According to Twitter, today is #NationalSunglassesDay. Which is why I thought I'd take a moment to make an important public service announcement:
I only wear polarized lenses. For best results, you should, too.
Polarized glasses reduce glare by using long chains of molecules that can only vibrate in one direction.
1. When you're on or near the water, you can see SOOOOOOO much better with polarized glasses.
So much better, in fact, that when I was a lifeguard in high school, I was required to wear polarized glasses.
Because of the polarization, a lot of the glare on the water is cut, and you can actually see under the surface. That's how you know if your children are drowning. It's how you know if there are fish or crayfish you can catch. It's how you enjoy the ecosystem with more depth and clarity.
That's why outdoor enthusiasts and fishermen love polarized glasses. (In fact, one of my favorite brands is Flying Fisherman, which are both polarized and super scratch-resistant. Sadly, they don't make the style I liked anymore -- I prefer oversized round sunglasses, because they protect my eye skin more and let less light in through the top and sides.)
Without polarized lenses, the water’s surface simply reflects everything around it. This obscures view into the water almost completely. Polarized lenses block this reflection and enable the wearer to see the contents of the water instead of the sky.
I'm almost always the first person to spot dolphins and dugongs, because I always wear my polarized lenses.
Dugong Watch in Coron, the Philippines.
Even when I'm not on a beach or boat, I often find I can see better without glare. For example, when I was in Yellowstone, there were springs everywhere, making the rocks wet and glare-y. Instead of squinting at all the brightness, I was able to appreciate the amazing park for all it had to offer.
2. Polarized glasses make you a better driver.
Once upon a time, I was driving behind my boyfriend's car. He spotted me in his rearview mirror, and we began having some majorly romantic looking.
I thought the waving and eye contact would be even more romantic if I took off my sunglasses, so that we could look directly into each other's eyes, instead of me looking into his eyes and him looking into my glasses.
So I pushed my glasses up onto my forehead...
And my boyfriend disappeared!
Suddenly, all I could see was glare where his face had been.
I know that sunglasses salespeople often use polarization as an upsell... But, honestly, it's probably worth it. Some studies have found that glare causes up to 3,000 accidents per year. Sunglasses Warehouse even put up this (slightly bizarre) infographic:
Moreover, driving is a fun and beautiful experience. Don't you want to be able to take in all the scenery? But without polarized glasses, objects in the distance appear hazy and nearby vehicles reflect light in a way that is nearly blinding. Polarized glasses remove the effects of glare by blocking reflections, improving eye comfort and allowing you to enjoy the view without squinting (which causes wrinkles).
3. Polarized glasses reduce squinting (and therefore, wrinkles and aging) and eye strain.
Squinting to see stresses the eyes and can cause redness, irritation, fatigue, and headaches. Glasses that cut the glare will give you more physical comfort and fewer signs of premature aging.
As I mentioned before, this is also why I prefer round, oversized sunglasses like these Merry's Women's Driving Sunglasses UV400, $12.91. Not only are they polarized, but they don't let any light come in through the top, bottom, or sides. They give extra sun protection to your delicate under-eye skin. And, like, you should obviously be wearing sunscreen on your face every day -- but a little extra protection never hurt anyone.
My current backup pair MOTINE Oversized Women's Polarized Fashion Sunglasses UV400, $9.88.
They're cheap, so it doesn't matter terribly if I scratch or lose them. And I usually order 2-4 pairs at a time, because sun protection is important. If you don't want eye damage, skin damage, or cancer, it's wise to have a pair of sunglasses in every bag you carry.
THAT SAID. It's better for the environment and your wallet if you try not to scratch and lose them. The glasses are never going to be as perfect, clean, and scratch-less as the first time you wear them -- but if you keep them in the little bag they come in when you're not wearing them, you can extend their life significantly.
ALSO, if they get sand on them, don't wipe the sand off. Try to blow or rinse it off.
And make sure to clean them regularly, either with the carrying case or using sunglass cleaning spray.
Because you deserve to see the world in full color.
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