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Polarized Lenses and Their Benefits

Posted on March 16th, 2018

Now that spring has arrived, it’s the perfect time to consider updating your eyes’ sun protection. Outdoor activities and fun in the sun top our agendas as warmer weather welcomes us back outside. To prevent damage to your vision and alleviate those annoying instances of bright glare, consider opting for a pair of polarized lenses.

Polarized and unpolarized light

Unpolarized light exists all around us, which can originate from the sun, a light bulb, or even a flame. These light sources emit vibrations or waves that move in all directions. When the direction of these vibrating light waves is altered, such as by hitting a smooth surface and reflecting, the light becomes partially polarized. This is also known as glare and is caused by too many waves of light becoming partially polarized and angled horizontally toward our eyes.

Excessive amounts of partially polarized light can be harmful to your vision. Over-exposure to bright light and glare can cause squinting, eye fatigue, and even temporary blindness in extreme cases. You will know your eyes are being impacted when you are outside in a bright environment and find yourself shielding your eyes from a flash of glaring light.

Using polarized sunglasses to our benefit

We can control the polarization of light and reduce that glare by forcing wavelengths to pass through a polarizing filter. A filter can be a barrier as simple as snow goggles ‒ traditionally worn by those who live in northern climates such as Iceland, Alaska, and northern Canada to prevent snow blindness ‒ to as complex as specialty-made polarized bifocal, progressive, or photochromic lenses.

Ultimately, we polarize light to protect our eyes, reduce glare, and make it easier for us to see in bright environments. This means preventing the wavelengths that move in directions other than up and down from reaching our eyes using a polarized filter. Today, polarized filters feature a high-tech film covered in strategically placed molecules that block the specific wavelength of light we perceive as glare. They are sandwiched between two lenses and are often thicker and heavier than non-polarized lenses.


Source: Wikipedia Commons

Polarized lenses can be tinted to a colour depth of approximately 75%, rated on an A, B, and C darkness scale. Typically, a C dark lens is ordered when customizing tinted polarized sunglasses. These lenses are combined with UVA and UVB protection that block out 100% of the sun’s harmful rays, which is ideal for outdoor eye protection.

When your eyes need protection

Sunlight and intensely bright light can be hazardous to your eyes and can affect you during either the day or night. In daylight, glare can occur when moving from shade to sunlight, projecting off surfaces like a car or roadway, or when participating in water sports where sunlight reflects constantly off the water’s surface.

At night, glare is caused by the headlights of oncoming traffic or by reflections off wet surfaces, such as signs or road markings. In general, glare can reduce your visual comfort and diminish healthy sight.

You may also want to consider wearing polarized lenses if you are light sensitive, such as after undergoing eye surgery.

Not for every situation

There are instances when you won’t want to wear polarized lenses. They reduce the visibility of images projected on liquid crystal displays (LCD) and light-emitting diode (LED) screens. If you have ever checked your smartphone while wearing polarized lenses, you probably noticed the pixels appeared skewed. That’s because these types of screens output polarized light, too. As well, downhill skiers and snowboarders tend to avoid polarized lenses in their goggles because it reduces their ability to see definition on ice and snow as they move quickly down a mountain.

Get ready for spring sunshine

With longer days of sunshine approaching, this month is a great time to consider upgrading to a pair of polarized sunglasses. If you have questions about how polarized lenses can fit your unique needs, visit your local FYidoctors.