Why you need polarised Sunglasses
Summer only means one thing: The sun is out, it packs a punch and it’s essential you shield your eyes with 100% UV protection sunglasses. But are all sunglasses created equal? A key differentiating factor goes unnoticed – polarisation. Polarised sunglasses offer an added layer of visual comfort and clarity, especially in bright and reflective conditions.
How Polarised Lenses Work
Polarisation technology tackles glare, an annoyance and also a potential hazard! It does this by blocking horizontal light waves that bounce off flat surfaces and refract into your eyes. The whole process is simple and involves having a special filter in the lenses, that helps in reducing glare and improving visual clarity. Unlike regular sunglasses that darken the field of vision in the same way across the whole lens, polarised lenses selectively eliminate certain light waves, creating clear and glare-free vision.
Polarised Sunglasses vs Non-Polarised Sunglasses
Non-polarised sunglasses primarily reduce the intensity of light, akin to dimming a lamp, while preserving the balance of light waves. On the other hand, polarised sunglasses, with their unique filters, selectively block glare-causing light waves, delivering a clearer and distortion-free view.
How Can You Tell If Sunglasses Are Polarised?
A simple way to see if sunglasses are polarised is by going through the 'polarisation test'. You look at a reflective surface through the sunglasses, then slowly rotate them at a 90-degree angle. If the glare decreases or increases as you tilt them, you have polarised sunglasses. Some brands also clearly mark their sunglasses as polarised.
Benefits of Polarised Sunglasses
Polarised sunglasses give you so many benefits: Improved visual comfort, reduced eye strain, enhanced contrast and visual clarity, and reduced glare. These benefits really come in handy when you’re doing outdoor activities like boating, fishing, driving (during the day only) or any other activity where light reflection can cause an issue.
- Glare Reduction: Polarised lenses significantly reduce glare from reflective surfaces, such as water, snow, and roads. This is particularly advantageous for activities like driving, skiing, or fishing, where glare can impair vision and compromise safety.
- Improved Visual Comfort: By blocking out intense glare, polarised lenses reduce eye strain and fatigue, allowing you to enjoy outdoor activities for longer durations without discomfort.
- Enhanced Colour Perception: Polarised lenses reveal vivid colours and finer details that might be obscured by glare. This feature can be particularly appealing for photographers, artists, and nature enthusiasts.
- UV Protection: Most polarised lenses come equipped with built-in UV protection, shielding your eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays. This added layer of defense can contribute to long-term eye health.
- Clearer Vision: Polarised lenses help you see beneath the surface of water bodies, making them indispensable for boating, fishing, and other aquatic activities.
- Driving: Driving with polarised lenses is a game-changer, as they reduce glare from the road and other vehicles. This enhances your ability to detect potential hazards and improves overall road safety.
- Outdoor Activities: Whether you're hiking, golfing, or lounging by the beach, polarised lenses provide a more enjoyable experience by minimising glare and boosting visual clarity.
- Water Sports: From kayaking to fishing, polarised lenses reveal underwater features and help you spot marine life beneath the surface of the water.
- Urban Life: Polarised lenses are equally beneficial in urban environments, reducing glare from glass buildings, car windows, and other reflective surfaces.
- To make the most of your polarised lenses, it's essential to care for them properly:
- Clean them with a microfiber cloth to avoid scratching the lens surface.
- Use a lens cleaner specifically designed for eyewear and avoid using harsh chemicals.
- Store your sunglasses in a protective case when not in use to prevent accidental damage.
- LCD screens can disappear at certain angles.
- The Lack of Contrast. Slight variations in contrast and height can be eliminated.
- Not all polarised glasses offer the correct amount of UV protection. Always look for the CE mark and the amount of UV protection offered.
- Saltwater. If you live in a coastal area, saltwater exposure can result in the coating used for polarisation eventually cracking, peeling, and failing.
- Human sweat on the lenses of polarised sunglasses can have the same effects over time.
Care and Maintenance
Disadvantages of Polarised Sunglasses
Despite all the advantages we discussed above, there are a few disadvantages:
Alternatives to Polarised Lenses
Photochromic lenses or transition lenses darken in response to sunlight and clear up indoors, and so could be used as a great alternative to polarised lenses. While they don’t really reduce glare as well as polarised lenses, they offer you mainly convenience and protection from UV rays.
Polarised Clip-On Sunglasses
Polarised clip-on sunglasses are a great invention that saves you overbuying and money! They offer a convenient solution for prescription glasses users. They simply clip onto the existing frames, providing the benefits of polarisation without needing a separate pair of sunglasses.
Who Uses Polarised Lenses?
Polarised lenses are preferred by outdoor enthusiasts, drivers, fishermen, athletes, and anyone exposed to bright sunlight and reflective surfaces. They are also recommended for light-sensitive individuals and post-cataract surgery patients.
Polarised sunglasses offer enhanced clarity, visual comfort, and reduced glare, they are a fantastic choice to safeguard and enhance your vision in various lighting conditions. Whilst they may have some limitations, their benefits significantly outweigh their disadvantages for most users.
Author: John Dreyer Optometrist Bsc(Hons), MCOPTOM, DipCLP
Created: 25 Jul 2023, Last modified: 21 Sep 2023