If you’re in the market for a pair of polarized sunglasses then at some point you’ll probably find yourself looking at the different prices and asking: are all polarized sunglasses the same?
With prices starting from as low as $25 and topping out at over $250 that is an excellent question to ask! After all, if you can spend a couple dozen bucks on some shades that do the job, why would you spend over 10 times that amount?!
The short answer is that no, not all polarized sunglasses are the same.
Cheap polarized sunglasses are produced by laminating a polarized film between thin sheets of acrylic or acetate then using heat to shape the lens. The result are glasses that can be distorted (think “hot spots” around the lens). They also scratch easily. But they can still work for people (just check out all these glasses on Amazon with literally thousands of great reviews >>)
Mid range polarized sunglasses are generally “polycarbonate injection moulded”. This method is very popular with lots of sports brands because the glasses tend to be very impact resistant and scratch resistant. They don’t offer the very best in clarity, but hey! What good is superb clarity if they shatter/scratch easily. (You can find a really good range of polarized sunglasses for sports and outdoors here at OpticsPlanet >>)
High end polarized sunglasses tend to be either CR39 or Glass or Cast NTX. CR39 has exceptional clarity but isn’t impact-resistant. For clarity and scratch resistance then glass is best. And for sport, NTX has pretty excellent clarity as well as being impact resistant.
Still asking yourself are all polarized sunglasses the same? Read on for much more detail!!
What Does Polarized Mean?
In physics, polarization refers to restricting wave vibrations. If we are discussing sunglasses, the term “polarized” refers to limiting the vibrations of light waves. It’s how these accessories can reduce glare and help see better on bright sunny days.
Manufacturers use chemicals on polarized sunglasses. These chemicals are either part of the glass or added as a coating. The result is the same – the chemical acts as a filter that only lets through specific light waves. It’s how these accessories reduce glare reduction and protect our eyes.
Polarized sunglasses are essential when the sun is bright. Sunlight reflects surfaces like water and snow, making it hard to see in those conditions. Thanks to the polarized lenses, the glare from horizontal surfaces, such as water or road, is reduced. The sunglasses pass vertical light but block horizontal, and that’s how they enable better vision.
How Polarized Lenses Are Made
The simple explanation is that the manufacturer applies a special chemical to the lens. Then, they add the chemical to the film and design a microscopic filter. You can compare this to the curtains placed on windows to block sunlight.
The process of making polarized sunglasses begins with choosing an acetate or acrylic-based compound as the chemical to use. Manufacturers would then laminate film between these materials. The next step includes heating the film to get the desired lens shape. Now, the problem with this method is that heat might leave traces. These spots affect the lens performance and lead to distortion. The glass is also prone to scratching, requiring better care.
Manufacturers came up with a better alternative. High-quality models come with polycarbonate injections. You’ll often see these in sports-graded polarized sunglasses. These injections make the material withstand impact well and improve scratch resistance. The process includes putting the film in a mold and inserting polycarbonate. Unfortunately, some distortion is possible in these situations, too. It’s why some creators also use cast NTX to ensure better clarity.
The third option includes CR39. It includes placing glue between two lenses’ wafers. It results in a clear lens, that is great at resisting impacts. .
Why Do Polarized Glasses Matter?
Buying polarized sunglasses isn’t an easy decision. We already covered the main benefits, but it couldn’t hurt to dive into details. Here’s why polarized glasses are a wise investment!
You put on sunglasses to look amazing, but you are also aware they are necessary on sunny days. The high brightness level can lead to eyestrain and visibility problems, especially if you are sensitive to light. If there’s glare from surrounding surfaces, you’ll hardly be able to see anything.
And that’s where polarized sunglasses come into play. The hidden layer reduces light transmission at certain angles. That secures glare reduction and improves visibility. It removes the eyestrain you might feel when looking in a high-brightness direction. The actual layer that secures polarization isn’t visible. That means you’ll still look cool wearing those sunglasses.
If you use regular sunglasses, they’ll provide the “darkening” effect. They’ll reduce light sensitivity but might compromise clarity. You won’t be able to see details when not wearing sunglasses.
The advantage of polarized sunglasses is that they don’t compromise clarity. Instead, they maintain a high perception level while delivering the “darkening” effect. It ensures you reach maximum vision clarity during hot sunny days. That clarity is crucial for outdoor activities. Whether you are hiking or surfing, you’ll appreciate the clear vision.
