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What Are Polarized Sunglasses? Benefits and More

If you love to spend time in the great outdoors, you’ve probably experienced the glare that can come along with a bright, sunny day. While those days are perfect for hiking, fishing, skiing, and more, having a good time often boils down to being able to actually see what you’re doing.

This is where polarized sunglasses come in. You may have heard that they are the ultimate for any outdoor activity, but how do polarized lenses work, and what are the benefits? Read on to learn more about polarized lenses and why they’re important.

What Are Polarized Sunglasses?

Polarized sunglasses are normal sunglasses that have been specially treated to filter sunlight. While there are a few benefits of wearing polarized lenses (more on that later), the main purpose of these sunglasses is to reduce glare.

Unfiltered sunlight tends to bounce around quite a bit, often containing both vertical and horizontal wavelengths of light. However, when sunlight bounces off of a flat, reflective surface, such as snow, bodies of water, or asphalt, it’s usually made up of only horizontal light.

Polarized sunglass lenses (also called anti-reflective lenses) are designed with vertical openings so that only vertical light can get through. This not only helps block reflected light but also helps focus sunlight, reducing overall light interference and helping clear up your visual field.

The ending effect can cause the picture to look a little darker but also more crisp.

What Are the Benefits of Wearing Polarized Lenses?

Now that we know the science behind polarized lenses, let’s move on to the more important part — why should you wear polarized sunglasses? Here are some of the top reasons people from all walks of life like to have a pair of polarized glasses by their sides.

Glare Reduction

When you’re hiking in Yellowstone National Park (or any hiking trail, for that matter), one of the best parts of the experience is the views. Between sprawling countrysides and serene mountainscapes, half the fun is seeing the nature you’re surrounded by.

However, if the sun is out, it might be hard to see all of the beautiful sights because of the glare. You could even hurt your eyes if the glare is too bright. Luckily, polarized sunglasses can help with this.

Because of the polarization, these glasses can block glare that comes from both reflected light and direct sunlight. This can help open up your visual field so that you can enjoy the views.

See More Color

One of the benefits of removing glare is that you can see everything much clearer. With less light competing for attention, small details and colors become much more defined.

When you’ve just walked several miles for a view, you’ll want to soak in as much as you can. Wearing polarized glasses can help your visual field look more saturated and allow you to see more of the world around you, which can take your outdoor activities up a notch.

Reduce Eye Strain

Lastly, wearing polarized sunglasses can help reduce eye strain so that you can enjoy your activities for longer. Since the special lenses reduce glare and make things easier to see, you can spend less time straining to pick out details and more time simply being in the moment.

Keeping the glare out of your eyes can also protect your vision for the long term. If you’ve ever spent a sunny day out on the water, then you already know how much it can hurt your eyes to see the sunlight reflecting off of the water. By filtering the light that reaches your eyes, you can avoid short-term and long-term damage to your eye health.

When Should You Wear Polarized Sunglasses?

With all of these benefits, it might already be obvious that the best time to wear polarized lenses is when you’re going to be exposed to the sun’s glare.

Great times to wear polarized sunglasses include:

  • Riding on a boat
  • Swimming in a lake
  • Hiking in the sun
  • Laying on the beach
  • Driving during the day

However, there are also times when you might want to swap out your polarized lenses for regular, non-polarized lenses. For instance, if you’re driving at night, filtering the light you see can actually significantly reduce your visibility.

Polarized glasses might also not be the best sunglasses if you need to look at a liquid crystal display (LCD). LCD screens (such as the ones used by your phone and television) emit horizontal light, which is blocked by polarized lenses. This means that if you’re using polarized sunglasses, you might not even be able to see your screen.

How Are Polarized and UV Glasses Different?

If you’re shopping around for a pair of sunglasses, you may have run into the term “UV protection” before. Is this the same as polarization?

While the two are very closely related, they are very distinct treatments. UV protective lenses are designed to filter out UV wavelengths of light. Meanwhile, polarized lenses are designed to filter out horizontal light waves.

Both are extremely important, and UV protection in particular is an important part of holistic eye care. Ultraviolet radiation is what causes both sunburn and early signs of aging — if you’ve ever gotten freckles or a sunburn, you’ve seen its effects. Over time, unfiltered UV rays can damage your eyes and even cause macular degeneration and cataracts.

Eyeglasses with UV protection can help minimize your exposure to harmful UV rays, especially if you spend a lot of time in bright sunlight.

How Do Polarized Sunglasses and Blue Light Glasses Compare?

Polarized sunglasses and blue light glasses may also sound similar but are very different. Blue light glasses also make use of a filter treatment on the lenses — however, the glasses are treated to filter out blue wavelengths of light instead of vertical light waves.

Blue light is a natural part of our environment, but artificial lights can sometimes contain higher concentrations of blue light than you’d normally see in nature. For instance, electronic devices with LED screens and LED home lighting can emit higher concentrations of blue light.

Too much exposure to blue light can interfere with your circadian rhythm, potentially causing trouble sleeping and higher levels of stress. This lack of sleep can then lead to other long-term health issues.

Blue light glasses can help minimize your exposure to these wavelengths of light, and many people use them when looking at screens or when working under bright lights at night.

How Can You Tell if Lenses Are Polarized?

One of the best ways to tell if your lenses are polarized is to look through them. If the view is darker, more crisp, and more saturated, then your glasses may be polarized.

