Don’t know if you’ve heard…
Polarised sunglasses already have anti-glare properties… but just not in the same way that anti-glare lens coatings work.
Weird, I know.
To get your head around this, it’s a good idea to understand how they each function, both separately and together. (Yes you can have both at the same time.)
Frankly, polarised lenses are very ‘under the radar’ when it comes to public knowledge.
Which is why this handy article is going to clear things up.
Anti-reflective and anti-glare are actually the same thing.
Optically, these terms are regularly interchanged.
However, when you’re asking “do I need anti-glare on polarised sunglasses?” you’re actually confusing a lens coating with a lens-type.
Keeping things simple, here’s some key points outlining the differences between an anti-reflective coating and polarised lenses.
Anti-reflective/glare lenses key points
To learn about anti-glare coating for spectacles, click here.
Anti glare lenses pros and cons
AG/AR coatings are commonly applied to prescription spectacle lenses, especially if they’re high index.
High index optical lenses tend to reflect more light than weaker dioptre lenses. This is why an AG/AR coating is applied to let the light pass through the lens, rather than bouncing off it.
But when it comes to anti-glare on polarised sunglasses, AG/AR coatings are only ever applied to the back-surface of the lens. This allows rear-entry light pass through your lens, away from your eyes rather than bouncing backward.
The only con of anti-glare coatings is they can make your sunglasses more expensive, unless of course it’s offered as standard like ours.
Should I get anti reflective coating on polarised sunglasses?
Recreational sunglasses that don’t have side shields tend to have large gaps at the sides and top of the frame front. This allows sunlight to get-in behind your lenses (light leak) which would otherwise bounce backwards into your eyes. Anti-reflective coatings prevent this from happening, therefore are a good method of improving the performance of sunglasses.
At Banton Frameworks, our polarised lenses use an anti-glare coating on the rear-surface of the lens. This lets any light-leak pass through from the back and away from your eyes. A bit like a two-way mirror.
Polarised filtration from the front, seamless vision from the back.
If your current lenses don’t already have this, you may experience annoying reflections depending on the angle between you and the sun. Sometimes, you see your own eyes which is just annoying and also kinda creepy.
Do I need anti glare on polarised sunglasses?
If you’re willing to invest in lenses with anti-reflective coating, you’ll benefit from a reduction of sunlight “bounce back.” Over time, outside in the sun, this coating will reduce the amount of visual strain on your eyes and alleviate eye fatigue from naturally compensating to see.
Now it’s time to take a look at polarised sunglasses to determine their benefits compared to an anti-reflective coating.
Polarised lenses are widely considered as a superior type of sunglasses lens, especially from an anti-glare perspective.
This is due to the way they work, explained in the key points listed below.
Polarised lenses key points.
The way these lenses work is solely due to their ‘sandwich’ construction, with a chemical, polariser film sandwiched between multiple lens-layers.
This chemical-film (the polariser) contains hundreds of microscopic rows of vertically aligned molecules, similar to vertical Venetian window blinds.
This vertical orientation acts like a filter, only letting vertically orientated light to pass through the lens.
Making sense so far?
When sunlight hits the ground or sea, it bounces off and becomes horizontally polarised. This is due to the way it’s become reflected and condensed off a horizontal plane.
And yes, it’s piercingly bright to look towards when you’re outside.
This, my friend, is called glare.
Remember those vertically aligned molecules? They stop most of that horizontally polarised light (glare) from passing through your polarised sunglasses and interfering with your vision, perception of colour and visual consistency.
This provides you with a silky smooth, uninterrupted view of what’s in front of you. Free from glare and safely protected from UV light.
Yep, polarised lenses are pretty damn good. Which is exactly why we fit them to all of our British made sunglasses at no extra charge.
Before you make any decisions about either type of lens, it’s imperative that they provide you with basic UV protection.
Polarised or not, your sunglasses need to block at least 99% of UV light in compliance with European standards; EN 1836:2005.
Come on. Just because lenses are polarised, doesn’t mean they’re any more or less capable of blocking the damaging frequencies of electromagnetic light.
As a rule of thumb, always check the UV rating of sunglasses lenses. They should come with a rating such as UV400 or UV40. (They’re the same thing.)
This means they protect your eyes from UVA and UVB light which are the most damaging frequencies within the UV light spectrum.
But is polarised better?
The reality is that polarised lenses are substantially more effective at reducing glare.
Winter or summer, reflected sunlight hammering your eyes is pretty unavoidable. Non-polarised lenses aren’t as good at blocking this glare which provides a lower quality viewing experience compared to polarised lenses.
This additional functionality is why they’re so popular for water sports as they allow you to see more clearly and focus for longer time periods.
Do I need anti glare on polarised sunglasses?
You do not need anti-glare coatings on the front surface of polarised sunglasses. They already block glare from their in-built polariser which is sandwiched within the layers of the polarised lens. Anti-glare may be applied to the rear surface of the lens to prevent light from bouncing back into your eyes.
Are polarised better?
For tasks which require long periods of visual focus, such as driving, outdoor reading or sports, polarised sunglasses are a better choice of sunglasses lens.
Over time, they reduce the strain placed on your eyes from reflected glare and prevent you from naturally compensating by squinting to see.
Polarised lenses can cost you more but our sunglasses are fitted with these lenses as standard with the addition of anti-glare on the rear-surface of the lenses. That’s why they have this incredible blue tint to them which is the AR coating, doing its magical work.
Do sunglasses need to be polarised?
Polarised lenses are only better at reducing glare to improve your visual endurance, colour perception and optical clarity. Polarised lenses provide no extra protection against UV light therefore are not a mandatory upgrade.
If you’d like to learn more about how polarised lenses work, you should check out the other related articles at the foot of this blog page.
Thanks for stopping by.
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