Are Polarized Sunglasses Worth the Extra Cost?
If you’re eyeballing an expensive pair of shades (sunglasses can cost hundreds of dollars for brand names) you might want to take a few minutes and think about whether or not they’re worth it. There’s a style to consider. And color. And shape and size. But what about polarization, which usually adds to the ticket price of sunnies? What exactly is polarization? Is the cost worth it? And does it actually impact UV protection, which is so important to eye health? You might want to take off your rose-colored glasses before making what could be an expensive purchase and read up on the facts instead.
What is Polarization?
Polarization is a chemical process during which a special film is applied to sunglass lenses during manufacturing. Because it reorganizes the way light comes through the glasses, certain light waves are filtered out, resulting in less glare to the wearer.
What are the Benefits of Polarization?
Here’s an eye-opener: Sunglasses don’t need to be polarized to protect your eyes from UV rays; non-polarized shades can also protect your eyes from the sun. All sunnies sold in the U.S. have to comply with the ANSI Z80.3-2001 safety standard that addresses UV transmission.
Polarized lenses can help you see more clearly, improve color perception, and reduce eye strain, making them a good choice if you’re planning on working or playing outdoors or doing extensive driving. In addition, because they reduce glare polarized lenses lessen the perceived brightness of reflective surfaces such as the ocean, snowy landscapes, or a line of shiny cars backed up on a traffic-filled highway. Most polarized glasses offer UV protection but be sure to check the sunglasses label for both polarization and UV protection.
Are your Sunglasses Polarized?
Most sunglasses on the market today offer full-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Oftentimes, you’ll find a sticker on one of the lenses indicating the UV protection rating or you can discern the answer in the string of numbers and letters printed on the inside of the glasses frame along the arm. The last number, a standalone digit, corresponds to the lens category, which ranges from 0 (translucent with no UV protection) to 4 (darkest tint). For full UV protection look for category 2 and higher.
Want to check for polarization? Look no further than your computer or your phone. Hold your sunglasses in front of the screen and rotate them; if the coloration shifts, the glasses are polarized.