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WHAT ARE POLARISED SUNGLASSES?

Waterhaul polarised sunglasses with reflective blue tinted lenses on a dark grey rock surrounded by teal fishing nets and a cork sunglasses case.

You will have heard of the term ‘polarised’ used before when we talk about our polarised sunglasses but what does it actually mean?

Introduction to polarised sunglasses

Polarised sunglasses are a game-changer for anyone who spends time outdoors. These sunglasses are not just a style statement; they offer practical benefits like reducing glare from reflected light and providing superior UV protection. In this article, we will dive deep into what polarised sunglasses are, how they work, and why they are essential for protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays. By understanding polarised lenses, you'll see why they are a must-have for outdoor enthusiasts.

what is Polarised light?

Unpolarised light from the sun travels in vertical waves of multiple different directions. However, when it bounces off of reflective surfaces like the ocean, snow or shiny cars, this light becomes polarised. This means it reflects back in harsh, uniform, horizontal lines known as glare.

Polarised sunglasses lenses are designed to be able to filter out this horizontal light, therefore reducing the amount of glare that reaches your eyes. Cheaper pairs of polarised sunglasses generally use a thin polarising film on the lenses that will wear off over time..  The normal amount of time is 2-3 years for these poor quality lenses to have the film wear off.  Unfortunately a lot of expensive brands also hide the fact they use plastic lenses.  Have you often found yourself buying pairs of sunglasses or replacing the lenses every 2-3 years?  This is not the case with Waterhaul sunglasses as all our sunglasses and eyewear comes with mineral glass lenses as standard.  Waterhaul's mineral glass lenses use a specialised polarisation filter sandwiched between two layers of glass, offering far greater protection that will last much longer.  As there is no film this does not deteriorate after 2-3 years.  

what are polarised sunglasses?

Polarised sunglasses are a type of eyewear specifically designed to reduce glare from reflected light. Unlike regular sunglasses, which only darken your view, polarised lenses filter out the intense horizontal light waves that cause glare. This makes them ideal for outdoor activities where reflected light can be a significant issue, such as boating, fishing, skiing, or driving.

When you wear polarised sunglasses, you’ll notice an immediate difference. Colours appear more vibrant, and contrasts are sharper, making it easier to see details in your surroundings. This is particularly beneficial when you're near water or snow, where glare from the sun can be blinding. With polarised lenses, you can see beneath the water's surface more clearly or navigate snowy slopes with better visibility.

In addition to reducing glare, polarised sunglasses also offer excellent UV protection. Harmful UV rays from the sun can cause long-term damage to your eyes, leading to conditions such as cataracts and macular degeneration. By wearing polarised sunglasses, you shield your eyes from these harmful UV rays, ensuring better eye health over time.

How do polarised sunglasses work?

The magic of polarised lenses lies in their filter or special chemical coating.  The filter is either inserted inbetween glass lenses or as a chemical  coating applied to the lenses in a vertical pattern, which blocks horizontally polarised light while allowing vertical light waves to pass through. This selective filtering process significantly reduces glare, providing you with a clearer and more comfortable view.

At Waterhaul, we believe in combining functionality with sustainability. Our polarised lenses are not only designed to provide superior visual clarity and UV protection but also to support environmental conservation. Made from recycled materials, our sunglasses help reduce ocean plastic pollution, making your choice of eyewear an eco-friendly one. So, whether you're hitting the beach, going for a hike, or just driving on a sunny day, wearing polarised sunglasses can enhance your visual experience while protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays and glare from reflected light. Choose Waterhaul's polarised sunglasses for a clearer view and a cleaner planet.

Tidal pool with brown rocks covered in limpets and mussels, with cloudy sky reflected in water.

Non-polarised

Tidal pool with brown rocks covered in limpets and mussels.

Polarised

What is the difference between polarised and non polarised sunglasses?

Understanding the differences between polarised and non-polarised sunglasses is crucial for selecting the right pair to suit your needs. Both types offer protection from UV light, but their functionality and benefits vary significantly.

Polarised Sunglasses:

Polarised sunglasses feature lenses with a special coating designed to reduce glare from reflected light. This glare typically comes from horizontal surfaces such as water, snow, or roads. The polarised lenses contain a filter that blocks horizontally polarised light, which causes glare, allowing only vertically oriented light to pass through. This results in clearer vision and significantly less strain on the eyes.

