Sunglasses are a hot commodity in the summer months as well as all year round, and for good reasons. They protect your eyes from the harmful UV radiation and provide comfort from the brightness of the sun. Various forms of damage to the eye have been linked to sun exposure including the acceleration of cataracts, cancers and macular degeneration. An added bonus is that they are a fashion statement that can make us look good as well.

The question that frequently arises when investing in a pair of sunglasses is whether to choose a polarized lens or a dark tinted lens. Both polarized and tinted lenses offer many benefits, including blocking the brightness of the sun, but there are instances in which there is an advantage of one over the other.

POLARIZED LENSES

A polarized lens is manufactured with a laminated coating with a vertical pattern applied to the lenses. When sunlight strikes flat surfaces the reflected light travels in a horizontal direction, the result of which is glare and reduced visibility. The polarization of the lens then blocks the horizontal rays as they will not fit through the vertical laminate pattern. This eliminates the glare that can potentially obstruct your vision, and allows for an improvement in visibility and clarity. This brings about the elimination of glare from for example, the windshield of a nearby car, wet roads, and glare reflecting up from a body of water thus allowing for a clear view behind the windshield or below the water.

Despite these great benefits of wearing a polarized lens however, there are some instances where polarization is not recommended. Probably the biggest detriment to wearing a polarized lens is that it can make certain screens difficult to read, such as LCD screens and some dashboard screens. This is because liquid crystal displays are also polarized, so viewing with a polarized lens can cancel out much of your image. It is mainly for this reason that pilots are not recommended to wear polarized lenses, in addition to the potential of interfering with the visibility through an aircraft windscreen, where the "sparkle" of glare can forewarn a pilot of a nearby plane.

TINTED LENSES

Color tinted lenses may come with varying degrees of darkness. Darker shades are generally used for sunglasses, while lighter shades can be added for a pop of color for fashion. Based on how much light is able to pass through, tinted lenses will reduce the brightness and intensity of the light caused by glare, but not eliminate the glare itself. Of course it is of utmost importance to ensure that the tinted lenses also have 100% UV protection. There are some advantages to having a tinted sunglass lens vs a polarized. One major advantage is that the tint will not skew the viewing of any digital device such as a cell phone or any LCD device. Another advantage is that the lens can be made in a wide variety of, or even combination of colors as well as intensity of color. It is easily customized to suit ones desire.