Another way you can check is by holding both of your lenses together and then rotating one 90 degrees. Since polarized lenses block horizontal light waves, doing this should significantly block most light waves. The picture should be very dim or even completely dark.

Finally, you can always ask the manufacturer or your optometrist. At Pair Eyewear, all of our sunglass lenses are polarized and feature both UVA and UVB ray protection. Whether the glare is getting to you or you just want some extra protection during the day, our lenses go above and beyond.

How Else Can You Take Care of Your Eye Health?

Wearing glasses with special lens treatments is one way to take care of your eye health, but how else can you protect your eyes for the long term? Here are a few ways you can support your eyesight and make sure you can enjoy the views for many years to come.

Limit Screen Time

We all love to end the evening with our favorite Netflix binge, but too much screen time can have harmful effects on your vision. For instance, excessive screen time can contribute to dry eye, eye strain, and even myopia, a condition that causes blurry vision and nearsightedness.

To take care of your eye health, make sure you take breaks from screen time and get outside. Being exposed to natural light can help give your eyes a rest from the strain of screens.

It’s also important to limit up-close time, such as time spent reading, studying, or doing work on a screen. Instead, try reading a paperback book, making flash cards, or using voice-to-text to jot down ideas.

In general, you may want to limit screen time as much as you can. There are no widely agreed-upon rules for how much time you should aim for, so the important thing is to be aware of your eye health. If you start getting blurry vision or eye strain, it’s time to put down the screens.

Take Frequent Breaks

It’s also important to take breaks, especially when you’re looking at screens. Giving your eyes a chance to rest can help prevent strain.

There are no rules for this — as before, just pay attention to how you’re feeling. If you feel signs of strain, put down what you’re doing and take a walk outside.

You may find yourself needing breaks when you’re looking at screens, but you might also need to take more eye breaks whenever you do something that requires close attention to detail. For instance, you might experience more strain when reading in dim lighting, knitting, or drawing.

If taking breaks is hard for you, try setting an alarm so you don’t forget. For example, every 20 minutes, you could take a quick break to do some quick eye exercises. Then, every hour or two, you could take a quick five-minute walk outside. This is especially important for anyone who’s working from home, since this often requires many hours in front of a screen.

Eat Eye-Supporting Foods

Eyes need specific nutrients to do their jobs, so making sure you get all of these nutrients is yet another way you can support your eye health in the long run.

Nutrients that are key for eye health include:

  • Vitamin C: This nutrient can be found in citrus fruits and bell peppers.
  • Vitamin E: This can be found in almonds, avocados, and olive oil.
  • Zinc: You can find zinc in beans, meats, and eggs.
  • Lutein: Lutein is a member of the carotenoid family and can be found in kale, broccoli, raspberries, and papayas.
  • Zeaxanthin: This is also a carotenoid and is usually found in all the same foods as lutein.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: You can find omega-3s in chia seeds, some algae, and seafood.

Eating an eye-healthy diet doesn’t just stop at what you should eat — it also includes staying away from foods that can harm your eyesight.

For instance, simple carbs can spike blood sugar, which has been linked to eye conditions like macular degeneration. This includes bread, rice, potatoes, and sugar. Also, eating foods high in salt may raise your blood pressure, which can also negatively affect your eyesight.

Practice Eye Exercises

Another way you can support your eye health is to try some eye exercises. These exercises can help you work the muscles in your eyes and strengthen them over time, which can ultimately help your vision and help reduce eye strain.

Some exercises you can try include:

  • Shifting your focus: Hold an object in front of your face and stay focused on it as you move it away from your face. Try to shift your focus from the object to another object in the distance, then bring the first object back toward you while staying focused on it.
  • Practicing range of motion: Slowly move your eyes up, then down, and then side to side. Repeat a few times to help address eye strain.
  • Increasing eye strength: Hold an object away from your face, then slowly bring it in toward your nose. Keep your focus on the object until you see two of it, then pull it away from your face. Repeat a few times and increase reps as you get more comfortable with it.

Visit Your Optometrist

Finally, make sure you schedule regular eye exams with your optometrist. Just as regular medical checkups can help your doctor stay on top of your physical health, regular visits with your optometrist can help them catch any vision concerns before they spiral out of control.

It’s generally a good idea to see your optometrist at least once a year. You can also see them more often if you have any specific concerns, and you may want to see them more often if you work on a computer. If you’re not sure how often you should see your optometrist, just talk to them to come up with a schedule that meets your needs.

The Bottom Line

Polarized sunglasses have been the standard for outdoor eyewear for a long time, and it’s easy to see why (no pun intended). Between their ability to reduce glare and their ability to enhance the view in front of you, these specially treated lenses aren’t just important for your eye health — they can also help you find more enjoyment in the world around you.

Here at Pair Eyewear, we understand the importance of being able to be fully immersed in whatever you’re trying to experience, especially when it comes to all of the opportunities the world has to offer. That’s why all of our sunglass lenses are polarized.

Browse our selection of popular eyeglass frame tops today to find a pair that speaks to you, and check out the Pair Eyewear blog for more insights into your sight.


Blue light has a dark side | Harvard Health

Ultraviolet (UV) protection | AOA

Screen time in adults: how much is too much? | My Kids Vision

Diet and Nutrition | American Academy of Ophthalmology

Eye Exercises You Can Do at Home |