Polarized versus non-polarized, it’s like a celebrity cage match for those in the sunglasses industry. But to the average consumer the words can be confusing. What exactly is the difference between the two?
Polarized lenses eliminate glare, blocking vertical light that can be particularly dangerous for people driving a car, boat, bike or any other type of machinery. They are popular among boaters, fishermen, golfers, bicyclists, NASCAR drivers, runners and other outdoor sports enthusiasts. And they are ideal for those who enjoy a day (or two, or three) at the beach.
There are a number of advantages to polarized lenses over non-polarized lenses, including:
- Minimizes eyestrain
- Enhances contrast and visual clarity
- Improves visual comfort
- Eliminates/reduces glare
- Provides a more accurate perception of colors
BUT, and there is a big BUT, polarized lenses are NOT for everyone. Operators of heavy equipment and airplane pilots should not wear polarized-lenses as they make it difficult for people to see LCD screens (like the ones found on a cell phone or GPS) clearly.
Additionally, some downhill skiers do not wear polarized lenses because it can be difficult for them to differentiate between snow, ice and hills, only adding to the danger of the sport.
POLARIZED ALTERNATIVES: SOME OPTIONS
So let’s say you are a pilot. Or work in an industry where seeing LCD screen is important. Some manufacturers make tinted lenses (more to come on this in a later post) that will reduce brightness. A quick warning: these sunglasses do not address glare like the polarized lens do as they do not block vertical light.
Because sunglasses come in a variety of tints, they may also impact how you perceive different colors.
And if the lens does not have built-in UV protection, it can put your eyes at risk which brings us to:
THE IMPORTANCE OF UV-PROTECTION
Everyone loves sunny days, but the sun has its dangers to our health. That danger comes in the form of Ultraviolet (UV) radiation which can not only impact our skin, but our eyes.
Prolonged exposure to UV radiation can:
- Increase a person’s chances of developing cataracts
- Cause damage to the retina (the nerve lining of the eye used for seeing)
- Lead to macular degeneration
UV damage is cumulative over a person’s life, something we covered in a recent blog (click here to read). So it is important, as consumers, to always check the level of UV protection a pair of sunglasses actually provides. Why? Because when wearing sunglasses, the pupil widens which allows for harmful UV rays to more easily enter the eyes.
With polarized lenses, consumers don’t have to worry because they offer 100% protection against UVA and UVB rays. Look for the stickers on the sunglasses to see whether the ones you want to buy meet these standards:
- Lenses block 99% or 100% of UVB and UVA rays
- Lenses meet ANSI (American National Standards Institute) Z80.3 blocking requirements
- UV 400 protection (blocking the tiniest UV rays with wavelengths up to 400 nanometers)
Of course, if you’re shopping in one of our stores, our staff will be there to assist you in finding the right pair that will properly protect your eyes while allowing you to properly enjoy the outdoors. And you can always contact us here should you have any questions.