8 min read

Man and woman both wearing polarised prescription sunglasses facing viewer

 

 

Take a high-performance sun lens.

Add your prescription.

Put those good things together, boy you’ll have a seriously good pair of sunglasses.

Tailored to your eyes only.

Sure, the benefits of a regular prescription sun-lens will give you the usual benefits of your spectacles; it’s a no brainer.

But when you add polarisation to the equation, this is where your sunglasses can become truly special… if you’re willing to go the extra mile.

So in today’s article, I’m going to discuss the questions and key points surrounding polarised prescription sunglasses and if they’re really worth your investment.

If you like, feel free to skip ahead using the box of key points below.

 

Key points: UV protection | How polarised lenses work | Polarised vs non-polarised | Costs | Lens characteristics | Pros and cons  |  Summary

 

Black sunglasses frame lying folded on grey paper

 

Do prescription sunglasses need to be polarised?

Prescription or not, your sunglasses don’t have to be polarised.

In fact, your sunglasses can be made from a number of lens types including TAC, CR39, polycarbonate, glass or indeed a polarised lens.

The reality is, they can be any type of lens, but only if they provide you with sufficient UV light protection.

It’s a common misconception that polarised sunglasses provide you with better protection against the sun, but this simply isn’t true.

Please, please, please, if there’s anything you can take away from this article it is simply this…

 

Polarised lenses are good at reducing the effects of glare, but they still need to block-out UVA and UVB light. This is single-handedly the most important function of any pair of sunglasses.

 

Very simply, UV light protection is what stops your eyes from being burnt by the damaging frequencies of the electromagnetic light spectrum.

Cheaply made or illegal sunglasses can leave you unknowingly exposed to the sun’s damaging rays, which can lead to significant or even permanent eye damage.

You’ve been warned.

Before you go any further, you should check your current or prospective sunglasses frame for their UV capabilities. Look for EU certification or a label stating UV400 or UV40. This means they’re legal and will legitimately protect your eyes from the sun.

Concluding this first section, your sunglasses don’t have to be polarised to give you proper eye protection. Regular, non-polarised lenses will do just fine.

However…

Polarised prescription sunglasses still provide you with proper UV protection but with the added bonus of glare reduction.

This is due to how polarised lenses work explained in the section below.

 

Close view of a black sunglasses lens

 

What is Polarised lens in sunglasses?

Thanks to the way that polarised lenses are made, they have the upper hand over regular sunglasses when it comes to visual clarity.

In short, polarised sunglasses can filter sunlight based on the angle of its orientation. This means that the only light that can pass through a polarised sun-lens is vertically aligned.

Sounds technical, but let me explain.

When sunlight beams towards the ground, it makes contact with the air, sea and land. If the sunlight hits a shiny surface, such as a car bonnet or water, it’s orientation changes as it reflects off of the horizontal plane.

This is what is known as glare.

As you’ll know, glare is painfully bright to look at as it reflects towards your eyes. You’ll have experienced this at the beach when the sun is bouncing off the water in a piercingly focused direction.

This is exactly where prescription polarised sunglasses can pay dividends.

Because that nasty glare is horizontally orientated, it cannot pass through a polarised lens. This is because polarised lenses have a specially designed layer within them called a polariser.

This layer is a thin film which contains vertically aligned rows of molecules which create a vertically orientated filer. These molecules are super small and super accurate, to the point where they can block light that isn’t vertically orientated.

So you can say goodbye to all that glare because it’s not getting through your sunglasses anymore… if indeed they’re polarised.

 

Struggle to find sunglasses that suit you?

PDF-guide-to-help-you-find-sunglasses-that-suit-you
Download this guide to find the perfect sunglasses for your face shape.

 

     

     

    Which sunglasses are better polarised or nonpolarised?

    By investing in polarised lenses, your vision can be uninterrupted from reflected sunlight.

    Spending time nearby water, or driving your car, all horizontally orientated light will be blocked-out to provide you with a very consistent view, free from glare.

    Non-polarised sunglasses aren’t so good at reducing glare because they don’t contain a polariser. This doesn’t make them any less protective from UV light, but in terms of glare reduction, they aren’t as effective.

    This why polarised lenses are deemed as a superior type of sun lens, simply because they’re more consistent in various light conditions involving reflected sunlight.

    Which, when you think about it, happens all the time when you're next to anything remotely shiny such as water, pavements, roads, cars… the list goes on.

    Combined with your prescription, you can see why polarised lenses are a worthy upgrade. They’ll correct your vision, protect your eyes and reduce glare from the sun.

     

    matte black polarised sunglasses

     

     

     

    Round tortoise sunglasses folded flat on grey paper background

     

    Can prescription sunglasses be polarised?

    Your prescription sunglasses can definitely be polarised.

    In fact, it works exactly the same way as if you were ordering any other type of prescription lens.

    Just like your spectacles, your prescription details are used to determine the sphere, cylinder and axis to determine the strength of your lenses. This can be for single vision, reading, bifocals or varifocals.

    At Banton Frameworks, all of our handmade sunglasses are available with prescription polarised lenses which you can order before or after you purchase your frame.

    Furthermore, you can contact us with any specific features you’d like to include with your lenses such as the darkness of the tint or even their tint-colour, in brown, green or grey.

    To do so, you’ll find our details at the foot of this page under “contact us.”

     

    What is the average cost of prescription sunglasses?

    Banton Frameworks, prescription polarised lenses, basic 2019 prices.

    • Polarised single vision: £49
    • Polarised prescription reading: £49
    • Polarised bifocal: £62
    • Polarised varifocal: £69

    There are a lot of lens options available to you which you can tailor to make your perfect sunglasses.

