Credit to: Why You Need A Pair Of Polarized Sunglasses by: PADDY MADDISON
You’ve seen it written on shades at your local opticians. Maybe even heard it uttered by goggle-tanned French skiers in Alpine lodges. But for the vast majority of us, the word “polarised” is something of an enigma. A mystery word whose presence seems to do nothing more than command drastically higher prices than for your average pair of sunglasses.
But does that mean polarised sunglasses are nothing more than a swizz? A pointless luxury that people with surplus cash can purchase to give them a feeling of superiority?
Well, no. In actual fact, polarised lenses are well worth the money. But not necessarily for everyone. “A lot of people know the word ‘polarised,’” says Craig Smith, European sales manager for eyewear brand Dragon Alliance. “However, understanding what it does to light passing through a sunglass lens will help you decide if this additional, premium feature is for you.”
Polarised lenses filter light in a unique and useful way. However, to understand how they work, you first need to understand glare.
The Glaring Issue
If you’ve ever struggled to read your phone screen or make out a license plate due to sunlight, then you’ve experienced glare. At risk of getting all sciency, this is what happens with light hits a flat or uneven surface and is reflected horizontally. This reflected light can be extremely bright and cause difficulty seeing.
This can cause significant issues for people whose hobbies or work require them to see clearly in places where glare is rife, such as at sea or on snow-covered mountains, or even just driving in the summer. And polarised sunglasses can provide the solution. But how do they do it?
Polarized vs Non-Polarized Sunglasses?
In 1929, Edwin Land invented Polaroid, the world’s first polarising material for commercial use. His company’s Polaroid Day Glasses became the first ever polarised sunglasses, offering customers a way of reducing light without simply darkening the landscape.
“A polarised lens will reduce glare and enhance clarity and contrast in bright conditions,” explains Paul Lake, an eye specialist at royal warrant opticians Roger Pope and Partners. “This works by using a special filter that is built into the lens and blocks intense reflected light along the horizontal meridian.”
This reflected light can come from many sources. “For sunglasses, this would tend to be sunlight reflecting off water, lakes, rivers the ocean, a wet road, an approaching car windscreen or snow, where at altitude the sunlight is at its strongest,” adds Dragon Alliance’s Smith.
This means it’s people who often find themselves in and around these sorts of environments who can really benefit from polarised sunglasses. Non-polarised styles simply won’t do the same, though it’s worth pointing out that polarisation has nothing to do with UV protection.
Who Needs Polarized Sunglasses?
Polarised lenses are designed to increase visibility while minimising glare and fatigue. “This is why they are the first choice for people who live or work, on or around water,” Says Smith. “People like beach lifeguards, sailors and anglers – with anglers getting the added bonus that removing the reflection from the surface of the water enables them to see any potential catches swimming below.”
They’re also popular among skiers, snowboarders and mountaineers who find them useful for making out the terrain on sunny ‘bluebird’ days. However, given that they cut light reflected by the snow, they can make ice difficult to identify. Something to bear in mind if you don’t fancy stacking it on your next black diamond run.
The Best Polarised Sunglasses To Buy In 2018
So you’re all clued in on how polarised sunglasses can revolutionise the way you catch fish and shred powder. But what should you spend your hard-earned cash on?
To help you reach an informed decision we’ve handpicked the best brands for polarised shades along with some info on why they;re the best at what they do.
If Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell had been a keen fly fisher, he wouldn’t have dreamed of heading to the local pond in anything but a pair of polarised Ray-Ban Aviators. The legendary American brand has produced, and continues to produce, some of the most iconic frames of all time. The best part is that timeless favourites such as the Wayfarer, the Clubmaster and the Aviator are all available with this added technical feature.