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What Are Polarized Sunglasses and Are They Better for Your Eyes?

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If you’ve been shopping for a new pair of sunglasses or have heard about polarized lenses, you may wonder what they are and what makes them different from regular sunglasses.

Polarized sunglasses have a special filter that helps reduce glare caused by sunlight reflecting off flat surfaces such as water, snow, and windshields. The filter cuts down on the horizontal light waves that cause glare, resulting in a clearer, more comfortable view. While they typically offer the same level of UV protection as other sunglasses, they can help minimize eye strain and fatigue.

While they are not a substitute for UV protection, polarized sunglasses can offer significant benefits that can enhance your outdoor activities.

What Are Polarized Sunglasses?

Polarized sunglasses are sunglass lenses that reduce glare and improve clarity. They work by filtering out light that reflects off certain surfaces, such as water, snow, or pavement. This light, called polarized light, can cause visual discomfort and even temporary blindness.

Polarized lenses are coated with a chemical that blocks polarized light, reducing glare and improving visibility outdoors, especially in bright conditions.

Are Polarized Sunglasses Better for Your Eyes?

While polarized lenses don’t protect your eyes from UV damage more than standard 100% UV lenses, they offer some added benefits

Polarized lenses can:

  • Reduce glare and improve vision clarity: Polarized lenses filter out glare and reflected light, which can be especially useful outdoors around water, snow, or other bright surfaces.
  • Significantly reduce eye strain and nullify blinding glare: Because polarized sunglasses reduce brightness and glare, they can help minimize eye strain and fatigue, especially during long periods in bright environments.
  • Improve your vision clarity in bright situations: Similar to how polarized sunglasses reduce glare and improve clarity, they can also help with visual acuity in bright environments. It makes them useful for activities like driving, where objects may become washed out or hard to see in bright conditions.
  • Can be particularly useful for outdoor activities such as driving, fishing, or skiing: Because polarized lenses reduce glare and improve vision clarity, they’re particularly useful for outdoor activities where bright light or reflected light can cause visual discomfort or compromise safety. 
A young cold-weather hiker wearing polarized lenses to protect her eyes from glare.

The Difference Between Polarized & UV Protection Sunglasses

When selecting the right pair of sunglasses, there are 2 common types of protection: polarized and UV protection. While they may seem similar, the 2 have some key differences. 

Polarized Sunglasses

Not all polarized lenses offer UV protection, so if you’re in the market for polarized lenses, check that they also offer 100% UV protection. Polarized lenses can enhance clarity, reduce eye strain, and prevent blinding glare caused by light reflecting off surfaces, but polarization itself doesn’t protect against UV rays. 

UV Protection Sunglasses

UV protection sunglasses are designed to protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet radiation. UV rays can cause short-term and long-term damage to your eyes, so wearing proper protection when outside for long periods is essential.

UV protection sunglasses may come with or without polarized lenses. They offer complete UV protection, meaning they block out both UVA and UVB rays. This protection is essential as prolonged exposure to UV radiation can cause cataracts, macular degeneration, and other eye problems.

How to Choose the Right Polarized Sunglasses

When shopping for polarized sunglasses, there are a few things to keep in mind, including the quality, level of protection, and color. 

Look for Quality Brands

The brand of sunglasses you choose matters. Higher-quality brands tend to have better-performing lenses that offer more protection and clearer vision.

Check for Complete UV Protection

While many polarized lenses have UV protective coatings, not all will have them. To keep your eyes healthy, check that your sunglasses offer 100% UV protection.

Know the Right Color

Different colored lenses are designed for different activities, so make sure you choose the right color for your needs. For example, gray lenses are good for general outdoor activities, while brown lenses are better for fishing or other water-related sports.

Find the Best Sunglasses for You at Park Slope Eye

At Park Slope Eye, we offer a mix of world-renowned eyewear brands and innovative technology that allows us to provide a personalized experience each time you visit us.

Visit us today so we can help you find the perfect pair of sunglasses for your lifestyle. Whether that includes polarized lenses or just UV protection, we carry a wide selection of both types so that you can make an informed decision about what kind of lens is right for you.


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  • Written by Justin Bazan

    Dr. Justin Bazan is a 2004 SUNY College of Optometry graduate. He established Park Slope Eye in 2008 with the goal of providing high quality eyecare and incredible eyewear for the neighborhood. He has a true passion for optometry and stay up to date with the current research and trends. He is active in the profession and holds several leadership positions on the local, state and national levels. Dr. Bazan is a Park Slope local and can often be seen out in the neighborhood so be sure to say Hi next time you see him!

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