Polarized Sunglasses Basics: What Are Polarized Sunglasses?

Do you ever find yourself suddenly blinded by a strong ray of light, reflected off of a piece of glass or metal? Sometimes this situation can be especially dangerous, for example when one is driving. You might even be wearing sunglasses, but while those dim overall light, they can eliminate those sudden glares. That’s where polarized sunglasses come in, and save the day!

Polarized Sunglasses Basics: What Are Polarized Sunglasses?

In this article, I will tell you absolutely everything you need to know about polarized sunglasses, including how they work, what makes polarized sunglasses different, which situations and sports they are best for, and lastly, where to get the best polarized sunglasses for women. Enjoy!

What Are Polarized Sunglasses?

In the simplest terms, polarized sunglasses are glasses that reduce blinding glare. In slightly more complicated terms, polarized sunglasses are glasses covered in a chemical film that absorbs horizontal light waves – the light waves responsible for glare. The result is no more moments of blinding light, and overall clarity in one’s vision.

How Do Polarized Sunglasses Work?

The dangerous glare occurs when rays of sunlight, which tend to go in all directions, are reflected on a flat surface. These rays are sent only in one direction, which makes them much more powerful.

The lenses of the polarized sunglasses themselves are made of polyvinyl acetate, which is dipped in iodine. When those magnified rays pass through those lenses, which have been “polarized”, because they only come from one direction, the lenses are able to eliminate them either partially or completely.

What Is the Difference Between Tinted Glasses and Polarized Glasses?

Tinted sunglasses are simply darkened, so they reduce the overall amount of light one sees. However, they are unable to reduce harsh glare. You can still be blinded by a strong ray of light when wearing regular sunglasses.

However, the film over the polarized sunglasses doesn’t reduce all light, it simply absorbs the light that hits it all from one direction, so that you can still see clearly, without worrying about glare. Polarized sunglasses target a much more specific issue, while also making one’s vision much clearer.

Lastly, unlike regular tinted glasses, polarized sunglasses are able to more thoroughly protect the eyes from destructive UV damage.

Difference Between Tinted Glasses and Polarized Glasses

What Is the Difference Between 100% UV Protection on Sunglasses and Polarized Sunglasses?

So while polarized sunglasses do offer quite a bit of UV protection, they do not necessarily filter away all UV. 100% UV protected sunglasses, however, fully protect the eyes from both sun damage to the skin around the eyes, as well as sun damage to the eyes themselves, that could degrade one’s vision over time.

Nowadays, most reputable brands make polarized sunglasses that also offer full UV protection, so you do not have to compromise on either clarity or sun protection!

What Are the Benefits of Polarized Sunglasses?

There are many benefits to wearing polarized sunglasses. The obvious ones are that polarized sunglasses reduce glare, and ensure that you won’t experience sudden momentary blindness because of a stray ray of light. The UV protection they offer is also extremely beneficial for long-term eye health.

In addition to that, the same ability to absorb light can also make one’s vision much clearer. Sometimes, when the sun is too strong, whatever we see in front of us becomes overly saturated, to the point where details can totally disappear.

Think, for example, about a person standing in front of a bright light – because all you can see is the light, the person in front of it is just a dark silhouette. When wearing polarized sunglasses, however, the light becomes neutralized, and the person standing in front of it is fully visible.

Polarized sunglasses can also help reduce computer glare. If you work with computers all day and find you are starting to develop eye strain or headaches, brightness and glare might be at fault. Polarized sunglasses should be able to block extra light, and make long-term computer work much less harmful to the eyes.

Lastly, polarized sunglasses make it possible to see more clearly through bodies of water. Normally, we can’t see through water in the daytime, because it reflects light. Instead of seeing what is below the surface, we see a reflection of the sky.

Since polarized sunglasses absorb the reflection, it is possible to see what is in the water very clearly. However, this only works if you look at the water from an angle. If you look at it from straight up, it will not work.

What Are the Drawbacks of Polarized Sunglasses?

There aren’t many drawbacks to wearing polarized sunglasses, but they do exist, and are important to know. Before deciding whether to wear polarized sunglasses, regular sunglasses, or no glasses at all, you must consider what kind of activities you will be engaging in.

