What Are Polarized Lenses?

What are polarized lenses?

several pairs of Sunglasses on a shelf

Polarized sunglasses are a great way to keep your eyes safe and enhance your vision. In this blog, we’ll take an in depth look at how polarized lenses work, and why they are an essential upgrade to any sunglasses purchase. 

What are polarized lenses?

Polarized lenses are a type of tinted lens made using a special laminate film. This film is made by stretching hydrocarbon molecules until they align in one direction. The laminate is then applied to the lens during the manufacturing process. 

How do polarized lenses work?

When light is reflected off of horizontal surfaces such as water, metal, or icy roads it aligns to create a uniform beam of horizontal light. This intense reflected light creates glare and impairs vision. The laminate film in a polarized lens blocks horizontal reflected light waves that are oriented perpendicular to their vertical alignment. This works much the same way as a set of vertical blinds over a window. Rather than letting 100% of light pass through the lens, only vertical light rays pass through the blinds. This eliminates reflected glare and allows you to see images clearly. 

How are polarized lenses different from other sunglasses?

Non-polarized lenses are tinted using a special dye. This dye makes lenses darker, reducing intensity from bright light. It does not have an effect on reflected glare because the light that does pass through the lens is scattered in all directions. 

Why should I wear polarized lenses?

Glare is both uncomfortable and dangerous. Reflected light can hide images from view, especially when driving. A study published in the journal Medicine found that bright sunlight was present in about one-third of daytime crashes, and was associated with a 16% increased risk of a life-threatening motor vehicle crash. Polarized lenses can enhance clarity and safety on the road. Additionally, polarized lenses are great for water activities such as fishing, because they eliminate glare off the surface of water, allowing you to locate fish and other objects below the surface. 

Are all polarized lenses the same?

No. While all polarized lenses work the same way, there is a wide variation in quality that can affect how well they work. High quality polarized lenses are made by sandwiching the polarized film between two layers of lens material, or by molding it into the material itself. This design minimizes distortion for optimal clarity. Additionally, quality lenses have thicker layers of polarized film which eliminates up to 99.9% of horizontal glare. Poor quality polarized lenses are often made by laminating a thin layer of polarized film to the surface of the lens. These lenses may delaminate, or peel away from the surface. This manufacturing process results in greater distortion, and these lenses often do not block the same level of horizontal light. 

When should I avoid polarized lenses?

Polarized lenses may interfere with other polarized surfaces, such as LCD displays and instrument panels. They may also cause a triangle pattern to be visible in rear car windows. For the most part, this is a minor inconvenience and should not prevent you from wearing polarized lenses. Pilots should not wear polarized lenses because they need to be able to see their control panels at all times. 

Polarized lenses offer many benefits over tinted lenses. If you are interested in new sunglasses, talk to the opticians at Mountain View Optical to find out if these lenses are right for you. Call or text (907) 328-2920 to schedule. 


Redelmeier, Donald A. MD, FRCPC, MS(HSR), FACP; Raza, Sheharyar HBSc, 2017, Life-threatening motor vehicle crashes in bright sunlight, Medicine, Volume 96 – Issue 1 – p e5710.

Written by:

Gina Stafford, COA, LDO, ABOC

Photo by: Omid Armin on Unsplash

Posted in: Uncategorized

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