Polarized Lenses : Everything You Need To Know

During the course of browsing designer sunglasses online or at your local optician, you’ll have probably noticed that many have polarized lenses. These offer a wide range of benefits to the wearer, but it may not be immediately apparent what these are if you have never worn polarized sunglasses before. Here we will be taking an in-depth look at them, covering everything you need to know about the topic so that you can see how they differ from regular lenses and thus make a more informed purchasing decision.

Table of Contents
What Are Polarized Lenses?
How Does Polarization Work?
What Types of Polarized Lenses Are Available?
Who Should Use Polarized Lenses?
What About Ultraviolet Protection?
What Are The Benefits of Polarized Lenses?
Do I Need Them?

What Are Polarized Lenses?

Polarized lenses are essentially lenses that are coated with a special chemical film, with the main intention being to reduce glare from the sun. This makes them particularly useful on days when the sun is at its brightest, or when you are in conditions that result in a lot of glare, such as days when the sun is bright and reflecting off snow on the ground.

These types of lenses are intended to help you see objects more clearly in brighter conditions, in addition to offering extra protection against the ultraviolet rays emitted by the sun than regular lenses are capable of providing.

How Does Polarization Work?

To understand how polarized lenses work, it is first important to understand what glare is and why it is so dangerous. The sun’s rays reflect light in every direction, with said rays also bouncing off every surface that they hit. When they hit a flat or light surface, such as densely packed snow or a wet patch of tarmac, it is possible that the rays will be reflected back in a magnified capacity. If this reflection hits your eyes it can be extremely dangerous, as it can result in loss of depth perception, disorientation, distortion of vision and the inability to see colours as you normally would. You may recognise that these are all things that could put you in danger in certain situations, especially when you are driving.

This is where polarized lenses come into play. Whereas regular sunglasses lenses will simply reduce the amount of light that is transmitted through the lens both horizontally and vertically, the chemical filter used in the creation of polarized lenses is able to absorb horizontal light waves entirely, while still allowing the vertical waves that are vital for your vision to pass through.

This is important because allowing light to only pass in one direction is what allows polarized lenses to eliminate the risk of glare. With normal sunglasses lenses, the fact that light can pass through both horizontally and vertically means that you are still at risk, even though the glasses still let less light through.


Polarized Sunglasses

What Types of Polarized Lenses Are Available?

There are two types of polarized lenses, at least in terms of the thickness of the chemical film that is placed over the lenses. Both offer very similar advantages when it comes to glare elimination, but there are a couple of differences that it is worth being aware of.

75mm Polarized Lenses

Made using thinner sheets of chemical film, these are the most common type of polarized lenses and are ideal for people who don’t need to worry about impact resistance when they wear their sunglasses. This makes them ideal for casual wear, in addition to low impact sports like running or golf. However, you should be wary about wearing them for anything that is higher impact.

1.1mm Polarized Lenses

While the added thickness of the chemical film may give you the idea that these lenses are capable of better glare reduction, the fact is that they offer the exact same amount of glare reduction as their 75mm counterparts. The big difference here is that 1.1mm lenses are capable of absorbing stronger impacts, which makes them a better choice for people wo are expecting to undertake more rugged activities, such as mountain biking, that may put the glasses at risk. The added thickness often makes them a touch more expensive, but this will often be worth it when the added thickness keeps the lenses intact after a strong impact.

Finally, it is worth noting that non-polarized lenses don’t have this film at all, which makes them a little more vulnerable to impacts in addition to not offering the glare reduction qualities that polarized lenses provide.

Who Should Use Polarized Lenses?

Due to their practicality, there are a number of people who should use polarized sunglasses as opposed to the non-polarized variety. Essentially, anybody who is regularly around highly reflective, flat surfaces can benefit from them.

They are particularly useful for those who work on or around water, such as sailors or fishermen. This is because, in addition to reducing the glare that may be experienced as a result of the reflections off the water, they also offer people better clarity of vision. This is particularly useful for fishermen when they are trying to gauge if there are any fish in the water near to them in brighter conditions, in addition to allowing them to spot any obstacles in the water that may cause issue but would otherwise be unnoticeable with regular sunglasses.


Water sunglare without polarized lenses


Beyond professions involving water, polarized lenses are also useful for people who spend a lot of time driving. As previously mentioned, glare can be caused by snow and wet tarmac. This can dazzle the driver at an inopportune moment, leading to temporary loss of control of the car that could result in an accident in the worst case scenarios.

Furthermore, the lenses can also aid in reducing eye fatigue and general discomfort when driving, which is especially useful for those who spend a lot of time on the road that could lead to them damaging their eyes due to having to strain to see through glare and brighter conditions.

What About Ultraviolet Protection?

In many cases, polarized lenses will be able to offer protection from ultraviolet rays, so look for any indication that they provide UVA UVB 100% protection before purchasing.

However, it is important to note that this is not a feature that is unique to polarized lenses in the same way that glare reduction is. Regular lenses are also more than capable of protecting your eyes against ultraviolet rays, so if this is your only concern when buying a pair of sunglasses, you don’t need to limit yourself to polarized lenses only.

What Are The Benefits of Polarized Lenses?

Throughout the course of reading this article, you will have probably already recognized a few of the benefits that polarized lenses can offer. Here we will simply list them all in one place, so that you can easily determine if any of these benefits would be useful for you.

  • They are capable of reducing the effects of glare, eliminating it entirely in most cases. This allows you to stay safer, particularly in brighter conditions.
  • They increase visual comfort by ensuring your eyes aren’t being constantly challenged when the sun is at its brightest. This will ensure you don’t suffer issues with eye fatigue.
  • They enhance your clarity of vision, making it much easier to see objects clearly.
  • They provide contrast for ground level objects, again allowing you to see more clearly.
  • They allow for a clearer view into bodies of water, which would otherwise be unattainable on brighter days when the glare from the sun makes it almost impossible to see.
  • They reduce the amount of strain that is put on your eyes.
  • They often provide protection against ultraviolet rays, though this is not a feature that is always included with polarized lenses so you need to be aware of whether or not your selected lenses offer this.
  • They can allow you to see colours and objects with crystal-clear clarity, which is something that many regular lenses can’t do.
  • They provide physical protection for your eyes when engaging in activities like water sports, which could see your vision getting blurred by sprays of water.

Do I Need Them?

This is the million dollar question and, while we can provide plenty of advice, it is one that you are going to have to answer for yourself.

However, if you engage in any of the activities that have been mentioned in this article, particularly those noted in the ‘Who Should Use Polarized Lenses?’ section, it is a good idea to consider these types of lenses for your own comfort and safety.

Furthermore, if you have found that your regular sunglasses leave you feeling fatigued or that you are suffering from the effects of straining your eyes, it is worth consulting your optician or doctor to find out if polarized lenses could help. They will be able to in many cases, but remember that every case is different and the issues you are suffering from may be indicative of a larger problem in a minority of cases.
Who Sells Them?

Thankfully, the vast majority of lens manufacturers create polarized varieties, which means you should find it fairly easy to locate a pair that suit your stylistic tastes in addition to offering all of the practical benefits that we have spoken about here.

All that’s left now is to take a look at the range of sunglasses offered by Lens Hour to see if you can find a pair to suit you. We have some of the biggest brands in the world available and our range of products is constantly expanding. Just look out for the term ‘Polarized’ when checking out a pair that have caught your eye and you will be on the right track.

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