For regular driving, for example, a sudden blinding glare can be extremely dangerous, since it could distract the driver and cause a car accident. However, while skiing or snowboarding, the glare from a patch of ice could warn the skier that they should avoid a particularly dangerous spot. The same could apply for motorcyclists, who might not recognize wet pavement.

Polarized sunglasses can also make it more difficult to judge distances and sizes, because they alter the look of light and shadow. This could be dangerous for any sort of sport that requires careful maneuvering through uneven terrains.

Lastly, polarized sunglasses can sometimes interfere with backlit screens, like cell phones and computer screens. While they can give the eyes some relief from a bright computer screen, they might also make it harder for you to read your text messages or check Facebook.

Which Sports Are Polarized Sunglasses Best For?

Polarized sunglasses originally became popular amongst fishermen. Because they eliminate the light that reflects against the water, fishermen wearing them were able to clearly see through the water surface, making it much easier for them to find fish. It also took much less of a toll on their eyes to spend so much time staring at the lake or ocean.

Polarized sunglasses are also excellent for boaters, water skiers, surfers, and other similar sports that happen in proximity to water. Additionally, wearing polarized sunglasses during any outdoor sport where momentary blinding could cause an issue would also be a good idea. This can include cycling, jogging, golfing, and even low contact team sports like beach volleyball.

Which Sports Are Polarized Sunglasses Bad For?

In some sports, seeing a bit of glare can help you know if there is a dangerous surface coming up – especially, icy or wet surfaces. This means that for skiing, snowboarding, or cycling and motorcycling in wet weather, it’d be best to wear regular sunglasses that will reduce the intensity of light, but will still allow you to know when there is a wet or icy patch coming up.

How Can I Tell If My Lenses Are Polarized?

Telling if your lenses are polarized is fairly easy. This is how you can test whether your sunglasses are polarized or not:

• Remove your glasses, and hold them up in front of your face.

• Look at some sort of reflective surface through the glasses, but stand off to the side, so you won’t be looking at your own reflection.

• Rotate the glasses so they still face you (and you can still look through the lenses). If, as you move the glasses around, the reflection changes its intensity, it means you have real polarized sunglasses! If, on the other hand, the reflected image looks the same, it means your have regular sunglasses.

What Kind of Polarized Lenses Are There?

There are two main types of polarized sunglasses. The main difference between the two is their thickness.

0.57 mm polarized sunglasses are the thinner option, while 1.1 mm polarized sunglasses are thicker and more durable. While both types of sunglasses are equally able to protect from glare and increase overall clarity at the same level, the thicker polarized sunglasses are more suited to extreme sports, when a lot of damage could be done to the glasses.

For more casual sports and everyday wear, the 0.75 mm sunglasses will probably be more than enough.

Are There Regular Polarized Glasses, Without a Tint?

Unfortunately, there don’t exist polarized sunglasses without a tint. Polarized lenses will always reduce light intensity by around half. However, if you desire both polarization and light reduction, you can purchase tinted polarized sunglasses.

Are Polarized Sunglasses Cute?

While once upon a time polarized sunglasses were the domain of burly fishermen, nowadays they are available in a variety of chic designs! For example, all the classic Ray Ban sunglasses are also available with polarized lenses, so you can rock polarized sunglasses without anyone even knowing.

Other stylish brands that offer polarized sunglasses include Prada, Oakley, Maui Jim, Burberry, and many more!

Best Polarized Sunglasses for Women

These are some of the best polarized sunglasses for women. No matter what kind of style you like, or what kind of face shape you might have, you will find the perfect pair on this list.

1. Ray-Ban Original Aviator Polarized Sunglasses

What hasn’t been said about the Ray-Ban aviators? They are a classic in the world of glasses, so it is great to have them available as polarized sunglasses with 100% UV protection to boot. Keep in mind, these timeless lenses are quite large, so if you have a small face they might be overwhelming. They are available Nordstrom, both in gold and in black frames.

Best Polarized Sunglasses for Women: Ray-Ban Polarized Sunglasses

2. Alexander McQueen Acetate Polarized Sunglasses

Trust a house like McQueen to produce such a stylish and unique pair of polarized sunglasses. These 100% UV proof polarized sunglasses offer maximum protection, while flattering your face shape (especially if you have a wider jaw), and helping you stand out of the crowd. Pick them up at Net-A-Porter!

