Polarized vs UV Protection

By Chanté Roets - (UOFS) CAS(SA)

Are you one of those people who think UV protection sunglasses and Polarized Sunglasses are the same? The answer is No, they are not. UV protection protects your eyes from the dangerous rays of the sun while polarized sunglasses eliminate glare.

Polarized sunglasses:

Polarized sunglasses definitely give better quality vision, but do not provide UV protection. Polarized lenses have a unique chemical film coating that helps eliminate or reduce glare. Glare is caused when light from the sun is reflected off of water or a solid surface. When light is reflected off a surface like water, snow, or glass, the light waves “polarize”. This means they tend to orient themselves horizontally, producing harsh glare and causing eye strain. Polarized lenses filter the light that comes in from different angles and allow you to view objects clearly. Without polarized protection, depth perception is reduced and you get a distorted view and distorted color perception occurs. 

Polarization is useful for many outdoor activities including driving, extreme sports, water sports, and fishing. Many people find that polarized lenses reduce eye strain, particularly if they spend extended amounts of time in glare-prone environments.

Ultraviolet eye protection:

There are two types of UV rays that can damage your eyes by the course of time. UV-A rays can damage the macula which is a part of the retina. This can hurt your central vision. UV-B rays are mostly absorbed by the cornea and the lens. These rays can cause more damage to the eyes than UV-A rays. Too much exposure from the sun’s UV rays has been linked to extensive eye damage which includes cataracts, pinguecula, pterygium, macular degeneration, and even sunburns on your cornea.

UV protection in sunglasses does not mean the darker the lens the higher the protection. It means that the coating that blocks the ultraviolet rays is clear. Yet the tint of the glass plays a significant role. While UV protection is absolutely necessary in your sunglasses in order to protect your eyes and the skin around them, polarized lenses are optional.

Technically both the sunglasses play an important role in good, comfortable, quality vison. It is completely your decision to see how you protect your eyes. When you are travelling or driving you are exposed to a lot of sunlight and harmful UV radiations so a pair of good sunglasses is a must-have accessory for your travels!