What you need to know about polarized sunglasses


Polarized sunglasses are special glasses designed to reduce glare from surfaces such as water, snow, and glass. Glare distorts the true color of objects and makes them difficult to distinguish. Polarized sunglasses can be useful in certain sports and driving as they help participants see more clearly and avoid potential dangers.

How Polarized Lenses Work

Polarized lenses are available in different colors depending on the lens material. Darker colors provide a higher level of polarization.

Sunlight can be absorbed or reflected in several different directions. Sunlight that bounces off horizontal surfaces such as water, dirt, or the hood of a car generally bounces in a similar horizontal direction.

This reflection creates an exciting source of bright light that not only creates visual discomfort, but can also cause potentially dazzling reflections . Bright light can create a very dangerous situation, especially while driving.

Polarized lenses contain a laminated filter that only allows vertically oriented light to pass through. This blocks horizontally oriented light so that glare is virtually eliminated.

The most common colors for polarized lenses are gray and brown. However, many other colors may be available depending on the manufacturer. Green, yellow or melanin colors are also very popular.


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A high-quality pair of sunglasses usually includes polarized lenses. Polarized lenses have the following advantages over non-polarized lenses:

  • Increase visual comfort
  • Improves contrast and visual clarity.
  • Reduces eyestrain
  • Allows you to truly perceive colors
  • Reduces reflections and eliminates glare.


Generally speaking, polarization is the best option for people who worry about harassing sunlight and glare. However, there are also those who cannot use them .

Regardless of whether the cause is psychological or neurological, some say the glasses make them dizzy or disorienting, while others insist they create an artificial 3D effect.

For this subset of people, the photoreceptor cells in the back of their eyes may pick up vertical light signals differently than the rest of us. In these circumstances, tinted lenses may be the best option.

There are also occupations that require a worker to be able to read certain digital numbers on a liquid crystal display. Polarized lenses can sometimes interfere with the visibility of numbers and should be avoided.

How to know if your lenses are polarized

If you are not sure if your lenses are polarized:

  1. Take the sunglasses to the drugstore and grab a pair of polarized sunglasses from the shelf.
  2. Place your sunglasses lenses at a 90 degree angle to the pharmacy sunglasses lenses.
  3. If the combined lenses turn dark or almost black, your sunglasses are polarized.

Frequently asked questions

  • Yes. They can be especially useful on sunny days and when doing activities in or near water, such as sailing or fishing. Polarized sunglasses can also reduce glare in snow and can therefore be useful for winter sports. An exception is skiing in areas where there may be patches of ice, as these will be more difficult to see with polarized lenses.

  • In general, yes. However, it is important to note that they can make LCD screens difficult to read, for example on dashboards (as well as on ATMs and cell phones).

  • Ideally not. You want the road to be as bright as possible, and polarized sunglasses can get in the way. Even polarized lenses marketed for night driving can limit visibility. If you think driving at night is causing you problems, talk to your eye doctor .

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