How Do Polarized Lenses Work?
Dr. Mai-Vy Hoang 02/14/2017
Long popular among boaters and fishermen who needed to reduce glare from the water, polarized sunglasses have become mainstream as many others have experienced their benefits.
Today, all kinds of outdoors enthusiasts — from joggers to golfers to bikers and skiers — rely on polarized sunglasses to eliminate glare while giving them a clearer view of their activities.
What are polarized sunglasses?
Polarized sunglasses reduce glare by using a chemical film that's applied or embedded in the lenses. The film removes glare by absorbing incoming horizontal light while still allowing vertical light. They're different from regular tinted lenses that reduce the brightness of horizontal and vertical light but don't block glare.
How do they work?
The light that's reflected off of surfaces such as smooth water or a flat road is horizontally polarized. Instead of being scattered in many directions, the light travels in a more horizontal direction and creates a more annoying (and often dangerous) intensity of light. Polarized lenses cut glare and haze that can hinder your vision and make your eyes uncomfortable.
Because of the intense glare created by light reflecting off the water, polarized sunglasses are considered essential for boaters and fishermen.
When not to wear them
While polarized sunglasses clearly improve comfort and visibility, there are some instances when wearing them may not be advisable. For example, during downhill skiing, you don't want to block light that's reflected off of icy patches because it helps make you aware of potential danger.
Polarized lenses can also reduce the visibility of images produced by LCD or LED lights on the dashboards of some cars, or on automatic teller machines and gas pumps. They may also make it difficult to see your cell phone or GPS device.
Boaters and airplane pilots have also reported difficulty in viewing LCD displays on instrument panels, although some manufacturers have modified their products to resolve the issue.
But the bottom line is that polarized sunglasses provide many benefits and advantages for most sports and activities. If you're frequently in and out of the sun during the day, photochromic lenses that change from dark outside to light inside may be a great fit for you.
Not just for the outdoors
Polarized sunglasses are beneficial when worn indoors, as well. If you're light-sensitive or recovering from cataract surgery, polarized lenses will help you deal with exposure to bright light through your windows.
Broome Optical of Amarillo offers a wide array of sunglasses and prescription sunglasses, including polarized lenses. Visit our Ray-Ban Trunk Show Feb. 16, 2017, to browse the polarized selection.