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Are Polarized Sunglasses Better for Your Eyes?

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A young girl walking at the beach is wearing polarized sunglasses.

There are so many choices when it comes to sunglasses! Although brands, shapes, and color choices are all fun to consider, there’s more to your decision than looking stylish. 

When it comes to making the decision to have polarized sunglasses or not, which route should you go? Polarized sunglasses are better for your eyes because they protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful glare and UV rays, and can make things easier for you to see.

While the sun’s light has many benefits for the body, when your eyes are exposed to the sun’s light for long periods of time without the proper protection, there can be risks to your ocular health—UV rays can cause damage or blindness

What Is UV Light?

UV light, or ultraviolet light, is the light that is emitted from the sun. It is a form of non-ionizing radiation emitted from the sun’s rays. UV light refers to a spectrum of light that is not visible to the human eye. UV-B light is produced by the sun, and about 95% of it is absorbed into the ozone before it reaches us. 

UV light does not only come from the sun—it can also be produced artificially. There are many sources that can produce the same UV radiation as the sun. Some of these include:

  • Different types of light, such as fluorescent, halogen, and incandescent 
  • Tanning beds
  • Mercury vapor lighting

There are many benefits to sunlight on the body. Some of these benefits include:

  • Elevated mood by increasing serotonin levels
  • Increase in vitamin D levels with as little 5 minutes exposure be per day
  • Treatment for several skin conditions such as eczema, acne and psoriasis

The Benefits of Polarized Sunglasses

Many often think that the sun can only damage their skin but it’s been shown that prolonged, unprotected exposure to the sun can also pose a risk to your eye health. UV damage has been linked to eye issues such as cataracts, cancer, and macular degeneration. Having proper eye protection can help to reduce damage to your eye health in certain situations. 

Polarized sunglasses can make it easier for you to see and reduce the glare caused by the reflection of light. Polarization does not block the UV light but rather filters it so that you are still able to see comfortably. Some of the benefits of having polarized sunglasses include:

  • Seeing colors more true to form
  • Sharpening of the contrast between light and dark 
  • Increasing your visual comfort level 
  • Helping to prevent fatigue and eye strain
A woman wearing a hut and polarized sunglasses outdoors. UVA and UVB rays reflected by lenses

How Polarized Sunglasses Can Protect Your Eyes

The reflected glare from the sun’s light against smooth surfaces such as pavement, water, chromed surfaces, snow, or car windows can cause injury to your eyes. Corneal sunburn can happen from extended exposure to the glare of the sun’s light from these surfaces. Polarized sunglasses help with reducing the glare caused by the sun’s light reflecting off surfaces, thereby reducing the risk of eye injury.

Polarized sunglasses cut glares down and help to reduce the UV light absorption in your eyes. While many polarized sunglasses are now made with UV-blocking substances, it is important to speak to your optometrist to make sure that you have the protection that you need. Your optometrist will help ensure that you have the proper protection for your eye health needs. Polarized sunglasses can be useful during a variety of activities, including:

  • Playing sports outdoors for extended lengths of time 
  • Driving
  • Recreational activities outdoors 

One of the disadvantages of using polarized sunglasses while being outdoors is that it can make it more difficult to see screens such as cellphones and various handheld devices. It is good to be aware of this because the sun can also reflect off of these surfaces to cause glare leading to eye injury and damage. 

When Should I Wear Polarized Sunglasses?

The risks associated with UV light exposure can happen all year round, which is why it is so important to work to wear sunglasses during every season. It’s important to remember that risks from UV light do not just happen outdoors but can happen from artificial indoor lights as well. If you’re going to be in a situation where you know that you will be exposed for any length of time, it is best to have UV protection with you. 

Help Keep Your Eyes Protected

San Clemente Optometry is here to help with your eye care and eye health needs. Whether you need to come in for your regular eye exam or would like to speak to one of our doctors for some advice on your eye health, we are here to help. Book an appointment today so that we can guide you on your eye care journey.

Written by Total Vision

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