As we move further away from winter months deeper into spring and nearer to summer, the sun’s rays are getting stronger and stronger. What are you doing to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. At a minimum, you should be wearing 100% UV protective sunglasses when outdoors, cutting down your exposure which can harm your eye site. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, long-term exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation in sunlight is linked to cataracts and eye growths, including cancer.
But when it comes to sunglasses, UV protection isn’t the only thing you need to be aware of. Polarized lenses can be a big plus, too—especially for active people who spend a lot of time in the outdoors.
CUT THE GLARE
Great at reducing glare off water, polarized sunglasses have always been popular with anglers and boaters. They let you see beyond the surface of the water, revealing structures and (hopefully) the fish that lurk beneath. They’re also popular with anyone who wants to reduce the glare of sunlight off shiny or reflective surfaces, such as beachgoers, skiers, joggers, and even cyclists and truck drivers, who often get blinded by glare off windshields and chrome.
HOW POLARIZATION WORKS
Reflected light tends to travel in uniform directions—either in horizontal or vertical planes—which causes glare. Polarized lenses filter or block either horizontal or vertically reflected light waves (usually horizontal), reducing glare. They do not block all polarized light, only light that aligns with the filter. The rest passes through. That’s why when you’re wearing polarized lenses, you can affect the amount of glare that’s reduced simply by tilting your head to change the angle at which light is being reflected at you.
So while dark, non-polarized sunglasses (normal sunglasses) tend decrease the intensity of light reaching you from all directions by similar amounts, polarized lenses tend to ELIMINATE the reflection from light coming from one direction or plane. In other words, polarized lenses work great reducing polarized (horizontal or vertical light reflection), effectively eliminating it, but they don’t eliminate all light from all directions.
It’s also important to note that polarization alone will not protect your eyes against UV rays. However, many polarized lenses are now combined with a UV-blocking substance to offer both protection against glare AND against UV rays.
When buying polarized sunglasses, you will want to check the label on the shades or check with your optometrist to make sure the lenses provide maximum UV protection in addition to polarization.
SHOULD YOU GET POLARIZED LENSES?
If reducing glare is important to your daily activities, then you should at least consider polarized lenses. They’re not only popular, but quite trendy and stylish. And when combined with UV blocking substances, they can provide the UV protection you need.
But they won’t reduce all glare, and aren’t recommended in some circumstances, especially if you need to view liquid crystal displays (LCD) routinely or even your smartphone, GPS, or when using an ATM machine. When the screens of these devices are viewed through polarized lenses, they tend to all but disappear, requiring you to remove your glasses to see them!
GET EDUCATED ABOUT YOUR OPTIONS
While we all want to be stylish and current with the latest trends, just because your colleague or best friend is wearing polarized lenses doesn’t mean they are right for you. Get educated. Go online and read about the myths and truths of polarized lenses, as well as how they work.
If you’re still unsure, talk with your eye care provider. He or she will be able to discuss your specific eye care needs and weigh these with your style and lifestyle choices to come up with a recommendation that’s best for you.
WE’RE HERE TO HELP
The professionals at Sunglass and Optical Warehouse have been offering the greater San Diego area’s largest selection of prescription and non-prescription sunglasses (including polarized lenses) for more than 30 years and counting. Young or old, traditional or high fashion (such as Oakley, Maui Jim, or Rudy Project)—when it comes to sunglasses, we can fit your face with a new pair of shades that are comfortable, effective, and that help you look and see your best.