How do polarized lenses work?
(Featuring the STRANGE)
Polarized lenses -- if you've ever owned a pair of sunglasses, you're probably familiar with the term. But what do polarized lenses actually do?
To understand the point of polarized sunglasses, let's start by exploring how polarized lenses work.
What is "polarized light"?
Light from the sun hits reflective surfaces and scatters in every possible direction. However, when light hits a flat surface, the reflected light beams move in directions that are more uniform than random--for example, sunlight bounces off the flat top of a shiny chrome car and heads off in a horizontal direction. These horizontal beams are called "polarized light," and they can be dangerous.
Why? Polarized light is much more intense than regular sunlight. It reduces visibility, causes glare, and--in high enough doses--can wreak some serious havoc.
What's so bad about glare?
Glare occurs when sunlight reflects off of bright surfaces, like snow, water, or metal, at such an intensity that it impairs your vision. Glaring sunlight can cause issues like low visibility on the water and snow blindness during the winter. If you're exposed to it long enough, glare can even damage the corneas in your eyes, causing long-term visibility issues.
How do polarized lenses combat glare?
We create "polarized" sunglasses by treating the lenses with a special chemical during the manufacturing process. This chemical coating acts as a filter, blocking polarized light from hitting your sensitive eyes. By reducing the amount of light that gets through your lenses, polarized sunglasses protect your eyes from strain and damage that comes from glare.
Doesn't that mean polarized sunglasses make it harder to see?
It depends on the situation. Polarized sunglasses actually make it much easier to see when you're surrounded by a ton of flat, reflective surfaces--kayaking on the ocean, or working on metal scaffolding on a sunny day, for example. By reducing the glare, polarized lenses bring the details in the world into focus. It's something like turning up the contrast on a picture in Photoshop.
(Image Credit: All About Vision)
Because they reduce light refraction, polarized lenses do reduce the amount of light that gets through from screens. That means it can be harder to read LED screens, like on your phone, your car's clock, or an ATM. It's also why people who use electric readouts--like pilots, boat captains, and some construction workers--should rely on photochromic or non-polarized lenses to be safe.
(P.S. This is why a lot of boat workers have multiple pairs of sunnies--polarized for working on-deck, and non-polarized for reading displays at the helm.)
So, why do I need polarized sunglasses?
Polarized sunnies are critical for people who are exposed to glare for long periods of time: anyone who works outdoors, works with lots of reflective metal, or spends a lot of time on the water. They're the best way to protect your eyes from the sun, the best way to improve visibility when you're dealing with bright surfaces, and the best way to reduce headaches and eye strain if you suffer from light sensitivity issues. Plus--they're stylish!
Sold? Check out our entire collection of polarized sunnies--we dare ya!