Do Polarized Lenses offer UV Protection?
When it comes to picking out your sunglasses, don’t let safety take a backseat to style. Sunglasses are meant, first and foremost, to shield our eyes from the sun’s powerful and harmful rays. The most important quality of sunglasses is how much UV protection they offer. You should only purchase sunglasses that offer 100 percent UV protection (sometimes labeled as “UV 400”).
However, it is easy to confuse sun protection with other features, such as polarization. Read on as Dr. Gregory Johnson clears up the confusion.
Polarization and UV Protection Are Not One and the Same
Polarized lenses are designed to minimize the glare that can reflect off of bright surfaces (like the surface of water) and reduce visibility. Normally light bounces at varying angles off an object’s uneven surface and scatters in all directions; however, when reflected from a smooth or flat surface, such as the road or calm water, it travels in a uniform direction, directly into the eyes. This is known as glare.
Polarized lenses have a special filter that blocks intense reflected light for better visibility. Images seen through polarized lenses may appear a bit darker than normal, but objects should look clear and crisp. These lenses are particularly useful for sports and activities that take place on the water or snow; they are also great for reducing glare while driving.
Polarized lenses and UV protection do not always go hand in hand. Sunglasses that have polarized lenses may or may not offer UV protection. But never assume that the features are always used in combination. UV protection is a must-have, whereas polarization is more of a personal preference.
Are Darker Lenses Safer than Lighter Lenses?
Another common misconception about sunglass lenses is the darker the lens, the better the sun protection. According to a survey conducted on behalf of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, 53 percent of people mistakenly believe that sunglasses with dark lenses offer better sun protection than light lenses. In truth, lens color and tint have nothing to do with protecting the eyes from UV rays. Sunglasses with dark lenses that do not offer adequate UV protection can actually be quite harmful, because the dark tint causes the pupils to dilate, letting more harmful light into the eyes.
If you’re still not sure how to pick out sunglasses that offer the protection and features you need, Intracoastal Eye can help. We offer a full-service optical department staffed by knowledgeable professionals. Feel free to stop by for a visit and let us help you pick out an exceptional pair of sunglasses.