What’s the difference between polarized and non-polarized lenses?
That’s one of the most frequent questions we hear, and it’s an important one. Understanding the differences will help you make an informed decision about your next pair of sunglasses, and ultimately to choose the best pair of shades for your eyes. Check out some of the most popular sunglasses styles here!
As sunglasses experts, we'll talk about the differences as well as some common myths people often hear. Whether it’s men's sunglasses or women’s sunglasses, we’re going to break down the debate between polarized vs. non-polarized sunglasses. Let’s start with the basics - and check out our store if you want to buy sunglasses online or visit our pop up shops!
How Does Polarization Work?
The sun’s rays don’t just line up nicely in one direction - they reflect everywhere. When a ray bounces off a flat surface, the reflected light that shines back at your eyes is magnified. This magnification is called glare, and it reduces your depth perception and distorts the way you see colors. When the glare is particularly bright, it can even momentarily blind you.
Regular, non-polarized sunglass lenses reduce the amount of light that can come through the lens both horizontally and vertically, but don't truly block the light. Polarized lenses, on the other hand, allow horizontal waves through the lenses while blocking vertical waves. Since only some of the waves are getting through with polarized lenses, you don’t experience glare.
Some people think the darkness of the lens tint makes a difference in UV coverage, but dark tints actually don’t offer any more protection from UV rays. It's polarization that makes the difference when it comes to men's sunglasses and women's sunglasses.
Did you know that your pupil widens when you’re wearing sunglasses? This is because your eyes are attempting to compensate for less light. In fact, if your lenses offer poor UV protection, you could be causing more damage than you would if you weren’t wearing sunglasses at all! Without sunglasses on, your pupils remain narrow in order to filter more light. Increased exposure to the sun’s rays can cause permanent damage to your eyes, including macular degeneration and cataracts.
Non-polarized lenses don’t offer 100% protection against UVA and UVB rays, but polarized lenses do. They also offer almost complete protection against horizontal glare from the sun. This allows you to see with more defined vision, even under extremely bright conditions. Horizontal rays are also an issue while driving because the light reflects off flat surfaces like the hood of your car, and non-polarized lenses can’t counter the effects of horizontal polarization.
Although polarized lenses provide superior UV protection, they may reduce the visibility of images on LCD (liquid crystal display) screens. You may notice when you’re wearing polarized lenses that you have a harder time reading cell phone screens, GPS device screens, and other flat LCD screens.
For most people, polarized lenses are more comfortable than non-polarized lenses. This is because the reduced glare means you don’t have to squint or strain when your eyes start to feel fatigued. Be sure to check out some of our mirror polarized sunglasses, which are available in gold, silver, blue, red, green, and brown.
Applications for Polarized Sunglasses
If you’re going to be out on a boat, lounging on the beach, or skiing on sunny slopes, it’s a very good idea to get polarized lenses. In these situations, the reflected rays can be incredibly intense, and it’s possible to do serious damage to your eyes if you’re not careful. For other applications, talk with your eye doctor or discuss your situation with us - we’d be happy to help you! Be sure to check out our guide to the sunglasses trends of fall 2017 for more options.