What to Know About Polarised Sunglasses

Polarised sunglasses are specialised eyewear designed to reduce glare from surfaces such as water, snow, and glass. Glare distorts the true colour of objects and makes them harder to distinguish.[1]

Polarised sunglasses can be useful for certain sports and driving, helping participants to see more clearly and avoid potential hazards.

How Polarised Lenses Work

Polarised lenses are available in a variety of colours, depending on the material from which the lenses are made. Darker colours provide higher levels of polarisation. Sunlight can be absorbed or reflected in several different directions. 

Sunlight that is bouncing off horizontal surfaces such as water, land, or the hood of a car is usually reflected back in a similar horizontal direction. 

This reflection produces an agitating source of glare that cannot only create visual discomfort but can also cause a potentially blinding glare.[2] Glare has the potential to create a very dangerous situation, especially while driving.

 

Polarised lenses contain a laminated filter that allows only vertically oriented light to pass through. This blocks the horizontally oriented light so that glare is almost eliminated.

The most common colours of polarised lenses are gray and brown. However, depending on the manufacturer, many other colours may be available. Green, yellow, or melanin colours are also very popular colours.

 

Advantages

  • Improves visual comfort
  • Improves contrast and visual clarity
  • Reduces eye strain
  • Allows for true perception of colours
  • Reduces reflections and eliminates glare

Disadvantages

 

By and large, polarisation is the best choice for people concerned about debilitating sunlight and glare. However, there are some who cannot wear them.[3]

Whether the reason is psychological or neurological, there are those who say that the lenses make them feel dizzy or disoriented, while others insist that they create an artificial 3-D effect.

For this subset of individuals, it is possible that the photoreceptor cells at the back of their eyes pick up the vertical light signals differently than the rest of us.[4] Under these circumstances, tinted lenses may be the best option.

There are also occupations that require a worker to be able to read certain digital numbers on a liquid crystal display. Polarised lenses sometimes can interfere with the visibility of the numbers and should be avoided.

How to Tell If Your Lenses Are Polarised


Grab a pair of polarised sunglasses.Place the lens of your sunglasses at a 90-degree angle to the lens of the drugstore sunglasses.If the combined lenses turn dark or nearly black, your sunglasses are polarised.

Click here to check our #EverydayPolarized sunglasses collection.

Article Sources

Florentine Eyewear uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Shaw JA, Vollmer M. Blue sun glints on water viewed through a polarizer. Appl Opt. 2017;56(19):G36-G41. doi:10.1364/AO.56.000G36
  2. Borkenstein AF, Borkenstein EM. Polarized glasses may help in symptomatic cases of intraocular lens glistenings. Clin Optom (Auckl). 2019;11:57-62. doi:10.2147/OPTO.S202796
  3. Kepecs MR, Boro A, Haut S, Kepecs G, Moshé SL. A Novel Nonpharmacologic Treatment for Photosensitive Epilepsy: A Report of Three Patients Tested with Blue Cross‐polarized Glasses. Epilepsia. 2004;45(9):1158-1162. doi:10.1111/j.0013-9580.2004.07004.x
  4. Cronin TW; Handling editor: Becky Fuller. A different view: sensory drive in the polarized-light realm. Curr Zool. 2018;64(4):513-523. doi:10.1093/cz/zoy040