What Is the Difference Between Polarized & UV Sunglasses?

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Polarized, UV or both?
Polarized, UV or both? (Image: sunglasses image by Bosko Martinovic from Fotolia.com)

According to Mayo Clinic ophthalmologist Dennis Robertson, M.D., it is important to protect your eyes from the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV exposure can damage your eyelids, cornea and conjunctiva. When choosing sunglasses, be critical of claims of UV protection and polarized lenses.

Polarized Lenses

According to Robertson and the American Optometric Association (AOA), polarized lenses are designed to reflect glare, but they do not provide UV protection unless treated with a special film.

Polarized Warning

While polarized sunglasses can benefit those who do a lot of driving or boating, the AOA warns that they should not be used for playing sports such as golf or flying an airplane due to how they affect "visual information."

UV Protection

Robertson advises you stay away from sunglasses that do not offer UV protection information. Choose shades that provide at least 99 percent UVB protection and 95 percent UVA protection.

Additional Protection

The AOA recommends wrap around lenses for additional UV protection. Also, consider polycarbonate lenses, which offer impact protection, for sports or potentially dangerous work.

Expert Insight

With no federal guidelines for UV protection in sunglasses as of 2009, the AOA notes that lens color and darkness has nothing to do with the level of UV protection offered. Price is also not a sound indication of quality.

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