Myths and truths about polarized sunglasses and glare

Last Updated on February 9, 2024 by Josh Wilkerson

Glare occurs when sunlight is reflected off a surface, and it can temporarily blind you, along with distorting your depth and color perception. Polarized sunglasses feature a chemical film that can significantly reduce glare. Polarized lenses are designed to eliminate the majority of glare so that objects can be seen more clearly. They can also reduce the damage that UV rays can cause.

Polarized lenses offer several vision benefits compared to standard lenses, and they can improve safety in a wide range of scenarios. Safety glasses are often polarized with a similar process to reduce glare for drivers, outdoor workers, and other occupations that may be affected by glare when working. Polarized lenses can be dangerous in a few cases, like downhill skiing and night driving.

How polarized sunglasses work
The light that reflects off surfaces and causes glare is mostly horizontally polarized. In other words, reflected light acts differently from ordinary light in that it tends to move more horizontally, while normal light tends to scatter in all directions. Polarized sunglasses filter out horizontal light waves, so only vertical waves are transmitted through the lens. This significantly reduces glare and results in more comfortable vision without the intense, often blinding light that glare causes.

Although polarized sunglasses can offer more comfortable vision in several scenarios, wearing them is not always advisable. For example, when downhill skiing, it is recommended never to wear polarized lenses as they can block the glare from dangerous obstacles like icy patches. The glare warns the skier and can help them avoid it. Polarized lenses can also reduce the visibility of LEDs or LCDs found on the dashboards of some vehicles and airplanes or on digital screens that can be found in different places like gas stations and ATMs.

Polarized lenses are beneficial in several scenarios
Polarized sunglasses are not advisable in a few situations, but they are a great way to improve vision and safety in many sports and activities. With most water sports, for example, polarized lenses improve vision and ensure that participants can see what they are doing. Polarized lenses can also be very beneficial when hiking on a sunny day or when snow is on the ground. Outside of the few situations mentioned in this blog, polarized sunglasses are a very effective way to improve vision.

Several different types of polarized lenses are available for different purposes. .75mm polarized lenses are made from thin film sheets and are often found on glasses where impact resistance isn’t a significant concern. 1.1mm lenses offer better impact resistance and may be used for some contact sports. Even thicker lenses are available, depending on the needs of the wearer.

For more information about polarized sunglasses or questions about customizing your pair, contact Classic Specs at 800-896-2561 or visit