Polarized Sunglasses Facts

Polarized sunglasses were designed for fishermen, boaters and other individuals who were planning to spend long periods of time on the water. The polarization decreases the reflected glare from the water.

Who else can benefit from polarized sunglasses?

In addition to fishermen and boaters, polarized sunglasses have become popular with others who enjoy spending time outdoors. Many golfers, bikers, joggers and skiers also use polarized sunglasses now. They are a great option for anyone who is taking a long car trip and wishes to decrease glare from both the car's hood and the surface of the road. Polarized sunglasses are also helpful to anyone who is sensitive to light, including people recovering from cataract surgery.

How do polarized sunglasses work?

When light reflects off of surfaces such as calm water or a smooth road, it is polarized horizontally. Instead of having the light reflected in many different directions in the patterns that it typically does, it tends to travel primarily in a horizontal orientation. As many people have experienced at some point in their lives, this can be irritating and even dangerous, as it often creates a significant glare. Polarized sunglasses have a special kind of filter that is designed to block out this type of light, reducing the glare.

Are there other types of polarized glasses?

Polarization technology is used in some 3-D movie glasses. Typically, one lens has horizontal polarization and the second lens has vertical polarization. This allows each eye to view a slightly different rendition of the movie screen. As the two eyes try to accommodate the two images for the brain, they produce a three-dimensional image.

Are there any disadvantages of polarized sunglasses?

While polarized sunglasses do provide increased visibility and comfort in a number of outdoor settings, there are some situations where it is not advisable to wear these lenses. One of the most common examples is downhill skiing. Polarized sunglasses can block out light that is reflecting off of icy patches on a mountain, which can be hazardous if skiers do not see this ice.

Polarized sunglasses can prevent people from viewing many LCD screens, found on such items as point-and-shoot digital cameras, dashboards in certain types of cars, ATMs, GPS devices and cell phones. This is especially important for pilots and boaters, who need to make very quick decisions based on information from navigational instrument panels.

Polarized sunglasses are not as effective when the sun is low on the horizon or is directly overhead. This is because of the angle of the reflected light waves and how it changes from its horizontal configuration.

However, these drawbacks do not detract from the fact that polarized sunglasses are still a desirable option for a wide variety of outdoor settings.

What types of specialty polarized sunglasses are available?

Several polarized lenses are on the market that combine polarization with additional features for specific outdoor settings.

Do you enjoy outdoor sports and have presbyopia? Consider polarized bifocal sunglasses or progressive lenses.

If you'll be in and out of the sun on a regular basis throughout the day and have light sensitivity, look for polarized photochromic lenses. They will change from light to dark and back again as you make these transitions.

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