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What's the difference between polarized and regular sunglasses?

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Dr. Marc Weinstein

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Healthy and Fashionable; sunglasses at a glance.

A fashion statement or an optical healthcare tool; what if one accessory does both jobs at once?

Sunglasses stepped in as a major survival technique during the second world war. At this time, people would deep their eyeglasses into dye to shield their eyes from brightness. Gradually, sunglasses started to gain recognition as an integral part of dressing. Even as fashion continues to catch up with modernization, sunglasses still retain their status as a prominent  part of dressing, health and eye care.

Therefore, it is important to identify the various types of sunglasses, how they suit the eye as well as how they affect it.

What are the benefits of wearing sunglasses?

It reduces the likelihood of Skin Cancer:

The skin around the eye is one of the thinnest and most vulnerable parts of the skin. When UV radiation reaches the eyes, it alters the DNA of the eye to cause cancer on the eyelid or the delicate skin around the eye. Sunglasses, however, prevent this by shielding this delicate skin from UV rays.

Prevents Macular Degeneration

Macular Degeneration is the loss of sight in the center of the field of vision. It could be because of the Degeneration of the retina or the growth of leaky blood vessels below the retina. Sunglasses help By block the UV light from the retina.

It Lowers the Risk of Cataracts

Though the exact cause of cataracts has not been discovered, there are claims that sunlight increases the risk of cataracts. This is because the sun radiates UV light and passes through the eye to the lens to cause this disease. Sunglasses reduce the amount of sunlight that enters the eye and subsequently reduces the risk.

It reduces Migraines

At least 60% of migraines are caused by light. Despite this fact, people are most exposed to sunlight naturally. Sunglasses shield the eyes from the intensity of light. Therefore, sunglasses reduce the rate and intensity of migraines.

Personalizing your Style

Aside from the health benefits that sunglasses herald, they also make a striking fashion statement that amplifies your style.

It's interesting how such a stylish accessory could also have these many health benefits.

Types of Sunglasses

As much as sunglasses are fast becoming a must-have accessory, it also is a must-have for eye care and sometimes for issues concerning life or death. It's said that a driver with sunglasses is likely to sight an object many feet earlier than a driver with regular lenses on.

This goes to show how important it is, the type of sunglasses we get. Below are the major types of sunglasses.



Photochromic: (this kind of sunglasses are transparent in shaded or dim-lighted places and shaded when in bright places)

What are tinted lenses?

Tinted lenses are great for outdoor enthusiasts, athletes, travelers, or anyone who wants to add a pop of color to their life and fashion.

Tinted glasses absorb light, reducing the amount of light that gets through to the eye.  Tinted glasses dim the light intensity on the objects in focus without blurring them.

Common tint colors are amber, brown, copper, orange, gray, and near-black tinting. Tint colors tend to affect the contrast of the focus objects and cause some pop shades. Although grey and brown are the universal colors used for tints, some colors tend to work better for specific environments. For example, blue and yellow tend to work well in a sports arena.

Most glasses in the US are tinted. Standard tinted glasses are dark from top to bottom, while fashion ones have the dark parts faded out towards the bottom.

What are polarized lenses?

Just like tinted lenses, Polarized lenses also reduce the light intensity of images. However, polarized lenses also dim glares out. (a glare is a horizontally polarized light.) Glares could range from rays of light that are bright enough to cause distractions or bad enough to blind the eye. From summer to winter, the sun never ceases to cast its bright rays on objects. This makes polarized lenses an everyday-all-day sight saver.

Doctors tend to recommend polarized lenses because they not only protect the eye, they heal it.

What are photochromic lenses?

As they are popularly called, photochromic or transition lenses darken themselves once exposed to light. They spread out shade whenever they are in a bright space and brighten up in a dark or dim space. They are like sunglasses in the sun but are regular glasses in the absence of brightness. Usually, it takes about a minute for the glasses to darken and a little more to clear up. These photochromic glasses are UV light sensitive. Thus, in the abundance of UV light, the lenses will stay dim for up to fifteen minutes and clear up in about 2 minutes.

It is also pertinent to note that this transition of lens is very temperature-dependent.

Photochromic lenses are very beneficial for filtering out UV rays. Its filtering capacity has been reported to range up to 100% for UVA or UVB. These glasses can also function as medically prescribed glasses or as sunglasses.

The importance of sunglasses can never be over-emphasized. Its use, ranging from a style-defining accessory to an eye healer. Shopping for your next pair of sunglasses should be done carefully. Don't forget that shades protect your eyes. And in all, never stop making a fashion statement.