horizontally (the surface of a water body or similar). If you don’t experience blurry vision, you are probably wearing sunglasses with polarized lenses.
Another way to test your sunglasses is to look at an LCD screen like your phone or tablet while wearing them. If your screen is black, that means your sunglasses are polarized with a filter that blocks horizontally polarized light. All you have to do to see your screen is rotate your device 90 degrees.
You can learn all about the differences between polarized sunglasses and normal sunglasses here.
When Not to Use Polarized Sunglasses
As a result of the fact that LCD displays get blacked out when viewed through polarized lenses, pilots are suggested to not wear polarized sunglasses when flying as control panels become hard to read.
Polarized lenses reduce glare, which can make it difficult to determine the different surfaces reflecting light. If you’re going skiing, it’s crucial to be able to differentiate between snow and ice.
If you’re interested in some non-polarized eyewear solutions for sunny days, read our guide on tinted lenses here. Alternatively, check out these mirrored sunglasses that help decrease how much light enters your eyes.
Do I Need Polarized Sunglasses?
Regardless of whether you are spending time on the water or near the snow, polarized sunglasses offer many practical applications for everyday life. Not to mention, if you are serious about protecting your eyes from UV light, having a pair of go-to polarized sunglasses is a no-brainer.
If your lifestyle involves spending a lot of time outdoors (even if that’s just sitting in traffic jams), you may be exposed to many objects where light is reflected off surfaces horizontally, such as roads, puddles, cars and buildings. There’s a high risk of experiencing sudden blinding moments as a result of the glare - not ideal for driving, to say the least.
Best Polarized Sunglasses: Our Top Picks
These round polarized sunglasses from Arise Collective have a brown acetate frame with tortoiseshell temples. They also feature UV Protection Category 3, ensuring high UV protection. At VisionDirect, products come with a 2-year guarantee, 100-day returns, and FREE shipping.
These Ray-Ban polarized sunglasses come in a classic, premium wayfarer frame. Available in three colors, these sunglasses are made from premium materials, making them light, compact and durable. They feature UV category 3 protection with a stylish gradient lens.
Oakley’s polarized sunglasses are some of the best on the market. This model features rectangular lenses and is available in three different colors. It offers UV protection category 3 so you can rest assured that you’re getting that polarized UV protection. Good news for prescription glasses wearers - these sunglasses, like others in this list, can be custom-fit to your prescription.
Looking for high quality yet cheap polarized sunglasses? These shades have a stylish pilot design and offer Category 3 UV protection. Available in five colors with a full rim acetate body, you’ll be turning heads and staying well protected in the sun!
I Know the Facts and I’m Looking for Some New polarized Sunglasses. What Now?
It’s time to select a pair of glasses - or even sunglasses - that’s right for you. At VisionDirect, we’re proud to host a whole range of luxury brands, value models, cutting-edge technologies and more. We stock loads of brands that offer progressive lenses - just select your new prescription on checkout. If you’ve seen a pair you like the look of, but aren’t sure how they’ll look ‘on-face’, why don’t you have a look at...
VisionDirect’s revolutionary Virtual Try-On tool is an advanced online solution to the problem of not being able to check out a pair of glasses in-hand. It’s simple and free! See what you look like wearing different designer sunglasses or eyeglasses from home in just 2 easy steps.
Step 1: record your selfie video. We'll walk you through a simple process and show you how to use your desktop or mobile camera to record a quick, five-second selfie video.
Step 2: try on glasses online! Go to the brand page of any glasses you’d like to virtually try on. Then, filter by ‘virtual try-on’ in the special features option. You can see yourself wearing any of the glasses that appear! We have over 5,000 pairs of eyeglasses and 6,000 pairs of sunglasses just a few clicks away from appearing on your face!
Given the current pandemic, going to your local opticians’ or eyewear store isn’t so easy at the moment. Virtual Try-On eliminates the stress of making your mind up in person, the time wasted going to and from the store, and the typically high costs of visiting a brick-and-mortar shop. It really is the perfect socially distanced try-before-you-buy!
Arise HD Prescription Lenses
VisionDirect offers groundbreaking durability, pristine clarity and perfect vision - all in the same lenses. Arise HD Clarity Prescription Lenses are made for the everyday wearer, but also offer advanced protection making them suitable for any adventure.
The Arise Clarity Lens Collection comes packed with protective elements to provide you with an unbeatable pair of prescription glasses. From scratch resistant and anti-reflective coatings to UV 400 and superhydrophobic protection, these lenses are guaranteed to keep your eyes comfortable in any situation.
These lenses are also aspheric, making them thinner and lighter than many other prescription lenses. These high performing, durable lenses feature an innovative lens technology that provides optimal clarity and comfort in the urban jungle.
Simply choose any frames you like, enter your prescription and select Arise Collective for your lens type. Let's get started!
zFORT® Blue Light Blocking Glasses
Blue light is a potentially harmful form of light. While it is naturally emitted by the sun, electronic devices (upon which we’re spending more and more time every day) are also high-level producers. Blue light rays at a wavelength between 415nm - 455nm can damage your retinal cells, which may lead to premature eye ageing and vision problems in the future.
Our exposure to these harmful light rays may also cause a range of other health problems, including poor sleep (according to a 2012 Harvard Medical School study). Find out more about how to protect your eyes from blue light with anti blue light glasses from zFORT®.