The benefits of polarised lenses extend beyond just glare reduction. By wearing polarised sunglasses, you can experience enhanced colour contrast and clarity. This makes colours appear more vivid and details sharper. For instance, on a bright sunny day at the beach, polarised lenses can help you see the textures of the sand and the nuances in the waves much more clearly. Similarly, while driving, these lenses reduce the harsh reflections from the road and other vehicles, improving safety and comfort.

Additionally, polarised sunglasses provide excellent UV protection, safeguarding your eyes from harmful UV rays. These rays can cause serious eye conditions like cataracts and macular degeneration over time. By blocking 100% of UV light, polarised lenses help maintain long-term eye health.

Non-Polarised Sunglasses:

Non-polarised sunglasses are essentially tinted lenses that block some portion of visible light from entering your eyes. This reduces overall brightness and cuts down on glare to some extent. However, non-polarised lenses do not discriminate between different types of light waves. They simply reduce the intensity of all light, providing basic protection and reducing brightness, but not addressing the specific issue of horizontally polarised light.

For everyday activities where glare is not a significant issue, non-polarised sunglasses can be sufficient. They provide protection from UV light and reduce eye strain caused by bright sunlight. However, in situations with intense reflected light, such as water sports, skiing, or driving on sunny days, non-polarised sunglasses might not offer the same level of comfort and clarity as polarised ones.

Which Should You Choose?

Choosing between polarised and non-polarised sunglasses depends largely on your lifestyle and the environments you frequent. If you often find yourself in situations with high glare, such as near water, snow, or on the road, polarised sunglasses are likely the better choice. They not only reduce glare but also enhance visual clarity and provide full UV protection, making your outdoor experiences more comfortable and enjoyable.

What different type of polarised sunglasses are there?

There are several types of polarised sunglasses available, each designed to suit specific needs and preferences. Here’s a breakdown of the most common types of polarised lenses and their unique benefits:

Plastic Polarised Lenses: Plastic polarised lenses are the most common option. Even in some large sunglasses brands which should know better.  These lenses are often used because they are cheap or easier to create prescriptions from. Made from materials such as polycarbonate or CR-39, these lenses are lightweight and impact-resistant. They offer average glare reduction and may have some UV protection.  Plastic lenses are the most common lenses used in prescription sunglasses, although this is something Waterhaul are campaigning to change. 

Glass Polarised Lenses: For those seeking superior optical clarity, glass polarised lenses are a premium choice. Although they are more expensive than plastic lenses, they provide exceptional visual clarity and scratch resistance. The trade-off is that they are heavier and more fragile, but they offer a crisper, clearer view that’s hard to beat. Additionally, glass lenses provide better glare reduction, enhancing visual comfort and reducing eye strain in bright environments. Their chemical resistance and minimal distortion offer a true-to-life visual experience. At Waterhaul, we combine these high-performance features with our commitment to sustainability by using eco-friendly materials. Our glass polarised lenses not only deliver optimal performance but also support environmental conservation, making them the perfect choice for eco-conscious customers seeking top-quality eyewear. Our Kynance navy blue sunglasses are one of the most popular unisex sunglasses which feature mineral glass polarised lenses.

Photochromic Polarised Lenses: Photochromic polarised lenses automatically adjust their tint based on the intensity of UV radiation. They darken in bright sunlight and lighten in lower light conditions, providing consistent glare protection throughout the day. This adaptability makes them perfect for people who move between different lighting environments frequently.

Mirrored Polarised Lenses: Mirrored polarised lenses feature a reflective mirror coating on the outer surface, which helps reduce glare and eye strain by reflecting a portion of the light before it reaches the lens. This added layer of protection enhances visual comfort, especially in extremely bright conditions.  The best example of a set of mirrored lenses is in Waterhaul's Pentire blue mirror sunglasses. Mirrored polarised lenses are generally more expensive due to the advanced technology and materials involved in their production. They feature a reflective coating that enhances glare reduction, providing superior visual clarity and comfort in bright conditions. This coating process requires sophisticated technology and high-quality materials, increasing the overall cost. Additionally, mirrored lenses offer a stylish, reflective appearance that appeals to many sunglasses wearers, contributing to their higher price. The complex manufacturing process, which ensures perfect alignment of the polarised film with the mirrored coating, also adds to the expense.

