Many opticals would tell you there really isn’t a decision or even a need to discuss this. Polarized is simply the best lens and everyone should be wearing polarized sun lenses. However the statement “Polarized is the Best lens” is like saying one sized hat fits everyone I can attest to that being untrue. So instead of derailing into a rant of why one is better than the other let’s see what each sun lens offers that can make it the best sun lens for your you.
First, let’s look at the often overlooked option of tinted sun lenses. With the advent of polarized becoming a more affordable option than it was 20 or more years ago, tint has slowly taken a back seat to Polarized. Many feel that tinted lenses do not offer any redeemable qualities for sun protection. As far as “protection” goes the main protection we are going for is UV protection for long-term eye health. Any lens from clear to the darkest of tints can be treated for UV protection. So let’s kill that debate. The other form of protection is “Blinding Glare” albeit tint does not control glare as well as polarized, especially on the water so tint does lose that debate. However, the advantages of the many varieties of tint are expounded upon in this helpful article from one of my favorite tint creation companies Brain Power Industries (BPI), http://colorlenses.com. Tints control light and the specific wavelengths, so a specialized color can be very helpful in a variety of applications from certain vision disorders to your specific needs.
I would like to offer a fun story that happened to me not too long ago. A mature woman came to my office one day and was selecting new eyewear, during our conversation we also discussed new sunglasses for the upcoming summer season at her lake home. Her first response was “NO I don’t want new sunglasses the last pair I bought are useless to me. I can’t back up my vehicle with them on and I just don’t want to waste any more money on them”. You can imagine my surprise to her comment of “I can’t back up my vehicle”. The first thing I did was ask her some questions about the type of vehicle she has and what the problem was along with some other questions. In so doing I uncovered that she had spinal surgery a year or so ago and had purchased a new vehicle shortly thereafter. The surgery was to fuse her vertebrae to help with pain but greatly limited her ability to rotate her neck. So backing up her vehicle, a rather large SUV, was only possible using the backup monitor which while using her current sunglasses, a polarized lens, the monitor was blacked out. So I went out to her vehicle and showed her what polarized lenses did to the backup monitor versus tinted lenses. I also explained the mild disadvantages of tinted vs polarized lenses on the water. Her response was surprising, “OK let’s do both!! I love that I will now be able back up my vehicle while wearing my cool shades. I do enjoy looking at the water with my polarized lenses on so I don’t want to give that up. Thank you for taking the time to show me the reason for my problem and the advantages of both type of sun lens.”
On a technical side as was mentioned polarized lenses do have the advantage of controlling the glare that many deal with while behind the wheel. That makes polarized the best lens for driving. The other advantage is that of the way polarized is applied to a lens unlike tint polarized is a laminate and the color is less likely to fade. Where as tint is susceptible to color fade over time. Polarized is the lens of choice for some professionals such as Fisherman. However I recommend the new BlueTech Outdoor lens so you can see your LED screens and depth gauges more clearly. Polarized sun lens is also the lens of choice for those who enjoy water activities such as recreational boating and beach activities. With its many advantages polarized can be dangerous for some vocations such as Aviation. As in todays vehicles and LED screens, aviation gauges and screens as well as windshields in the cockpit will be blacked out or distorted under the use of polarized lenses. Golfers can see the roll of the greens better with tinted lenses than through a polarized lens and the many specific golf lenses on the market today will use tint to enhance the colors so the ball stands out against the green and the backdrop of the sky. Skiers can also be hindered by polarized lenses. The glare that is eliminated by polarized lenses is what a skier uses to see dangerous ice patches.
Along with the simple advantages of tint that I just discussed there are the many color options and tinting styles that polarized just doesn’t have. I often discuss with my clients the intended use of their sunglasses. For many its the obvious use of driving. Yet for many others it’s all about the fashion of sun lenses. Many sunglass manufacturers ship there cool frames with tinted lenses as opposed to polarized. Is it just because they are too cheap to offer polarized? For some, maybe, but for the majority of sunglasses manufacturers its all about the fashion of a colored gradient tint or a multi colored fun style. Unique colors just can not be done in polarized lenses. Yes there are some cool colors in polarized lenses but not in gradients and other multicolored fashion styles.
As far as fashion goes don’t forget the fun and fashionable mirrored lens treatment. Mirror options come in a plethora of colors and can be applied to either tinted or polarized lenses. So for that fashion focused client who you also feel will benefit the most from a polarized lens add a cool mirror and up their fashion game.
One last option I suggest for all sun lenses, tinted or polarized and especially if you add a mirror coating is a back side anti reflective coating. My lab will add a hydrophobic front layer to help with water spots for you water enthusiasts as well as help keep your sun lenses clean and protected from the elements. With an added multilayer coating my labs add a warranty for added value and protect your investment.
To make a long story short, is there one sun lens for everyone? Again to refer back to my earlier comment, is there one hat that can fit everyone? I think the answer is obvious, that being a simple NO. Tints OR polarized or maybe even both could be the best option for you.
Stop into EyeCrave Optics to let me show you the difference.