Polarized Sunglasses or UV400 Sunglasses: The Ultimate Guide to choosing the Right Sunglasses for You

While most of us look at style, trend, shape and beauty when choosing the type of sunglasses to buy, it is important to note that those are not the only things to consider when shopping for sunglasses. It is necessary to consider how protective the lenses of the glasses are before we commit to buying them.

In this article, we’ll be doing a comparison of the two type of lenses in sunglasses, and which one offers the best protection for our eyes. After all, who doesn’t love the best things?

Polarized Lenses

Polarized lenses have a special chemical applied to them to filter bright, reflected light. Sunglasses with polarized lenses are specialized eyewear designed to reduce ‘glare’ from surfaces such as water, snow and glass.

Glare is what happens when the sun hits a flat surface and the light is reflected back into your eyes at a greater magnitude. It is basically the bright reflection of light from smooth surfaces such as calm water or a flat piece of sheet metal. We’ve all experienced glare in our daily lives; perhaps spending the day at the beach, driving in a car with the sun reflecting off the dashboard or on a boat with the sun illuminating the surface of the water.

Polarized lenses contain a laminated filter that allows only vertically oriented light to pass through. It blocks the horizontally oriented light so that glare is almost eliminated.

Polarized sunglasses may be especially helpful when boating, driving during the day, golfing, fishing or when in snowy environments.

Polarized lens infographic
Infographic credit Marvel Optics

UV400 Lenses

‘UV400’ refers to UV rays at the top end of the UV spectrum which blocks all light rays with wavelength up to 400 nanometers.

Unlike wrinkles and sunburns, we can’t see the damage the sun is doing to our eyes. The sunlight that reaches us consists of two harmful rays: UVA and UVB. Both are harmful to our eyes, which is why sunglasses are essential. Short-term overexposure to these days can lead to ‘photokeratitis’- a type of sunburn to the outer layer of the cornea that can happen after spending too much time at high altitudes with limited sun protection (like during snow sports). Long term exposure could also increase the risk of specific eye conditions such as cataracts, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and other types of eyelid cancer.

The designation UV400 lenses with guaranteed UV protection protects against these harmful UVA and UVB radiation. Therefore, investing in sunglasses that are labeled UV400 blocks 99 to 100% of UV light.

It’s important to note that the darkness of your sunglasses has nothing to do with UV protection. It’s entirely possible to buy a pair of dark tinted shades that do not provide adequate UV protection.

What is UV400 sunglasses and what do they do. UV400 sunglasses infographic.
Infographic credit Safety Gear Pro

Which is right for you?

Polarized Sunglasses are good for:

  • Improving contrast and visual clarity
  • Improving visual comfort
  • Allowing for true perception of colors
  • Reducing eye strain
  • Reducing reflection and eliminating glare

They’re however not good for:

  • Looking at LCD screens
  • Flying
  • Low-light situations and driving at night
  • People whose sight may be sensitive to how the lenses change lighting

UV400 lenses, on the other hand:

  • Is an effective blocker of harmful UV rays
  • Helps with protection against skin cancer. The delicate skin around your eyes is more likely to be at risk for carcinoma.
  • Decreases possibility of eye conditions such as macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, pterygium and photokeratitis.
  • Reduces headaches and migraines.

Summarily, sunglasses are to the eyes what sunscreen is to the skin. In this context, UV400 lenses are like SPF 45 while polarized lenses are SPF 15. That being said, the more protection you have, the better care you are taking of your eyesight.

While UV protection is absolutely necessary in your sunglasses in order to protect your eyes, polarized sunglasses are optional and a matter of personal preference.

These days, polarized lenses and UV protection are paired in most sunglasses. So the good news is that you don’t have to choose! Plenty of the sunglasses on Shari Dionne offer full UV protection with polarized lenses- so you can eat your cake and have it, too.