by Jamie Bartlett March 26, 2019 8 min read

Wait, you don’t have physics degree?

No worries. 

This article will explain how polarised lenses work and why we fit them to all of our UK made sunglasses frames.


Tortoise sunglasses frame standing upright on its own


Polarised sunglasses meaning

Primarily, polarised lenses are known for their ability to reduce the effects of glare.

This is due to the way they can filter sunlight as it enters the lens. Compared to regular sunglasses, polarised sunglasses can block sunlight based on the angle of it's orientation.

Sounds technical...

But this functionality is what gives polarised lenses the upper hand when it comes to performance when you're out in the sun.

To give you a clearer understanding of what polarised do, how they work and how they can benefit you, this article is going to tackle the following key-points.

Feel free to jump ahead by clicking any of the bullets below. 



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    What are polarised lenses made of?

    Despite the unoriginal name, polarised sun lenses contain, wait for it… a polariser.

    Polarisers are a clever little chemical film, neatly sandwiched within the layers of your lenses.

    This is where all the magic happens.

    The polariser-layer contains hundreds of minuscule rows of neatly aligned molecules which are vertically orientated to your face, lined up and down.


    Think of these molecular rows as vertically aligned window-blinds which act as a way of controlling the light that passes through your lenses.

    Sure, this sounds a little basic, but this chemical film is what takes your sunglasses game to the next level by filtering-out polarised sunlight.

    So why are polarised sunglasses better?


    Close side view of man wearing tortoise polarised sunglasses


    What are the benefits of polarised sunglasses?

    When the sun’s out, the light heading downward towards your lenses is travelling in an uninterrupted, linear direction.

    In this state, the light is unpolarised consisting of two oscillating waves travelling perpendicularly to one another. One horizontal wave and one vertical wave.

    Thanks to the polariser, your lenses only let vertically orientated light-waves enter through the lens whilst the horizontal waves are completely blocked out.


    Illustration showing how polarised sunglasses reduce horizontally polarised light


    For you, this means that most of the unpolarised light that’s allowed to pass through the lens is all neatly organised in a vertical orientation.

    This orderly filtration gives you a silky-smooth view of your environment, giving superb definition free from glare.

    But wait, it gets even better…


    Brown haired woman wearing tortoise polarised sunglasses on bright sunny day


    What are the advantages of polarised lenses?

    With unpolarised light being attended to, it’s time for the party piece.

    Filtering reflected, polarised sunlight.

    This occurs when sunlight reflects off molecules, which happens a heck of a lot considering that molecules are just about everywhere. They make up our land, sea and air around us.

    This is where your polarised sunglasses are a complete game changer. They can almost completely eliminate glare.

    But that are polarised lenses so good for when it comes to glare?


    Illustration how polarised lenses reduce reflected glare


    When you’re out and about, large reflective surfaces such as water, snow or even pavements act like gigantic outdoor mirrors.

    When sunlight reflects off these surfaces, the axis of the light’s wave-orientation changes in direction as it become reflected and scattered.


    Scattered light is more horizontally orientated, not to mention more focused. This creates a really harsh concentrated amount of second-hand sunlight called glare.


    You’ll have experienced the effects of glare walking next to water on a bright sunny day. It’s literally blinding, not to mention painful to look towards.


    Harsh glare from the sun reflecting from the sea in a harbour


    Polarised sunglasses to the rescue.

    Once again, the vertically aligned polariser in your lenses drastically reduces the amount of horizontally aligned light from entering your eyes.

    This reduction of glare makes them a comparably superior choice to regular sun lenses whilst protecting your eyes from UV light.


    Whilst regular sunglasses can provide basic protection against vertically and horizontally orientated UV light, polarised sunglasses are mroe able to diminish the effects of reflected glare.


    This is arguably why polarised sunglasses are considered as a superior type of sunglasses lens.


    Young man wearing white Tshirt and black sunglasses frame in front of concrete wall


    Are Polarised lenses worth it?

    Depending on your lifestyle and where you live, there’s various considerations when it comes to your choice of sunglasses lenses.

    If you spend a lot of time outside, especially in the summer months, you might be wondering if polarised sunglasses are really worth the extra money.

    Recently, we conducted some market research to explore the prices differences between polarised and non polarised sunglasses frames. If you're budget-conscious, and want to check out the financial comparisons, click here.

    But in terms of uses, are polarised lenses really all that different? In the following section you can learn where polarised lenses can really pay off.


    What are polarised lenses good for?


    White yacht sailing on the sea


    Polarised sailing sunglasses

    Polarised sunglasses benefits those who partake when it outdoor activities, especially when comes to water sports.

    If you like to go fishing, sailing, kayaking or river-boating, the glare reduction from a polarised sun lenses will benefit you.

    Depending on your route or direction of travel, prolonged glare from the water’s surface can impede your performance and ability to focus on what you are doing.


    Whether you’re a serious sportsperson or just a weekend warrior, reflected water glare is serious concern when it comes to the health of your eyes and skin.


    Extended exposure from the sun can lead to squinting, eye strain and eventually headaches.

    Fully protective UV sun-lenses which are polarised will help to mitigate these side effects out on the water.


    Shop polarised sunglasses.


    Vinatge photo of skiers wearing sunglasses


    Polarised sunglasses for skiing

    Out on the slopes, polarised sunglasses have a division of opinion.

    Sure, they reduce the glare being reflected from the snow around you, but the lenses have a habit of reducing visibility of contrast.

    For skiers or snowboarders, this can make it difficult for you to detect icy patches on the slope ahead of you.

