The Pros and Cons of Polarized Sunglasses
Everyone who works, plays or just hangs out outside should wear sunglasses with 100% UV protection. You are significantly more likely to develop cataracts, and are at higher risk for other eye diseases as well, if you do not use sunglasses on a regular basis. Traditional sunglasses offer protection from the sun as a whole but may not shield your eyes from the glare of reflected light.
Light rays that are reflected off of large, flat surfaces such as water, snow fields and the hoods of cars travel to the eyes in a more aligned pattern than usual, which results in blinding glare that can make outdoor activities uncomfortable or even dangerous. Polarized sunglasses filter incoming light rays and block this glare, making your time outside safer and more comfortable. They are even available as photochromic (transitions) lenses, for those who like their lenses to darken automatically.
Who would benefit most from polarized sunglasses?
If you enjoy outdoor sports and hobbies such as boating, fishing, biking, and hiking polarized sunglasses may be a great option for you. Drivers will likely appreciate polarized lenses, especially on long road trips, as they can block glare from the road and car, making it easier to see. They can also be beneficial when worn indoors by those with increased sensitivity to light, such as from cataract surgery, other eye surgeries and eye conditions or as a side effect of medication.
When polarized glasses might be more con than pro
While polarized sunglasses offer many great benefits, they can cause problems during certain activities. Downhill skiers, for instance, might actually need some of the reflected glare to spot hazards like ice patches in their path.
In addition, polarized sunglasses might interfere with seeing the LCD displays on the dashboards of some cars, the screens of ATMs, your cell phone or your GPS navigation unit. Fishermen might have issues with seeing their fish finder display or other equipment as well. In these cases, the polarized sunglasses might actually be a nuisance or a danger rather than a benefit and should be carefully considered with all pros and cons weighed before making a decision. One possible solution could be the flip-up polarized shades that attach to the frames of regular glasses, dropping down when needed for glare protection and then flipping up and out of the way when they are not needed or when they could be hampering the vision.
Consider all options
No matter what outdoor activities you enjoy, you want to do so with good eye health and safety in mind. You certainly don't want to have to fumble around with a whole suitcase of different types of eyewear to put on for different situations. Your eye care professional can help you find the most convenient and cost effective solution for the widest variety of situations. He or she can also help you weigh the options, including polarized lenses, and explain their benefits and drawbacks. Whenever possible, experiment with different solutions before you make your final selection and purchase, so that you know that you will be happy with your decision.
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