How Do Polarized Sunglasses Lenses Work?

How Polarized Sunglasses Lenses Work

How Polarized Sunglasses Lenses Work

One question we get asked often is how polarized sunglasses lenses work.

Before we can explain how polarized sunglasses lenses work you first have to understand that light travels in waves through the air. These waves vibrate in all directions and are scattered throughout the atmosphere.

These vibrating light waves are what we see through our eyes, including through our sunglasses.

How Polarization Works

However, reflected light like that off of water, road surfaces or windows primarily vibrates in the horizontal plane, and by adding a filter layer to the sunglasses lens (called polarized sunglasses lenses) these horizontal vibrating light waves can be blocked. Because reflected light like glare can cause problems for seeing hazards sunglasses manufacturers offer polarized sunglasses lenses to minimize or eliminate this reflected light.

Polarized sunglasses lenses are most useful for people who are fishing, boating, in the desert or are skiing on snow covered hills in bright sunlight.

A Polarization Demonstration Video

Polarized Sunglasses Lenses Are Not Always Best

Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) Polarization

Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) Polarization

As you can see in the image to the right LCD (liquid crystal displays) use polarization filters to present the images to the viewer. Because some of the vibrating light waves from the LCDs is horizontal seeing the images or data can be difficult or impossible when wearing sunglasses with polarized sunglasses lenses.

This creates a problem for drivers whose cars might have an LCD display, for pilots (many aircraft today have LCD screens in them) or for anyone who needs to use a device with an LCD screen (like a cell phone or computer tablet).

Therefore anyone who needs to see data presented by an LCD screen should NOT use sunglasses with polarized sunglasses lenses in them.

UV Rays Are Still Dangerous

Polarized sunglasses lenses do not solve the problem of ultraviolet radiation as uv rays will still enter your eye unless absorbed/blocked by the tint layers applied to your sunglasses lenses.

In every instance any sunglasses you purchase should block 98-100% of harmful ultraviolet radiation and should allow 12-18% transmittance of the light through the sunglasses lens.

Randolph Aviator Sunglasses

Randolph Aviator sunglasses – both non-polarized and with polarized sunglasses lenses – work very well while providing a great look as well. Manufactured in the USA by skilled craftsmen, Randolph Aviator sunglasses deliver beauty, comfort and performance at a great price.

You can find a great selection on our Randolph Aviator Sunglasses page.

Have a prosperous day!

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