Best Polarized Sunglasses for Women: Alexander McQueen Polarized Sunglasses

3. Prada 56mm Polarized Sunglasses

We can’t have a list of the best polarized sunglasses for women, without mentioning a fascinating Prada creation. These sunglasses have a copper metal frame that develops a thicker, black stripe along the top that is slightly tilted upwards. They would be perfect for anyone with a longer face shape, especial an oval face shape. You can find them at Nordstrom.

Best Polarized Sunglasses for Women: Prada Polarized Sunglasses

4. Tom Ford Aaron 53mm Sunglasses

These polarized sunglasses stand out for their totally unique shape. Because of the way the bridge sits along the top of the frame, with a bit of negative space just above the nose, these glasses really hold our attention.

The slight thickness of the frame along the lower, outer edge lends these polarized sunglasses a puppy dog eye effect that would suit anyone with a narrower jaw. They are available in 3 different colors (including a yellow that is reminiscent of the ‘60s) at Nordstrom.

Best Polarized Sunglasses for Women: Tom Ford Polarized Sunglasses

5. Burberry 57mm Polarized Aviator Sunglasses

Burberry’s take on the classic aviator style is a worth contender, as one of the best polarized sunglasses for women. Their overall design is similar to the Ray-Ban’s, but their frame design is pure a Burberry pattern.

The bridge design is a bit straighter, and they are an excellent option if you want the aviator style without the Ray-Ban follower reputation. These aviators are available at Nordstrom.

Best Polarized Sunglasses for Women: Burberry Polarized Sunglasses

6. SALT Elkins Polarized Sunglasses

If you dig the tortoiseshell style, with its retro-modern appeal and hipster coolness, you’ll be happy to know the hippest of the glasses brands has a tortoiseshell take on polarized sunglasses. These sleek frames are a little top heavy, so they are perfect for anyone with an oval face shape.

Like most other glasses on this list, they do offer 100% UV protection. They can be picked up at Neiman Marcus.

Best Polarized Sunglasses for Women: Salt Polarized Sunglasses

7. Le Specs ‘Thunderdome’ 52mm Polarized Sunglasses

The Thunderdome glasses design has just a hint of punk-futurism about it, thanks to the almost hexagonal frames. These polarized sunglasses are unique enough to suit any face shape, but they would certainly pair better with a more mod or color blocked overall fashion sense.

They are available in an edgy dark black plastic frame, or a playful transparent baby blue frame. Despite the bulky appearance, these polarized sunglasses are actually feather light. They can be purchased at Nordstrom.

Best Polarized Sunglasses for Women: Le Specs Polarized Sunglasses

8. Seafolly Malibu Polarized Sunglasses

This is the kind of frame you can really hide behind, perfect for those days when eye makeup was just not going to happen. The thick black frames have the cutest hint of a cat’s eye, but thanks to their bulk they prove that you are no nonsense.

These are definitely “don’t mess with me” polarized sunglasses, and they come with the 100% UV protection trimming. You can pick them up at Revolve.

Best Polarized Sunglasses for Women: Seafolly Polarized Sunglasses

9. Smith Optics Clayton 54mm Polarized Sunglasses

These durable lenses combine some of the best elements of the aviator style: the sleek double bridge, and the rounded bottom. However, the dual color of the frame is especially modern and much less severe, while the slight wideness and top heaviness of these polarized sunglasses make it more suitable for even rounded face shapes. This gorgeous pair of glasses is available at Nordstrom.

Best Polarized Sunglasses for Women: Smith Optics Polarized Sunglasses

10. Dolce & Gabbana 58mm Polarized Sunglasses

This sleek pair from the Italian superstar designers is the only semi-rimless offering on this list of the best polarized sunglasses for women. They come in an earthy brown shade that would work well with a summery wardrobe, and they are also mercifully wider set than many of the other pairs on this list.

They offer full UV protection, like any respectable pair of polarized sunglasses must. They retail at Nordstrom.

Best Polarized Sunglasses for Women: Dolce & Gabbana Polarized Sunglasses

Have you had a chance to try polarized sunglasses? Do you prefer them to regular sunglasses, or do you find the glare-reducing effect confusing? Which of these pairs of polarized sunglasses is your favorite? Comment, and let us know!

Photos courtesy of @alenushka_live

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