Gradient Polarised Lenses: These lenses have a tint that is darker at the top and gradually becomes lighter towards the bottom. This design helps reduce glare from overhead sources while still allowing enough light through the bottom portion for activities like reading or viewing instrumentation. They are ideal for driving and other activities where you need a balance of light reduction and clarity.

Wrap-Around Polarised Lenses: Wrap-around polarised lenses are curved to wrap around the face, providing better peripheral vision and protection from side glare. They are often preferred for sports and outdoor activities because they offer enhanced coverage and stay securely in place during movement.  The Waterhaul Zennor sunglasses are the best wrap around sunglasses in our range and can be combined with one of our adjustable sunglasses straps to ensure they never leave their position.  

Prescription Polarised Lenses: For those who require vision correction, polarised lenses can be incorporated into prescription eyeglasses or sunglasses. This allows you to enjoy the benefits of glare protection and UV safety while also achieving clear vision tailored to your prescription.

Additionally, polarised lenses come in various tint colours, such as grey, brown, or green, to suit personal preferences or specific activities. The choice of lens type and tint often depends on the intended use, personal style, and budget. At Waterhaul, we offer a range of polarised sunglasses designed to meet diverse needs, all crafted from recycled materials to support environmental conservation.

What are the benefits of polarised sunglasses?

Alongside reducing glare from shiny surfaces like snow or cars, polarised lenses can also improve the clarity of what you are seeing, which is particularly evident around water. The polarisation eliminates the light reflected on the water’s surface. Not only does this improve eye comfort, but polarised sunglasses lenses also allow you to see through the surface of the water. This has some particularly incredible effects when combined with the coastline or other aquatic areas! This makes polarised sunglasses ideal for water based activities like sailing and fishing. 

Polarised sunglasses have a special filter that blocks the intense, horizontally polarised light. Here’s how they help:

Reduce Glare: By blocking the horizontally polarised light, polarised sunglasses significantly reduce glare from reflective surfaces, making it easier to see clearly and comfortably.

Enhance Visual Comfort: With reduced glare, your eyes experience less strain and discomfort, allowing for more comfortable vision over extended periods, especially in bright conditions.

Improve Clarity and Contrast: Polarised lenses enhance visual clarity and contrast, making colours appear more vibrant and details more distinct. This is particularly beneficial for activities like driving, fishing, and skiing, where clear vision is crucial. (Note - Sunglasses should not be worn whilst driving, however Waterhaul also has our frames available to be used as normal glasses, and you can select your lens requirements so they are perfect for you.  Our most popular glasses frame style are our Fitzroy navy glasses frame.)

Increase Safety: By improving visibility and reducing glare, polarised sunglasses help you see potential hazards more clearly, enhancing safety in various activities and adventures.

What are the benefits of polarised sunglasses for outdoor enthusiasts?

Polarised sunglasses offer significant benefits for outdoor enthusiasts and sportspeople due to their ability to reduce glare and improve visual clarity in bright outdoor conditions. Here’s how polarised lenses can positively impact various activities:

Water Sports (Fishing, Boating, Kayaking): Polarised lenses are a game-changer for water activities. By cutting through the glare reflected off the water's surface, they allow you to see beneath the surface more clearly. This is especially useful for fishing, where spotting fish and underwater structures is crucial.

Snow Sports (Skiing, Snowboarding): The intense glare from snow can be both uncomfortable and dangerous. Polarised lenses effectively reduce this glare, improving visibility and making it easier to distinguish terrain features and obstacles, enhancing both safety and performance.

Driving: Polarised lenses significantly reduce glare from reflective surfaces such as roads, water, and other vehicles. This enhances safety and reduces eye strain during long drives or in bright conditions, making your journey more comfortable and secure.

Hiking: Hikers encounter various lighting conditions on the trail, including bright sunlight and reflections from water or rocks. Polarised sunglasses can help hikers navigate these conditions more comfortably by reducing glare and enhancing contrast. This improves visibility of trail features and potential hazards, enhancing safety and enjoyment on the hike.

Cricket: Cricket players often spend long hours in the sun, where glare from the pitch or surrounding surfaces can be distracting. Polarised sunglasses can reduce this glare, allowing players to maintain focus on the game. Enhanced visual clarity can help batsmen track the ball more effectively, leading to better performance on the field.

Beach Volleyball: Beach volleyball players face bright sunlight and glare from sand and water during matches. Polarised sunglasses can improve visibility on the court by reducing glare and enhancing contrast. This allows players to see the ball more clearly and react quickly to plays, improving their overall game performance.

