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Visionary Eye Centre

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Are Polarized Sunglasses Better for Your Eyes?

Sunglasses are essential in the summer months, especially in Alberta, home to some of the sunniest places in Canada

If you’re looking for a new pair of sunglasses, some may recommend polarized lenses. They have many benefits and you do not need a prescription to get them, but are these sunglasses better for your eyes? Continue reading to learn more about polarized sunglasses and how they affect your eyes. 

What are Polarized Sunglasses?

Sunlight can reflect in several different directions off of water, snow, or the hood of your car. When light bounces off of horizontal surfaces, it typically travels in the same direction. 

This can irritate and strain your eyes when dealing with reflecting sunlight for long periods. The associated glare can make it difficult to focus, especially when driving. 

If you do not want to deal with glare, polarized sunglasses are a great option. Utilizing a chemical applied to the lens that filters specific light rays, polarized lens filters create vertical openings for light, so only light rays approaching your eyes vertically can pass through. 

Horizontal light rays reflecting off of water or snow are blocked out by the lens filter. The image you see through your polarized sunglasses may be a little bit darker, but objects appear crisp and clear. The sunglasses help reduce eye strain and many believe it helps them spend time in the sun for longer periods

Polarized sunglasses are effective for people who enjoy the outdoors, and this is especially true if you spend a lot of time fishing, boating, or doing any other water sport. The filter applied to the lens helps to drastically cut down the glare reflecting off of the water. Polarized sunglasses can have many benefits, but are they better for your eyes than non-polarized lenses? 

Are Polarized Sunglasses Better for Your Eyes?

While polarized sunglasses have many benefits, they are not guaranteed to be better for your eyes. The best sunglasses for you are based on preference and what you wish to use your sunglasses for. With this in mind, polarized sunglasses have many benefits and a few setbacks to consider before making your final purchase. 

Advantages 

There are several advantages to owning polarized sunglasses, and these include: 

  • Increased contrast & clearer vision
  • Reduced eye strain 
  • Reduced glare

Increased Contrast & Clearer Vision 

One of the main benefits of polarized sunglasses is the increased contrast and clearer vision you receive. The filter used to block horizontal light rays allow you to see clearly and contrast between objects is amplified because less light is entering your glasses. 

Reduced Eye Strain

The filters on polarized sunglasses work to only allow vertical light rays to pass through, which greatly reduces the amount of sunlight you experience. With non-polarized lenses, you see similar to the naked eye, but you are exposed to a lot of sunlight and glare. 

This can cause you to squint to focus your vision and glare may affect your eyes for multiple hours. If you do this for a long time, your eyes are likely to feel strained and tired at the end of the day. By filtering horizontal light rays, your vision feels more comfortable and you’re less likely to experience eye strain. 

Reduced Glare

Similar to how eye strain is reduced, the filters applied to polarized sunglasses heavily reduce incoming glare. This reduction can help you focus and see better when exposed to sunlight, and is useful when driving. 

Disadvantages 

Despite the benefits of polarized sunglasses, there are a few disadvantages, including: 

LCD Screens

Liquid crystal display (or LCD) screens do not work well with polarized sunglasses, so looking at your phone or the computer dashboard of your car may be difficult when wearing them. LCD screens typically use the same technology as polarized lenses which can cause them to cancel each other out. 

UV Protection 

Polarized sunglasses may be suited to filter sunlight, but cannot guarantee ultraviolet (UV) light protection. Unless they are labeled otherwise, polarized lenses do not protect you from UV exposure. There are polarized lenses with UV protection, but make sure they can protect your eyes. 

Low-Light or Night-Time

The darkened lenses of polarized sunglasses can make it more difficult to see in night-time or low-light situations. Especially when driving, polarized lenses may not be effective. If you have trouble seeing at night, polarized sunglasses may not be the best choice for you. 

These advantages and disadvantages can help you to decide if polarized sunglasses are the right choice for you. If this is difficult, your optometry experts can help you make an informed decision. 

A man wearing polarized sunglasses on a bright and sunny day

Are Polarized Sunglasses Right for You?

If you are debating whether or not to get polarized lenses, determine what you need in a pair of sunglasses. If you spend a lot of time outdoors, these glasses may be a good choice for you. If you prefer a more natural feel for your vision, the heavy filtering of polarized sunglasses may not be suitable for you, and there are alternative options for sunglasses you can look into. 

Alternative Options 

If you are looking for an alternative to polarized sunglasses, there are several types of lenses you can choose from. Alternative options include: 

Regardless of your decision, choose the sunglasses best equipped to fit your personal needs. If you need help making your decision, your optometry office can help

Find the Right Sunglasses for You

Whether you want polarized sunglasses or an alternative option, there is a pair of sunglasses out there for your unique needs. Deciding on the right sunglasses can be difficult, so contact your local optometry office if you need help making an informed decision. 

Dr. Aujla

Dr. Navjot Aujla is a born and raised Albertan, growing up right here in Edmonton. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Alberta, she attended the Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University in Philadelphia. Internship terms across the United States led Dr. Aujla to practice pediatric optometry, work at a veteran’s hospital in Connecticut, and an ophthalmology practice in New Jersey. Since 2011, Dr. Aujla has been both a co-owner and in-house optometrist at Visionary Eye Centre. She loves spending time with her family and travelling to new destinations.

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