Sunglasses come in a bewildering assortment of shapes, shades, and prices. What’s not apparent to many are the benefits of polarized sunglasses. Polarized lenses for sunglasses have many benefits over and above the fashion statement that many overpriced brands evoke.

What is the difference between a polarized lens and an ordinary sunglass lens? Let Victoria Optometrist Dr. Anita Narang tell you. A polarized lens filters the horizontal light that reflects off a surface. Without a polarized lens, the resulting reflection (known as glare) hits the eyes directly, sometimes blinding a person but always making it more difficult for the eyes to see objects and detail.

Polarized lenses on sunglasses are healthy on the eyes because they practically eliminate glare that is the result of sunlight reflecting off water, snow, or a road. This elimination of glare cause less eyestrain, which can result in irritation, redness, fatigue, and even headaches. If you are engaged in an outdoor activity, this reduction in eyestrain has direct safety benefits. The elimination of glare improves vision to the point that you see colors better, and in better detail.

If you already have vision issues, polarized lenses will dramatically improve your vision over roadways and water, surfaces which are notorious for producing glare. Glare induces squinting, which is bad when you’re, say, driving, as you may miss things happening around you. Needless to say, a missed object (or worse, a person) can result in the driver hitting that object or person. Not a pleasant thought.

Sports-minded people, golfers, and people who are often out on the water love polarized sunglasses because of the improved clarity of vision a polarized lens provides. Try wearing a pair of polarized sunglasses near a swimming pool and you’ll see what we mean. By blocking the reflection coming off the water, you can actually see what’s beneath the surface.

There are instances when polarized lenses are not recommended. These include activities like night driving, piloting an airplane, viewing LCD screens, or downhill skiing. For other activities though, the benefits of polarized sunglasses are evident.

Polarized sunglasses do cost more that sunglasses with ordinary lenses. But for its benefits of reduced glare, less eyestrain, better safety when driving, and clarity of vision, then the extra cost is worth paying for.

Thanks to Island Eyecare Optometrists for their help in writing this article.