    To make this really easy for you, you can calculate your lens costs by using our handy lens menu, located beside each of our polarised sunglasses frames.

    If you’re unsure, you can email us with your requirements.

     

    round tortoiseshell polarised sunglasses

     

     

     

     

    Rear view of round tortoise shell sunglasses lenses

     

    Are polarised lenses darker?

    As you already know, polarised sunglasses filter-out horizontally orientated light.

    Resultantly, this filtration reduces the amount of light that passes through the lens providing the usual darkening effect you’d expect from sunglasses.

    But because polarised lenses can filter light based on the axis of its orientation, they’re comparably darker than general-use, non-polarised sun lenses.

    Getting slightly more technical here…

    The darkness of sunglasses lenses is separated into five types of lens category. Ranging from category 0 to category 4, lenses are measured by their visual light transmission, otherwise known as VLT.

    Lenses with 100% light transmission let 100% of sunlight through the lens. This wouldn’t be useful as a sun lens and would be fall within category 0.

    At the other end of the spectrum, lenses with a VLT of 8% or less are extremely dark and generally used for high-exposure environments such as mountaineering. Lenses this dark are within category 4 and aren’t suitable for most daily situations, especially for driving.

    To get the most from your polarised prescription sunglasses, you’ll want your lenses to be somewhere in the middle. A category 2 or 3 lens will provide sufficient darkness of lens without being either too light or way too dark.

    The darkness of your sun lenses is entirely up to you, but for good measure, here’s a reference chart you can use to get an idea of the VLT categories.

     

    Category

    VLT

    Tint

    Sunlight

    0

    80% - 100%

    Very low

    Cloudy

    1

    43% - 80%

    Low

    Low

    2

    18% - 43%

    Medium

    Medium

    3

    8% - 18%

    Dark

    High

    4

    3% - 8%

    Very dark

    Very high

     

    To give you a little more context, our non-prescription polarised sunglasses are fitted with a category 3 sun lens.

    They have a VLT of 11% which makes them relatively dark, but suitable for daily general use and driving during the day.

     

    Grey polarised sunglasses frame lying flat on light grey background

     

    Are polarised sunglasses worth it?

    If you’re considering a pair of polarised prescription sunglasses you’ll want to know if they’re really worth the money.

    Good thing you asked because our recent market research revealed that some of the most popular brands charge an average of 28% more for the privilege of a polarised lens.

    And that’s before you add your prescription into the mix…

    To save you time and effort, you can quickly calculate the cost of your lenses using our lens menu beside in each of our polarised sunglasses frames.

    If you’re still unsure, here’s a list of polarised sunglasses pros and cons to help you decide if these lenses are the ones for you.

     

    Advantages of polarised prescription sunglasses

    • UVA and UVB light protection
    • Drastically reduces glare
    • Improved visual acuity
    • Consistent in numerous light conditions
    • Contains your prescription
    • Legal to use whilst driving
    • Reduces visual fatigue

     

    Disadvantages of polarised prescription sunglasses

    • Not suitable for certain occupations & sports
    • Can distort or block LCD screens
    • 28% more expensive (market average)
    • Flattens white tones

     

    Whilst there are many advantages of polarised sunglasses, you should be aware that they aren’t always suitable for everyone’s needs.

    Listed above, polarised lenses have a habit of affecting your ability to see liquid crystal displays (LCD’s.) Depending on the angle of how you look at digital devices, polarised lenses can actually make the screen go entirely black.

    Explained earlier, this due to the way these lenses work to block horizontal light.

    For prescription use, this side-effect might discourage you from a polarised lens, especially if you’re wanting to see your phone or iPad more easily out and about in the sun.

    Other screens such as petrol/diesel pumps or bank ATM screens can also be hindered so it can become a bit of an issue for various life tasks.

    However.

    Polarised sunglasses are an excellent choice if you spend long periods out in the sun where you require long-term visual focus.

    You may have noticed polarised lenses’ popularity for sports and for driving. This is because they help to reduce visual fatigue over long periods of time.

    For fishing, for sailing or just for driving your car, the reduction of glare places less strain on your eyes. In turn, this removes your need to squint to see properly which alleviates a great deal of visual exertion.

    On long journeys in your car, polarised lenses can drastically reduce eye-strain which can prevent visual fatigue and even the onset of a headache.

     

    Round blue sunglasses with silver arms

     

    What are the best prescription sunglasses?

    Based on the evidence above, polarised lenses are arguably a worthy, secondary upgrade.

    As a reminder, prescription sunglasses don’t necessarily have to be polarised but you’ve seen how they can improve the overall performance of your sunglasses.

    Polarisation is a nice way to improve your vision, accompanied by your optical prescription. For many tasks, this upgrade can improve daily scenarios by protecting your eyes from UV light, reducing glare and ultimately, help you to see.

    If you find these aspects to be important, you can see why polarised prescription lenses are worth the extra money.

     

    black square polarised sunglasses

     

     

     

    Struggle to find sunglasses that suit you?

    PDF-guide-to-help-you-find-sunglasses-that-suit-you
    Download this guide to find the perfect sunglasses for your face shape.

     

       

       



      Jamie Bartlett: co-founder

      Thanks for taking the time to read this article.

      If you have any questions or comments, click on my picture in this box and you get in touch with me.

      To learn more about how polarised lenses work, you should check out my previous article which goes into more detail about the benefits of polarised vs non polarised sunglasses.

      If you found this blog useful, don’t forget to hit the social share buttons below.

       

       

      Jamie Bartlett
      Jamie Bartlett

      Co-founder of Banton Frameworks.



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