Polarized Sunglasses? What are they and how do they work?

Posted by Josh Peacey on

Have you ever wondered what polarized sunglasses are and how they work? Or perhaps you’re like most people and haven't given it a second thought? See what it all means below:

What is Polarization?

The light from the sun tends to travel in all directions ie. in vertical and horizontal waves, therefore sunlight is non-polarized.

Depending on the angle, when light reflects off a flat surface it becomes polarized which means more horizontal light waves are meeting your eye than vertical light waves.

What this means practically is you will now experience glare. Glare can be either be a gentle glint off the waters edge or something really annoying!

Polarized Sunglasses - Glare

How do polarized sunglasses work?

Polarized sunglasses work a bit like a venetian blind. Laminated filters contain vertical stripes which reduce this glare by filtering out some of the horizontal light waves, leaving you a more comfortable light to look at. Non-polarized sunglasses will still help as they reduce the total amount of light hitting your eyes but they don’t selectively filter it.

Who are they for?

Polarized sunglasses are for anyone but particularly for boaties on the water and people in the snow, as there is a lot of reflection in these environments.

Another added benefit for boaties is most Vilo wooden sunglasses float!

Who are they not so good for?

The exception to using them in the snow is for some downhill skiers. If you need to quickly identify icy patches in the snow, polarised sunglasses aren’t so good as you won’t be able to see the glint off the ice.

They’re also not so good for pilots and others that need to view LCD and LED screens. Just by the way these devices emit light, polarized sunglasses can block out the screen depending on the angle you’re viewing them from.

How do I tell if my sunglasses are polarized?

The easiest way to check them at home is to grab your smartphone, put on your sunglasses and slowly rotate the screen. If they’re polarized you should see the screen dimming as you turn them, usually getting darkest at about 45 degrees.

Check out the video below:

My sunglasses aren’t polarized. Should I worry that I’m not being protected from the sun?

No. Polarization and sun protection are two different things. Polarization just filters out horizontal light waves to reduce glare. UV sun protection is the filter which protects your eyes from the harmful UVA and UVB rays.


If you're keen to find out more, pop over to our WebsiteInstagram or Facebook page for the latest. Happy travels!



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