Vision Q&A: What is the difference between regular and polarized sunglasses?

Q: What is the difference between regular and polarized sunglasses?

A: While normal sunglasses offer basic protection against UV rays, they are often not enough for people who spend a lot of time outdoors. Regular sunglasses protect your eyes against direct vertical and horizontal light rays, but not indirect horizontal light rays that bounce off of surfaces such as water, snow, and pavement. These light rays create an annoying glare that can prevent you from seeing clearly. Polarized lenses have a built-in filter that allows in only vertical light and almost completely eliminates glare.

There are many benefits of wearing polarized lenses. Polarized sunglasses increase contrast to enhance vision clarity, improve visual comfort, reduce eye strain, and eliminate annoying glare. While they are commonly more expensive than an average pair of sunglasses, the benefits outweigh the cost for someone who relies on polarization for clear vision.

Anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors or driving will benefit from polarized lenses. Polarized lenses are very popular among boaters, runners, skiers, and bikers in order to retain clear vision during outdoor activities. Glare can be especially harsh when reflected off of water or snow.

If you think that you might benefit from increased protection from UV rays and glare, consult your optometrist to see if polarized sunglasses could be the right option for you.