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Unraveling Polarized and UV Coated Sunglasses – What Are They, Exactly?

We prefer to see the outdoors through a nice pair of sunglasses. Beyond looking cool, a high-quality pair has some incredible health benefits for our eyes. Terms get bandied about in every industry, but the sunglass market is littered with “UV Coated” “100% Protection” “Polarized Lenses” and the like. But what does polarized sunglasses and UV coated mean? Don’t they do the same thing? You might be surprised to know that each serves a very specific purpose.

Polarized Lenses

Without breaking out our science textbooks, when sunlight reflects off something shiny like water or snow, the light gets “polarized” or scattered. Simply put, this polarization reorients the rays, producing a harsh glare. Polarized lenses reduce the brightness of the glare by only allowing light rays that are oriented in a particular direction through the lens to your eyes. All of this is done without making everything darker and actually makes everything appear crisper. These lenses work particularly well for driving and on the water.


UV Coated Lenses

UV protection is about blocking 100% of ultraviolet light from entering our eyes. UV is a particular wavelength of radiation, higher than the visible spectrum of light. These are the same ultraviolet rays that we’re mindful of when we head to the beach or spend extended time in the sun. There are several types of UV rays, some more harmful than others. UV-C gets absorbed by the earth’s ozone layer and poses no threat to our eyes or skin. UV-A and UV-B, on the other hand, can have a lasting impact on our vision. UV coated lenses block these harmful rays from entering our eye. Not only do we recommend buying sunglasses with 100% UV protection, but virtually every optometrist on earth would also agree.

Common Questions

Are polarized lenses and UV protected lenses the same?

In a word, no. Polarized lenses only block polarized rays from entering our eyes. UV protected lenses only block UV rays. Polarized lenses aim to reduce glare and make everything appear crisper. UV coated lenses block harmful ultraviolet rays. Luckily, most high-quality polarized lenses almost always have 100% UV protection. Not sure if your new pair of glasses has both? Check that little sticker in the corner of the lens.

Do the Color of the Lenses Matter?

They do if you are trying to color match your lenses to whatever you’re wearing, but practically speaking, the color of the lens means absolutely nothing regarding UV protection. UV protection is embedded in the lens during manufacturing. The tint of the frame just changes how the world around you looks in bright sunlight. That’s why we love polarized, and UV coated lenses; it gives us the protection we want without making everything appear darker.

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