One of the most important decisions you’ll make when purchasing a new pair of sunglasses is whether or not you choose polarized or non-polarized lenses.
Not sure what polarized even means?
Essentially, natural light travels in all directions. It is classified as unpolarized. When those light beams come into contact with a reflective surface, such as sunlight hitting water, snow, a wet road or a car, it is reflected back and diverted in a particular direction.
In other words, it's polarized.
You may notice this light reflecting back onto you causing an uncomfortable glare that can have a negative impact on our vision, particularly while driving.
So, how do polarized lenses help?
The majority of this light is horizontally polarized, meaning it is arranged horizontally. A polarization filter is built into a sunglass lens and aligned vertically, therefore blocking the horizontally oriented light and almost completely eliminating the glare-causing reflections.
A further key advantage is more sharply focused vision. Contours become clearer; vision in bright sunlight is perceived as much more relaxing and less fatiguing. In other words, these polarized lenses don't just protect your eyes against the sun – they also ensure improved vision without irritating glare.
Polarized lenses also reduce eye fatigue and strain. Eye fatigue is caused as your pupils are chasing this reflected light, constantly expanding and contracting, adjusting to the changing angle and intensity of the light. This eye fatigue is a direct trigger for headaches and migraines.
How do they compare to regular sun lenses?
Sunglasses that are not polarized are often referred to as “tints”- Tints help reduce sunlight intensity and offer the same protection against UV light.
While polarized lenses do sharpen your vision in situations where glare can be distracting or even potentially harmful, they don't offer any additional protection from UV light. Basically, they're not healthier for your eyes, but they do improve your vision for many outdoor activities.
Is there a downside to them?
Polarized lenses require an additional filter that needs to be built into the lens and are usually a surfaced lens (custom-made), meaning that they are slightly higher in cost than just regular tinted lenses.
Another thing to note is that when using your phone or another digital device, the screen may have a “rainbow effect” or it may become very dark and almost impossible to read. This is because the light from your phone/devices screen contains a polarized filter that when looking at through another polarized filtering lens, makes it almost disappear completely.
What is the average cost of polarized lenses?
We’ll be comparing the most cost effective options from the 3 most popular lens companies that we offer- Nikon, Zeiss and Essilor.
Keep in mind that the options from these companies are just that- options. There are many, many options available from each company that can be customized to fit your needs specifically. These are for a basic prescription (or none) looking for the most cost effective option.
Nikon- $239 This includes: full UV protection, scratch resistant coating, 3 different color options, all in a polarized lens
Zeiss- $289. This includes: full UV protection, scratch resistant coating, 3 different color options, all in a polarized lens
Essilor- $369. This includes: full UV protection, scratch resistant coating, 7 different color options, all in a polarized lens.
As you can tell, there is a bit of a price difference between all 3 of them. They all have the same coating type, however Essilor does have 4 more options in terms of colours compared to the other 2 companies- which is reflected in the price as well.
As mentioned previously, these are just the most cost effective options from these top companies. There are much more color, coating and lens material
options available. We also have access to other leading companies with many different options for color and price as well.
The easiest way to determine which lens option is best for you is to book an appointment with one of our in-house opticians who will walk you through the process from start to finish, and address all your questions and concerns.
How worthwhile are they for a city like Ottawa?
At this point, you should have a good idea of what a polarized lens is, how it protects you, and an average cost. But now you’re probably wondering how worthwhile they would be in Ottawa. We live in a city full of outdoor activities! Anyone who is bothered by the glare outdoors or are light-sensitive (including someone who has had cataract surgery) can benefit from polarized lenses. They’re extremely helpful for driving around our sunny city and for activities near the water - boating, fishing, going to a cottage.
Ottawa is also a city where it feels like winter takes up most of the year.
While the sun can reflect off flat surfaces like water, snow is actually also a flat surface included in this. On a sunny winter’s day in Ottawa, you may have noticed that those blankets of snow that are around every corner are extremely bright and uncomfortable to look at. Polarized lenses will help eliminate the glare that causes this.
Book your appointment with our opticians now to see what options you have for your lenses!