One of the main issues people encounter before purchasing sunglasses nowadays, is the popular question of: what is the difference between polarized and non-polarized lenses?
There are many different theories as to what a polarized lens offers its wearer; therefore, we would like to help their decision making before placing an order by clarifying the actual facts against the myths.
What are polarized sunglasses?
Light reflected from surfaces such as a flat road or smooth water generally is horizontally polarized. This means that, instead of light being scattered in all directions in more usual ways, reflected light generally travels in a more horizontally oriented direction. This creates an annoying and sometimes dangerous intensity of light that we experience as glare. The polarized lenses are used to block this intense light that is reflected from flat surfaces. The reason for this is that polarized sunglasses are made with vertical polarization, while the light reflected by the sun on flat surfaces is horizontally polarized.
Take a look at the diagram below. Light rays come in both horizontal and vertical meridians. Hold up a polarized lens – it will block the light of one meridian, the lens on the top of the diagram lets in light of the vertical meridian. Turn this same lens 90 degrees and it will let in light of the horizontal meridian. Hold up 2 lenses – one held vertically and the other horizontally and stack them together, this will totally block off all light.
The non polarized lenses have a dark shade and reduce the intensity of light. However, unlike the polarized lenses, they cannot counter the effects of horizontal polarization. These lenses do not take into account the direction in which light is coming.
Though polarized lenses improve visibility and provide better protection, you will encounter some instances when these lenses may not be advisable. In some cases, polarized lenses may reduce the visibility of images produced by liquid crystal displays (LCD) screens such as cell phones, GPS devices found on cars and other flat LCD screens.
However, for most other sports and activities, polarized sunglasses offer great advantages. And today, many polarized lenses are available in combination with other features that can enhance outdoor experiences. Here are examples of some activities when polarized sunglasses will come in very useful:
1. Driving on wet roads
Do you use sunglasses? Should I wear polarized sunglasses?
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