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How Do Polarized Aviator Sunglasses Work?

by John M. White |

To understand the pros and cons of polarized aviator sunglasses we first must understand how polarizing lenses work.

How Is A Polarizing Lens Constructed?

Polarized Lens Construction In the illustration above the first 3 layers on the top and the last 3 layers on the bottom are for additional lens features. In the middle we see a Techlite Glass or Carbonic material with the Smith Polarizing Film sandwiched between the two layers. In other words, the polarizing material itself (which is a very thin "Saran Wrap" like tinted plastic) is sandwiched in between the rigid front and back glass lenses. So all of the color and filtration qualities of the lens is in the thin plastic material, the glass or plastic outer lenses are clear. This is what makes good polarizing lenses so expensive; it is like buying 3 lenses.

What Are The Main Advantages Of Polarized Lenses?

Polarized sunglass lenses will get rid of some of the reflected glare that is only reduced by non-polarized lenses. The important words to think about are "get rid of" and "reduced". The formal definition of a polarizing lens is that it will eliminate 100% of the reflected glare coming off of a flat horizontal surface at an angle of 52°. However, it is important to note that the polarizing action diminishes as the angle of the reflected glare decreases or increases from 52°. Let's imagine that you are standing next to a body of water and looking down at it. If you were looking down at an angle of 52° you would be able to see underwater without any glare. However, as you move your head up or down, changing the angle which you were looking down at up or down from 52°, you would being to see more and more glare. The greater or smaller the angle the more reflected glare you will see until the polarization no longer works.

What Are The Advantages of Polarized Lenses?

Here are some of the advantages of polarized aviator sunglass lenses:

    What Are The Disadvantages of Polarized Lenses?

    Here are a number of the disadvantages of polarized sunglass lenses:

      Glass Polarized Lenses versus Plastic Polarized Lenses

      Earlier we discussed how polarized lenses are constructed, and showed that the polarizing effect is caused by inserting a polarizing film between two pieces of clear glass or clear plastic. The completed lens then is tinted by soaking the lens in a coloring solution, then applying any additional coatings like anti-reflective, mirrored or hydrophobic water repellent. It is important to note that glass polarized lenses cannot be tempered and therefore are not as hard as regular glass lenses, so they are easy to break.

      What Makes A Good Sunglass Lens?

      The most important function of a good sunglass lens is to reduce glare to a comfortable level while stopping ultraviolet light from reaching the wearer's eyes. Another goal for a good sunglass lens is to prevent excessive heat from reaching your eyes. Heat is generated by IR (Infrared Radiation) and is absorbed by glass and plastic lenses. However, glass lenses will keep your eyes cooler than plastic lenses adding to day-long eye comfort. Polarizing lenses will eliminate some reflected glare while reducing direct glare, but will not eliminate as much IR (Infrared) light adding to eye discomfort when outside all day long. Polarizing lenses will allow you to see underwater if the water is clear, but they will not eliminate the IR rays that add to day long discomfort by allowing excessive heat to reach your eyes. Non-polarized aviator sunglasses with solid color glass lenses will block the IR light and allow you to see LCD instruments clearly while providing the day long comfort that cannot be accomplished with polarized or plastic lenses.

      What has your experience been with polarized sunglasses?

      Keep your eyes cool and protected today my friend!

      About John White a/k/a JetAviator7 p.s. Please share "How Do Polarized Aviator Sunglasses Work?" with your friends. Thanks!

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