Protecting from UV Rays
Polarized sunglasses come with natural UV ray protection. They have a layer that blocks ultraviolet radiation. The materials used in polarized lenses come with 100% UV light blockage. This protection is vital when you are outdoors. It’s not only your skin that’s sensitive to UV radiation. Ultraviolet rays can damage your eyes in the long run. Some reports suggest that people living in warm climates experience 80% of the UV light their bodies can handle by the age of 20.
UV Light can cause corneal sunburns but also macular degeneration and cataracts. Top-quality sunglasses should offer ultraviolet protection at the highest possible level. Some manufacturers even add blue-light protection, which is important when looking at the screens.
How to Tell If Your Sunglasses Are Polarized
Multiple methods can tell you if you are using polarized sunglasses. However, it’s hard to tell just from checking out the product. Regular and polarized lenses look similar, so how to avoid potential scams? Check the methods below to confirm the sunglasses come with the polarized features:
- Use a reflective surface. Glass table or a water surface would do. The idea is to find a bright light source. Put the glasses at tilt your head to about a 60-degree angle. Does the light become more intense? If yes, you have polarized sunglasses. But if there’s no change, it’s a fake model.
- Check with another pair of polarized glasses. Do you have two pairs of polarized lenses? You can lift them both and place them opposite of one another. If the lenses are polarized, it won’t be a problem to see through both pairs. Now, grab one pair and move them to a 90-degree angle. Did the lenses black out? If yes, it’s another confirmation that they come with a polarized film.
- Use an LCD screen. It’s also possible to check polarized sunglasses with a smartphone, computer, or another LCD screen. Put on the sunglasses and look at the screen. Then, tilt your head to see if the display goes black. If yes, then you confirmed the lenses have a polarized film.
- Test with a sticker. Some manufacturers understand the importance of confirming they aren’t selling a fake. That’s why they include a test sticker, which will get darker when you put on the polarized lenses.
- Use test cards. You can find specialized test cards that don’t cost over a few bucks. The card will seem blank with regular glasses or naked eye but will display an image if you put on polarized lenses.
Polarized Sunglasses VS Regular Sunglasses
The main difference is that standard sunglasses have a normal tint that darkens the image. Polarized lenses have a polarized film that maintains maximum clarity and delivers UV protection. It’s ideal to have these when you are on the water. Whether you are canoeing, sailing, or fishing, you’ll appreciate reduced sunlight glare from the water surface. It’ll ensure you can spend hours doing your favorite activity without experiencing eyestrain. And you might see better under the water.
Polarized sunglasses are also great for mountains and other outdoor activities. If you are hiking, you can enjoy scenic views without worrying about the sunlight glare. The contrast offered by polarized lenses will enable better views of vibrant scenery.
While polarized sunglasses help reduce the glare from the snow, always use them only while you are on foot. If you are skiing, polarized lenses might prevent you from seeing icy zones. That’s where you could benefit from regular sunglasses without a tint. Using regular sunglasses without tint is also wise when looking at screens. Polarized lenses might make an LCD display dark and difficult to use.
High-Quality Polarized Lenses
The first thing to check is the materials the manufacturer used for polarized sunglasses. Glass, CR39, Trivex, and polycarbonate are common choices for high-quality lenses. Another method to confirm lens quality is to press the outer surface’s central section with a fingertip. If it deflects when you apply pressure, it’s a sign of bad quality. You can also use a fingernail to tap the lens. The sound produced should remind you of knocking at a glass surface.
Low-Quality Polarized Lenses
Low-quality lenses aren’t necessarily bad to wear. However, they are less durable and effective than high-quality sunglasses. Most manufacturers use soft TAC (tri-acetate cellulose) compounds that aren’t resistant to scratches. You need to take great care to avoid damage. Some statistics also show that low-quality polarized lenses are only 30-50% effective in reducing glare.
If you tap the lens with a nail and hear a thud, that’s a sign the manufacturer used TAC. Low-quality lenses would also deflect when you apply pressure.
Polarized sunglasses are a must-have accessory for anyone who enjoys spending time outdoors on bright sunny days. Specialized lenses will reduce glare and secure better visibility. They also come with maximum UV protection to keep your eyes safe from ultraviolet radiation. Polarized glasses are suitable for fishing, surfing, hiking, and other outdoor activities. You can pick from many shapes, colors, and sizes, so don’t hesitate to pick your favorite and look great during the summer!
Are all polarized sunglasses the same?
No, all polarized sunglasses are not the same. There are different methods for manufacturing polarized sunglasses using various different materials. They all have different trade offs around price, clarity, impact resistance and scratch resistance.