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What are the Different Types of Polarized Lenses?

By Harriette Halepis
Updated May 21, 2024
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Polarized lenses were created in order to reduce any glare caused by a light source. Glasses that have been polarized make working on a computer, playing sports, and spending time in the sun easier on a person's eyes. There are various types of polarized lenses available, and consumers seeking to purchase a pair of polarized glasses should understand the fundamental differences between different types of polarization prior to purchase. Essentially, there are two types of polarized lenses available: 0.75 mm lenses and 1.1 mm lenses.

The difference between the two is the thickness of the film used to create the polarization. The thinner, 0.75 mm lenses are good for most casual sports. The thicker, 1.1mm lenses are more expensive, although the thicker film does not make glasses of this type any better when it comes to glare reduction.

Not only do polarized lenses block harmful sunlight rays, they also help wearers to see clearly when driving or when participating in outdoor sports. While these lenses are ideal in almost every situation, skiers, snowboarders, or motorcycle drivers should not wear polarized sunglasses. Sometimes, the polarization will prevent a person from seeing details clearly, and when shadows are blocked, snow sports and motorcycle driving can be dangerous. Skiers and snowboarders may not be able to determine a small jump from a large hole, for example, and motorcycle drivers may not be able to see the difference between pavement and wet pavement.

Still, for the most part, sunglasses that include polarized lenses are important to eye care. When glasses that are not polarized are worn, ultra violet rays are allowed to penetrate the naked eye. In addition, glare that can be caused from nearly any object will irritate the eye causing blurred vision.

Polarization may affect a wearer's ability to view a liquid crystal display (LCD) screen. When a person finds that his polarized glasses prevent him from viewing an LCD screen, he can simply tilt his head 45° to either side. This adjustment should allow for corrected vision. Another polarized lens, which allows 3D images to be viewed, may cause vertigo since they are filtered differently from regular polarized glasses. Anyone wearing 3D glasses should be careful not to become dizzy.

Many different companies make glasses that are polarized. Some companies manufacture sunglasses that are created for specific sports, and these glasses might be better than most others due to the technology use. To find glasses of this type, shoppers can visit popular manufacturers. As with most other purchases, it is best to try on a pair of sunglasses prior to purchase.

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Discussion Comments
By Jolley71717 — On Jan 26, 2012

Anon is right about lenses not needing to be polarized to block UV light. Polycarbonate, for example, blocks UV light, and you can also get UV coatings on lenses that block UV.

UV can cause harm to your eyes. For example, increased UV light exposure can lead to cataracts earlier than normal. It is important for pilots to carefully consider polarized lenses because many of the instruments are LCD, and they would not be able to see the instruments unless they turn their head to the side. Other than that, I highly recommend polarized lenses. I am an ABO certified optician.

By anon209270 — On Aug 25, 2011

Polarized lenses will indeed block harmful ultraviolet light, but that's not exclusive to polarized lenses. While you can get non-polarized sunglasses in either non-prescription or prescription that do not have UV protection, there are many non-polarized choices in all materials that provide full protection from harmful UV light. This UV protection is also available in clear lenses as well.

By MrsWinslow — On Jun 21, 2011

@SurfNturf - Non-designer ones should be pretty reasonable. You can even get a prescription pair for that price, but I like to get prescription glasses with polarized sunglasses that clip to the frame.

It's actually dangerous to wear sunglasses that are not polarized. The glare reduction causes your pupils to dilate further than they normally would, but the UV rays still get through, meaning that more UV rays are reaching the inside of your eye where they can do damage.

By surfNturf — On Jun 21, 2011

@Sunny27 - I love polarized lenses but they tend to be way more expensive than traditional sunglasses. I was looking at a pair of Oakley polarized lenses that were $250 dollars. They are really great to use if you are doing some type of outdoor sports like snow skiing or jet skiing.

I know that they are expensive but these glasses are really worth it. The store told me that they also had a policy that if the glasses should break or get damaged within the first year, I could return it to the store and get 50% off of an identical pair. So at least this made me feel better.

By Sunny27 — On Jun 21, 2011

I went to a sunglass store the other day to look for a pair of polarized sunglass lenses and I could not believe the clarity that I had with those glasses.

The salesperson did a demonstration and showed me what the difference was between a pair of polarized lenses vs. non polarized lenses. With the polarized lenses you could see all of these images that are blurry with a regular pair of sunglasses. I didn’t realize that there was a such a difference.

She also said that polarized sunglasses protect the retina and help reduce the chance of developing cancer in the eyes. She said that since you will not see a glare with these glasses you will have a lower tendency to squint and will develop less lines around the eyes.

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