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Polarzied Sunglasses vs Non-Polarized Sunglasses

Updated on August 23, 2017

Why Spend The Extra Money?

In the world of sunglasses, there are many different categories of locs to consider when searching for a new pair: metal vs plastic, frame design vs lens, which brand to get. You could spend a lifetime delving into the different types of shades and figuring out exactly what you want. Today's topic is about one of the most important qualities you can get in your sunglasses: polarization. If you've ever done any searching online on some of the bigger brand sunglasses, I'm sure you've seen both Polarized and non-Polarized versions of some of your favorites. How can you justify spending the extra $30 to $100 for a polarized model? What does polarization even do for you? Well if you've ever wondered about any of these things I'm sure I can shed some light (ha!) on the situation for you. Let's take a look into the world of Polarization!

Polarized Sunglasses: What Are They? - (aka What Does That Button Do?)

This image shows how light is filtered by directionally polarized material.
This image shows how light is filtered by directionally polarized material.

Polarization has several different meanings depending on the field you are applying it to. In the case of sunglasses, polarized lenses have microscopic crystals of herapathite which are lined up much like a picket fence, with equal spacing between each crystal. These crystals then absorb waves that are polarized parallel (traveling in the same direction) to the crystals, while letting in waves that are polarized perpendicularly (traveling at a 90 degree angle) to them. Put simply, they will block out the harmful light from reaching your eyes while allowing the rest of the light waves travel to your eyes, allowing you to see. Sunglasses lens that are polarized are going to have the crystals manipulated so that they will block out the waves that are most dangerous to your eyes: ultra violet and blue light. As a little side note, if you take two pairs of polarized sunglasses and line the lenses up, then turn one pair of shades 90 degrees, the lenses will appear to completely black out. This is because when you take a pair of sunglasses that blocks vertical traveling light waves and then block the remaining waves with a horizontal polarized lens (taking another pair and turning them sideways) you proceed to block ALL light that would travel through the lenses. You need some light to make it through the lens, otherwise you would not be able to see at all. Sunglasses that are polarized are going to block more harmful sunlight for your eyes than any other pair of sunglasses, with the exception of an eye-patch (and I don't even think those count as sunglasses).

Showing eye love.
Showing eye love.

Polarized Sunglasses: What Does That Mean For Me?

(aka What Polarization Can Do For You!)

That's all fine and dandy (and pretty scientific sounding). But at it's basics, what does this mean for you? Well for starters, blocking all those harmful light waves can be crucial to securing the health of your peepers. Without sunglasses, your eyes can look directly at the sun for one whole hour before forming cataracts. After two hours, you will go permanently blind. Continuing to look at the sun from this point on can lead to cancer as well as a slew of other not-so-good conditions (at which time, you will most likely not need sunglasses anymore). Polarized sunglasses block between 95% and 99% of these harmful rays, extending the time your eyes can be out in direct sunlight by hours. Even glare from bright surfaces or snow can cause these very dangerous conditions. You wouldn't work all day in the sun without putting on suntan lotion, unless you like looking like a deep fried lobster and shedding skin like a dog sheds all over the carpet. Why would you not protect your eyes? Also, sunglasses with decent polarization also help with outdoor activities and driving. Research suggests that people who wear sunglasses on sunny days find their eyes do not become tired nearly as quickly as those without. Outdoor athletes have utilized polarized lenses on long days to stay a bit more attentive and get the jump on their rivals. People who drive on sunny days with their shades on do not suffer from "road mirages" caused by heat, see signs and road markings more clearly and do not fall asleep behind the wheel as often as people who do not wear shades. So as you can see, wearing polarized lenses can mean the world to your eyes. Show your eyes some love.

When Should I Get Polarized Sunglasses? - (aka The Time vs Money Issue)

Many shades for many aspects of life!
Many shades for many aspects of life!

Well now that you have gotten your dose of science for the day, time to break it down to what you need to know: when should I buy polarized sunglasses? Let's break it down to a simple list:

You Should Buy Polarized Sunglasses If:

* When competing in a sport involving being outdoors in direct sunlight for extended periods of time.

* You plan on doing a lot of driving in sunny conditions or for extended periods of time.

* You have a family history of eye diseases or have an eye disease already (cataracts, glaucoma, "floaters", etc.)

You Do Not Need Polarized Sunglasses If:

* You wear the sunglasses for short periods of time.

* Do not spend a lot of time outside (no sports, work, driving, etc.)

* You wear sunglasses in low light conditions.

There are many more factors but these are the big ones. If you spend a lot of time outdoors for any reason or have a family history of eye diseases than you are much more susceptible to damage caused by harmful light rays. It is ALWAYS worth the extra money to buy a polarized set of sunglasses in these instances. For those people who don't spend a lot of time outdoors or simply use the sunglasses as a fashion statement, polarized lenses are not a necessity. However, polarized sunglasses will always be better for your eyes, regardless of the conditions. I have several pairs of polarized sunglasses I have gotten from and so far my eyesight is one of the few things not failing me (I have to imagine there is a correlation). So remember that the next time you intend to spend some money on some sweet stunnas. You never know when a decent polarized lens will save your life (or more than likely your eyes).

Polarized Sunglasses or Not? - (Tell Me Which Ones YOU Prefer!)

Everybody has a favorite pair of shades (you know, typically the ones you see them wearing in about 100 photos of them on Facebook making ALMOST the exact same pose). Tell me, are they polarized or not? I want to know!

Are Your Favorite Locs Polarized or Not?

How Do You Feel About Polarized Sunglasses? - (Show Them Some Love!)

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    • jennasm lm profile image

      jennasm lm 

      7 years ago

      Nice lens. Tons of information. I think most people don't really know what polarized sunglasses are, but just know that it's something they should want.


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