    And so the controversy continues…


    However, one thing’s for sure; a good pair of polarised sunglasses will keep the glare at bay which can be nearly blinding up in the mountains.


    That glacial glare can be kept a bay thanks to the chemical film in your sunglasses.


    Shop polarised sunglasses.


    Winding rural road in remote landscape


    Driving sunglasses

    By far, the most common application for polarised sunglasses is for driving.

    Day to day, you’re more likely to get behind the wheel of a car than the helm of a 50-foot yacht. Right?

    Either way, commuting in winter or in summer requires prolonged periods of visual focus.

    Whilst regular sunglasses will keep the UV light out, low level sun or dazzling road-reflections from your car bonnet are a further consideration.


    If you do a lot of driving, polarised sunglasses are a good way to reduce eye strain, especially with the addition of proper UV protection and your prescription lens power.


    That’s right, you can have prescription polarised sunglasses.

    Using our handy lens-menu, you can combine your prescription with a polarised sun lens to make your own bespoke pair of ultimate driving sunglasses.

    Click here to see our lens packages.


    Man wearing black frame sunglasses and white Tshirt


    Are polarised sunglasses better for your eyes?

    Straight up, your sunglasses NEED to have UV protection.

    Polarised or not, UV light protection this is the single most important aspect to your sunglasses frame.

    It’s as important as sunscreen but for your eyes.

    Ultimately, regular sun lenses should filter out 99 -100% of UVA and UVB light.

    These short frequencies of light are present in the electromagnetic light spectrum which aren’t visible to the human eye.

    They’re the most damaging types of UV light which penetrate the atmosphere from the sun. Long-term exposure to UVA and UVB light can lead to skin cancer, cataracts, macular degeneration and photokeratitis.


    For proper protection, polarised sunglasses should be equally as efficient at blocking these light frequencies. If they are, you can enjoy the bonus benefits of their anti-glare properties.


    You’ll be glad to know that all of Banton Frameworks polarised sunglasses are CE marked and rated to UV400 sun protection.

    High-glare environments near water, snow, ice are where polarised sunglasses can be better for your eyes, especially under long durations of visual focus.

    The reduction of glare is your big bonus compared to non polarised sunglasses.

    So are polarised sunglasses better?

    We’d say so.


    Shop polarised sunglasses.


    Mobile phone with dark screen because of polarised sunglasses

    Disadvantages of polarised sunglasses

    What are polarised lenses doing to my phone screen?

    Many mobile phones have an in-built polariser in their LCD screens.

    This means that they emit pre-polarised light which helps you to see the screen in various light conditions, inside or outdoors.


    Because the light is polarised, it’s axis of polarisation can conflict with the vertical alignment of the polariser within your sun lenses.


    Light emitted from mobile phones tend to have an axis of 45 or 135 degrees so you can benefit from the phone’s polariser whether your holding it portrait or landscape.

    Who doesn’t hold their phone sideways for YouTube videos anyway?

    You might experience that your phone screen is partially or entirely blackened. This can get pretty annoying so the best way to fix this is to change the angle of your phone.


    Person tiliting a mobile phone to see the screen more easily through polarised sunglasses


    Looking at the screen, simply rotate your phone keeping your head at a normal, neutral position. Eventually, you’ll find a “sweet spot” where the screen is at it’s brightest.

    This is usually 45 degrees opposite to the angle of your phone’s polarisation.

    If you’ve made this far in the article, you’re becoming a pro.

    Fact: Pilots aren’t allowed to wear polarised sunglasses because they can interfere or entirely block important information shown on LCD dials and screens.


    Unless you’re a pilot, go right ahead…

    You can enjoy the benefits of polarised sunglasses in day to day life without the fear of crashing a plane.


    Man on motorcylce taking a corner on an uphill mountain road


    What are polarised lenses doing to the road ahead of me?

    If you drive a car, polarised sunglasses are an excellent option.

    They reduce glare from shiny surfaces such as your bonnet or damp road surfaces which reduces visual fatigue, especially on long car journeys.

    But if you ride a motorcycle, this reduction of glare can be a bit of a hazard. As a motorcyclist, you have a far more intimate relationship with the surface of the road, it’s varying textures and undulations.

    Puddles, icy patches or dreaded oil spills are ‘flattened’ by polarised lenses as the light that is usually reflected off them is diminished by a polarised lens.


    Spotting these oncoming patches is much more difficult, which is why motorcyclists tend to avoid suing polarised lenses.

    For regular car-motorists, this is less of a concern thanks to your four wheeled security.


    Shop polarised sunglasses.


    Blonde haired male wearing grey polarised sunglasses and black Tshirt in front of grey wall


    Polarised sunglasses test

    For the extra investment, you’ll probably want to test if your lenses are legit.

    Which is completely fair enough considering they look identical to normal ones.

    Now that you understand how polarisers work, you can test your polarised sunglasses in a few different way’s.

    1. Hold the sunglasses in front of a good source of unnatural light. Any sort of LCD screen will do the trick.
    Looking through one of the lenses, rotate the frame either up or down to see if the light fades or brightens through the lens. If the light does graduate in brightness, you’ve got yourself a pair of polarised sunglasses.


    2. Hold two pair of sunglasses so that the front of each frame is facing one another. Overlap two of the opposing lenses whilst looking through them.
    By rotating one of the frames at 90 degrees, you should be able to block all of the light between the two sunglasses frames.



    Grey sunglasses frame worn by black male model




    Blonde female wearing black polarised sunglasses frame and grey polo neck jumper




    Jamie Bartlett
    Jamie Bartlett

    Co-founder of Banton Frameworks.

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