Cycling and Running: Outdoor athletes, including cyclists and runners, benefit greatly from polarised lenses. By reducing squinting and eye fatigue caused by glare, especially when the sun is low on the horizon, these lenses help maintain focus and comfort during intense activities.

Golf: For golfers, polarised sunglasses help in reading the contours of the green and spotting the ball more easily. They reduce glare from water hazards and reflective surfaces, allowing for a better overall game experience.

Baseball and Other Field Sports: Players can track the ball more effectively and see details on the field with polarised lenses. These lenses cut through the glare from stadium lights or bright sunlight, improving performance and comfort.

However, it’s important to note that some sports or activities may require specific lens tints or colour enhancements, which may not always be compatible with polarised lenses. Additionally, polarised lenses can sometimes distort the visibility of certain digital displays or instrumentation panels, which could be a concern in some sports or activities.

Overall, for most outdoor sports and activities where glare reduction and enhanced visual clarity are essential, polarised sunglasses provide a significant advantage over non-polarised lenses. At Waterhaul, we offer polarised sunglasses crafted from recycled materials, combining top-tier performance with a commitment to reducing ocean plastic pollution. Embrace clearer vision and better protection with our eco-friendly polarised lenses.

Silhouetted hands holding up Waterhaul sunglasses to the sun as it sets over the ocean

DO POLARISED SUNGLASSES OFFER UV PROTECTION?

It is worth noting that polarised sunglasses on their own will not protect your eyes against harmful ultraviolet rays, which is the most important thing to look out for when it comes to choosing a pair of sunglasses.

Ultraviolet, or UV, is a type of radiation that comes in waves from the Sun's nuclear reactions, that travel to Earth as UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays damage the collagen and elastin in your skin, causing your skin to age and wrinkle early, while UVB rays are the ones responsible for burning your skin, which can lead to other diseases like skin cancer.  UVA Ages - UVB Burns!

But your skin isn't all that's at risk from UV rays! Prolonged exposure to UV rays can permanently damage your eyes, and make them more likely to get cataracts; a gradual clouding of the eye lens which leads to blurry vision, or even a gradual loss of vision in the centre of your eye (macular degeneration), which is why it is so important that you ensure your sunglasses have UV protection. 


When selecting a new pair of sunglasses (even if you don't buy a pair of Waterhaul sunglasses!), we always recommend checking that the sunglasses have UVA/UVB protection, as well as what level of protection they offer. UVA/UVB 400 is the best option for this, as they offer nearly 100% protection against UV light rays, which is why every pair of Waterhaul Sunglasses offers UVA/UVB 400 protection. This is the highest quality UV available.  

When should i wear polarised sunglasses?

To summarise; Polarised sunglasses are best worn in situations with intense glare, such as outdoor activities like fishing, skiing, and boating, where they reduce reflections from water and snow, improving visibility. They are also beneficial for driving, as they minimize glare from the road and other vehicles, enhancing safety and reducing eye strain. Additionally, polarised lenses enhance visual clarity during activities like running, cycling, and golfing, where glare from the sun and reflective surfaces can impede performance. Overall, polarised sunglasses provide comfort and protection in bright outdoor conditions, making them a valuable accessory for anyone seeking clearer vision and reduced eye fatigue.

When should i not wear polarised sunglasses?

While polarised sunglasses offer many benefits to the wearer, particularly when in snowy environments, driving or spending time by the sea, there are some situations where they’re not suitable. Due to the way they block polarised light, using polarised lenses whilst looking at screens, such as a laptop or mobile phone can result in seeing a dimmed or sometimes completely black screen.  When looking at a phone screen or a computer screen, we would recommend using a pair of blue light blocker glasses, to protect your eyes from the ble light that is emitted from these devices.

For this reason, we also have non-polarised lens options for our Fitzroy, Kynance, Harlyn Aqua, Harlyn Slate and Harlyn Navy sunglasses styles; giving you more options to suit your lifestyle. 

We also are asked frequently if it is possible to have polarised sunglasses with a prescription.  The answer is a resounding yes.  Simply having a prescription does not stop you from having a pair of polarised prescription sunglasses .  You can simply select your desired choice for polarised lenses, and Waterhaul will make your dreams come true.  

Every pair of Waterhaul sunglasses offers full UVA/UVB 400 protection; the highest level of protection.

TRY OUR POLARISED, UV400 PROTECTED SUNGLASSES TODAY!

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