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How to tell if sunglasses are polarized

Sunglasses have existed since time immemorial and they do more than just protect our eyes. It could very well be a fashion statement that gives your outfit that edgy look. It could even conceal signs of fatigue when you fail to get that needed beauty sleep. As our vision is of utmost importance, getting sunnies with polarized lenses are worth looking into. They minimize the amount of glare around you, which can help you see more comfortably when you’re outside or in bright environments. While some of us may have a pair ready, not all of us may know how to tell if sunglasses are polarized. Not to worry, we’re here to give you a quick rundown.

Three methods to check if your sunnies are polarized

Comparative test

Besides looking for a sticker that certifies your sunglasses are polarized, the simplest way to find out is by comparing your sunglasses with a pair that you know for sure is polarized. To do so, hold the polarized pair in front of you then place the pair you’re curious about in between you and two inches apart from the other at a 90-degree angle. It is important that the lenses don’t touch each other so as not to damage or scratch the lens coating.

If you can see the polarized pair behind the pair in question, then the answer is that they aren’t polarized. Inversely, if both pairs just seem to get dimmer, then you have two pairs of polarized sunnies. You’ll want to do this where there is direct light available because that will make it easier to make out the difference in shading.

Trying it on a reflective surface

To apply this method, you’ll have to put on your pair of sunglasses and find a surface that light bounces off of. This could be a mirror or any shiny flat surface like a windshield or glass tabletop. It could even be a shallow body of water like a river or lake when you’re out and about in broad daylight. You’ll know your sunglasses are in fact polarized when you can see past the glare or into the water below when you tilt your head to the side. Otherwise, you just have a tinted pair of sunglasses.

Examining it against an LCD display

Like most computer screens, be it a desktop monitor, laptop, tablet, or phone, polarized lenses utilize the same anti-glare technology. To decipher if your shades are polarized or not, you simply need to apply a dominantly white background at its brightest setting. If some parts of the screen darken or go black while tilting your head at around 60 degrees to the left or right, then that serves as proof of a genuine pair of polarized sunglasses.

Benefits of Polarized Sunglasses

Polarized sunglasses act like your eyes’ armor against the sun’s harmful UV rays. It is important to note that polarized lenses don’t always have UV protection as it is not one and the same. It is, however, common to find a polarized pair with UV protection.

In comparison to ordinary tinted sunnies, polarized pairs step up by giving you a better picture of your surroundings. Your perception of color hues and contrasts is improved even when you’re in a shaded area. Without glare permeating through the lenses, your eyes are more capable of adapting to all kinds of light conditions.

Wearing polarized sunglasses also promotes overall health and comfort. Squinting is actually a sign that your eyes are getting strained as it causes the muscles around your cheeks and nose fatigue. It could, in turn, lead to a splitting headache no one would want to endure.

The only drawback is that it would not be the ideal pair to wear when you’re in front of an LCD screen. And since one of the highlights of polarized lenses is to make colors appear more vivid, it could make it difficult to distinguish variations of white. Therefore, it may not be advisable to wear while skiing. But all else considered, a pair of polarized sunglasses can without a doubt enhance the clarity of your vision.

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Kaitlyn Gilles
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Please reach out to The Manual editorial staff with any questions or comments about Kaitlyn’s work.
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