What are Polarized Sunglasses?

June 27, 2020

Happy National Sunglasses Day!

In honor of this fun optical holiday, everyone should know what it means when a pair of sunglasses are polarized. If you have ever tried a pair of polarized sunglasses, you know the difference it makes on glare and visual clarity. What is the difference between regular tinted sunglasses versus polarized sunglasses? Keep reading and you’ll find out!


What are polarized sunglasses?

In order to learn how a polarization filter works, it helps to first understand the reflective properties of light rays. Sunlight scatters light rays in every direction, which is quite disorganized. When the sunlight hits a flat surface, it reflects in a more organized manner and usually is directed horizontally. This type of reflected light is what causes bothersome glare and visual discomfort.

Polarized sunglasses utilize a polarization filter to minimize the transmission of light rays through the lenses. The horizontal light rays that are reflected from flat surfaces get filtered or blocked out of the polarized lenses. Polarized filters only allow vertical light rays to pass through the lenses, which helps eliminate the glare from horizontal light rays and sharpens vision in the process.


What are the benefits of polarized sunglasses?

Glare can be temporarily blinding, which can certainly be dangerous when operating a car or boat. Polarized sunglasses dramatically decrease this debilitating glare. Although polarized lenses appear darker than sunglasses without polarization, the vision is crisper and details are more noticeable. In addition to improved visual comfort, colors appear more accurate as there isn’t a distorted perception of colors as there is with tinted lenses.

A more obvious benefit of sunglasses is UV protection. Harmful UV rays can lead to early formation of cataracts, play a role in the development of macular degeneration, and cause cancerous lesions on the eyelids.


Who should wear polarized sunglasses?

Just about any (and every) one should wear polarized sunglasses. Ophthalmic grade sunglasses from our optical dispensary can be made with or without a prescription. Polarized sunglasses are especially useful for people who spend a lot of time near water, whether it is for fishing, boating, or lounging at the beach or pool. The relatively flat surface of the water causes extra glare. People who spend a lot of time driving may also benefit from polarized sunglasses as they block glare from the hoods of vehicles when driving.

While polarized sunglasses are an excellent option for most people, there are some instances when the polarization may hinder vision. When downhill skiing, it is important to see reflected light on the snow as a warning of an icy patch. Some people may also have difficulty seeing liquid crystal displays (LCDs) and digital screens while wearing polarized glasses.



If you have never worn a pair of polarized prescription sunglasses, we highly recommend you give them a try. You’ll be very happy you did! Call our office (717-652-7710) to schedule an appointment with an optician to browse our new selection of sunglasses that can be made with your customized prescription and choice of lenses.