When shopping for sunglasses, you may have seen the term “polarized” being used. The option to get your lenses polarized comes with almost every pair of shades that you buy. You may be wondering why polarized sunglasses are more popular now or if they’re even that important, to begin with. Here, we’ll break down exactly what polarized lenses are and how to tell if your sunglasses are polarized.
How do polarized sunglasses work?
The science behind polarized sunglasses is both complex and impressive. In their natural state, light waves scatter in any direction. When they are reflected off of a flat or polished surface, the waves will then go in a single horizontal direction, which creates what we often see as harsh glare. Polarized sunglasses work by using a special chemical coating that filters out the harsh horizontal light waves while allowing softer vertical waves to pass through.
The benefit of polarized lenses
Most sunglasses have standard tinted lenses that will reduce the strain on your eyes and improve visibility. These are usually sufficient for conditions with moderate sunlight. However, you may be in an environment where you’ll need lenses that are more specialized. For instance, glare can be very overwhelming on bright, sunny days if you’re surrounded by water, windows, and other flat reflective surfaces. The benefit of wearing polarized lenses is that they will reduce the intensity of the glare you’ll normally see in such places.
How to tell if sunglasses are polarized
Most of us already have a pair of sunglasses that we use on a regular basis. How can you tell if they’re polarized? Here are a few tips:
Perform a computer polarized test
One easy way to tell if a pair of sunnies has polarized lenses is by looking at a computer or other LCD screens. This is because most modern computer screens use the same technology to reduce glare as polarized lenses. If you use polarized lenses while looking at a computer monitor, you’ll notice that some portions of the screen will go blank or dark.
Look at water
Another way to test if your sunglasses are polarized is to look at the sunlight reflecting off any body of water. If your sunglasses are polarized, then you should be able to see through the glare and into the water.
Compare two pairs
If your friend has polarized sunglasses, you can compare them to your own shades to see the difference. Hold them up and look through the lenses at the same time. Then, rotate the glasses about 60 degrees. The polarized pair should darken as they filter out excess light. If yours does the same, then you have polarized lenses. You won’t notice any difference if your sunglasses are not polarized.
Check the label
You may still have the original packaging from your sunglasses lying around somewhere. In this case, it would be good to check the label to determine whether or not your sunglasses are polarized. You might also be able to tell if your sunglasses are polarized by inspecting the glasses themselves. Some manufacturers etch the word “polarized” onto the bottom edge of the left lens.
The Bottom Line
Having a pair of polarized sunglasses can be advantageous, especially if you are often outdoors under harsh lighting conditions. There are different ways to tell if your current pair of sunglasses has polarized lenses, and this can help you determine whether your shades need an upgrade depending on your needs.