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What do Polarized Sunglasses do?

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A pair of polarized sunglasses sitting in the sand

Having an active lifestyle is essential to your health—spending time outdoors is always refreshing and has important health benefits. Protective eyewear like polarized sunglasses can help you enjoy the outdoors and sun safely—keeping your optometrist happy. 

Investing in polarized sunglasses can increase your quality of life. Let’s look at what polarized lenses do, how they benefit you, and what you should look for when searching for polarized sunglasses.

The Benefits of Polarized Sunglasses

Polarized sunglasses are a great option if you love spending time outdoors—they work to protect your eyes from reflected sunlight. Polarized sunglasses can help reduce glare and provide clarity when you’re working outdoors in a high-glare environment.

Benefits of polarized sunglasses include: 

  • Clearer vision, especially in bright light
  • Increased contrast and minimal colour distortion
  • Reduced glare and reflection
  • Reduced eye strain 

Glaring light can affect your eyes at any time, so it’s essential to be prepared and protect your vision. Polarized sunglasses reduce glare and allow you to protect your eyes from dangerous rays.

How Do Polarized Sunglasses Work?

Polarized lenses work by preventing light glare from hitting you directly in your eyes. They do so by coating polarized lenses with a particular chemical that blocks some of that light and glare as it passes through them. Polarized lenses act as a filter for what reflects into your eyes.

Your optometrist’s office can have this special coating added to your lenses when they manufacture your custom lenses in the lab.

Polarized lenses are specialized to protect your eyes from glare—things may appear a little darker than usual, but the trade-off and difference from regular sunglasses is the added protection for your eyes from the sun’s rays and glare.

With polarized lenses, the filter is vertical, allowing only some of the light to pass through the openings. Glare is horizontal light—polarized lenses block this light and only allow vertical light. Blocking the horizontal light helps to eliminate glare from shining directly in your eyes.

A woman trying on polarized sunglasses while shopping for sunglasses

Disadvantages of Polarized Sunglasses

Polarized lenses are ideal for outdoor activities and for reducing glare. However, there are some activities polarized lenses aren’t good for:

  • Looking at LCD screens
  • Flying
  • Low-light situations and driving at night
  • People whose sight may be sensitive to how the lenses change lighting

Because the lenses can be darker, like traditional sunglasses, you should still change to clear eyeglasses when reading or to drive at night. 

Finding The Right Polarized Sunglasses

Recognizing if your sunglasses are polarized is a simple process—all you have to do is look at a reflective surface both with and without the lenses. Another way to make sure your lenses are polarized is by looking at an LCD screen. Polarization can make it more challenging to see screens than regular tinted lenses.

While polarized lenses are great for outdoor activities, polarized lenses and UV-protected lenses are not the same. Polarized lenses don’t provide UV protection unless otherwise specified.

UV-protected lenses work by shielding your eyes against harmful UV exposure, which can be linked to cataracts and eye damage. UV protection alone doesn’t protect your eyes from reflected beams of light and glare. It’s essential to change your eyewear to fit the environment and your needs.

Some general things to look out for when you’re shopping for sunglasses include:

  • Lenses should have the same level of darkness
  • Lenses that don’t change your view so that it’s unnatural
  • A frame that is close to your eyes and fits the shape of your face well 

When shopping for a new pair of sunglasses, it’s essential to keep your eye health in mind and consider all factors.

Protect Your Eyes With Polarized Sunglasses

Taking care of your eyes is an ongoing process. You owe it to yourself to take every step to preserve your eye health, and polarized sunglasses are a great tool to help with that. Polarized sunglasses are specialized and help you maximize your outdoor time safely. 

Book an appointment with your optometrist at Maple Ridge Eye Care to learn more about polarized sunglasses and find the right pair for you.

Written by Dr. M. Hurlbert

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