Polarized lenses have become popular but are they really beneficial and worth the extra cost? If you spend a lot of time on the road, on the golf course, on the water or in the mountains, polarized lenses are a good investment. They reduce harmful (and annoying) glare on reflective surfaces like pavement and water, making objects appear clearer—like a golf ball, highway lines or a trail deep in the woods. Not only is glare a nuisance, it impairs depth perception, distorts your view and colors, and can cause temporarily blindness, so the extra cost is worth it for many—especially athletes. Even if you’re not an athlete, we’ve all gotten the sun in our eyes while driving and it can be scary.
Non-polarized sunglasses only reduce the amount of light that comes through the lenses, so you still get glare. Dark tinted glasses block more light than regular sunglasses but they still don’t eliminate harsh glare as do polarized lenses. Also, if you do opt for dark lenses over polarized, make sure that they provide UV protection. Dark lenses without UV protection are actually worse for your eyes than not wearing sunglasses at all because they can cause your pupils to dilate, which allow more UV rays to enter the inner part of your eyes.
While polarized lenses are widely used by fisherman and other athletes, wearing polarized glasses in certain conditions, such as downhill skiing or driving in winter weather conditions, could be dangerous. Some experts say that polarization may reduce your ability to distinguish between regular snow and dangerous conditions such as ice.
Types of Polarized Lenses
Wondering why some polarized sunglasses cost more than others? Other than paying for brand name and craftsmanship, there are two types of polarized lenses–.75 mm and 1.1 mm. The .75 mm lenses work great for casual sports and everyday wear, when resistance to breakage isn’t a big concern. The thicker lenses provide enhanced glare reduction and higher polarization, justifying the higher price tag.
If you’re not sure what lenses are best for you, make an appointment to see your local eye doctor.