Polarized Lenses Explained

what are polarized lenses

Sunglasses aren’t just a summer staple. In fact, optometrists recommend wearing sunglasses year round for optimal eye health. Tom Cruise and Audrey Hepburn were on to something. Not all lenses are created equal, however. Polarized lenses offer a host of advantages that should be considered when purchasing eyewear. 

What are Polarized Lenses?

When sunlight is reflected off of water, snow, windshields, passing cars, and other bright surfaces, it causes visual noise or that pesky glare. Light travels in all directions and standard sunglasses filter light equally, yet polarized lenses filter the light selectively and absorb light waves from various angles, while also protecting against harmful UV rays.

The reflections from horizontal surfaces are blocked by the lens molecules and light enters the eye vertically. You only see the real image because the interfering glare is diminished. For example, you’re enjoying a sunny afternoon on a fishing excursion. When you look down at the water, you see the sky, trees, and other surroundings reflected off of the surface, making it extremely difficult to actually see into the water. If you’re wearing polarized lenses, these reflections are blocked. Instead of staring at your own face mirrored in the water, you can view what’s under the water.

polarized light explained

The sun light reflected by any surface, for example while driving, walking on the beach, or skiing on the mountains, is the polarized light.


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Polarized lenses block the blinding glare that bounces off horizontal surfaces, for reduced eye strain and great comfort.


Types of Polarized Lenses:

  • .75 mm Polarized Lenses

Made from extremely thin film, .75 mm lenses are perfect for the casual wearer, as they’re not as resistant to breakage.

  • 1.1 mm Polarized Lenses

These lenses are made with thicker sheets of film. While they have the same properties as their thinner counterparts and aren’t any stronger when it comes to nixing glare, they have more resistance to impact. If you’ll be wearing your shades while playing sports or just have a propensity for dropping things, these are a better bet.

  • Glass

Polarized glass lenses offer the highest standard of polarization, photochromic qualities, and scratch resistance. The price tends to be a little higher for glass lenses as opposed to plastic.

  • Polycarbonate (plastic)

Though plastic lenses may scratch more easily and might not have the same optical quality as glass lenses, they are lighter and can be more comfortable. They’re also extremely durable and less prone to breakage. They typically cost less than glass lenses.

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Benefits of Polarized Lenses:

  • Safety
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Polarized lenses reduce glare so you don’t have to worry about being blinded on the road when that silver sports car goes zipping by. You will be able to see clearer images, while reducing eyestrain and fatigue. This makes activities, such as driving, much safer. Glare can be extremely uncomfortable for those who already have vision problems or are prone to migraines. Polarized lenses eliminate this issue. No more squinting! Polarized lenses with full UV ray protection, keep your eyes safe from the damaging effects of the sun’s ultraviolet light. UV rays can harm the eyes’ lenses and corneas, boost the odds of suffering from cataracts down the road, can cause photokeratitis, a corneal sunburn often referred to as snow blindness, and ravage the thin, fragile skin of the eye area. Polarized lenses preserve the health of your eyes.

  • Improved Vision

With the glare filtered out, you see whatever is actually there and aren’t distracted by reflections. Polarized lenses are like the superheroes of sunglasses. Colors are purer, details are precise, contrast is sharper, and your surroundings are crisper and clearer when wearing polarized sunglasses, hence the enduring popularity of Ray Ban shades.

  • Comfort

Anyone who’s squinted their way through a drive trying to make out objects that were distorted by a glare knows that the eyes get tired, irritated, red, and strained. Plus, this can lead to a headache. Polarized lenses make it possible to frolic in the sun and around any surface without having to compromise your visual comfort.  

Are Polarized Lenses for Me?

Those who engage in outdoor sports, drive frequently, or just want to reduce glare, will find polarized lenses better suited to their sun protection needs. There are a few cases when you should not wear polarized lenses. Polarized sunglasses make it difficult to see images on an LCD screen so those who rely on an LCD screen, such as operators of certain heavy equipment and pilots, shouldn’t wear them in these instances. In addition, polarized sunglasses are not recommended for night driving or for downhill skiing if you have difficulty distinguishing between regular snow and icy patches when reflections are absorbed. Polarized lenses come in prescription and non-prescription form. Even if you wear bifocals, you will be able to take advantage of these lenses. Your eyewear professional can point you in the right direction.  

Find Polarized Lenses in Vancouver

Whether you’re interested in polarized lenses or feel more comfortable with regular sunglasses, the Spectacle Shoppe in Vancouver offers expert care and advice. Glasses, sunglasses, contact lenses, and eyewear accessories are our specialties. Stop by the Spectacle Shoppe today or visit spectacleshop.ca for worry-free online shopping.

Morgan Nahanee
Morgan Nahanee


Morgan is The Spectacle Shoppe’s Lead Technician and Customer Relations Specialist as well as a Principle of Spectacle Shoppe. She is a licensed contact lens fitter and dispensing optician and has been working for The Spectacle Shoppe since 2006. She graduated from Douglas College’s two year Dispensing Optician and Contact Lens Fitting Program in 2008. From contact lens fitting to eyeglass repairs and adjustments Morgan is eager to help you with any optical needs. Connect with Morgan Nahanee on Google+