When buying a pair of sunglasses, most people may simply go for their favourite brand, but the vision-savvy buyer will ensure they get polarised lenses, as Nicky Collinson reports
The foundations of modern polarised lens technology were laid in 1929 when US inventor and physicist Dr Edwin Land created the world’s first synthetic sheet polariser. This ability to polarise – to selectively “screen out” light waves that create glare – led to the development in 1935 of the first polarised sunglasses.
One in five pairs of sunglasses sold around the world now have polarised lenses, according to Polaroid Eyewear, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.
Rebecca Harwood Lincoln, Polaroid Eyewear manager, UK and Ireland, explains more about the technology. “Essentially, polarised lenses protect your eyes from harsh glare, making it much more comfortable to see while outdoors, whether you are sunbathing, taking part in sport or driving,” she says.
“Glare is concentrated light that reduces visibility and makes it difficult to see clearly. Basically, sunlight is made up of waves travelling in all different directions, but when light reflects off a horizontal surface, such as roads or water, it becomes concentrated horizontally as glare.
“Polarised lenses block glare and allow vertical light waves through because they are useful to the eyes, helping us to see clearly.”
By cutting out horizontal glare, polarised lenses stop you squinting in bright sunlight, and reduce the risk of eyestrain and headaches by protecting the eyes from overworking. Polarised lenses also enable you to see “true” colours and contrasts, which is particularly helpful for viewing traffic signals or motorway signs when you’re behind the wheel.
Polarised lenses protect your eyes from harsh glare, making it much more comfortable to see while outdoors
To mark its 75th anniversary, Polaroid has launched a special edition aviator called Seventy-five based on its 1970s best-seller. The frames feature Polaroid’s latest UltraSight lenses, treated with an anti-reflective coating on the back and stylish flash mirroring on the front, for glare-free vision and a great look.
Polarised lens technology is constantly evolving and improving, with more technically advanced products than ever to choose from.
Another new polarised lens innovation is Carrera Ultrapolar, the first Carrera lens that uses APSTTM Advanced Polarised Surface Technology – a patented non-film polarised back-surface coating. These new lenses, which add high technical value to the new Carrera sunglasses, manufactured and distributed by Safilo, are designed to deliver excellent visibility in any light conditions. They offer sharpness and protection against distortion and glare, even in high altitude or near water. The high-performance sunglasses are stylish and contemporary, and the lens and frame colours can be matched from a choice of green, grey-green or brown tones.
The key point to remember about polarisation is that normal sun lenses merely decrease the transmission of light, reducing its intensity, while polarised lenses shield the reflected rays, enabling more comfortable vision, increasing the deepness of the field of vision and improving colour perception.
Whether you’re playing a round of golf, driving on your daily commute or lazing by the pool on holiday, you will want your vision to be the best it can be. So next time you’re browsing the racks for a new pair of sunglasses, ask your optician about polarised lenses. The benefits are glaringly obvious.