Polarized sunglasses originally were worn for comfort by blocking the bright glare of the sun but now they've become important as eye protection from the harmful effects of the sun's UV and UVB light.
My sunglasses better be in the boat when I leave the dock or I'm going back. Even with the best polarized sunglasses, I still get headaches after being on the water all day. The glare off the water is hard on the eyes and good sunglasses are a must. I, like most fishermen, need a good pair of polarized sunglasses to see past the surface glare and into the depths to spot fish, structure and spawning beds.
How They Work
A special type of absorbing lens filters out polarized light. Light actually consists of two waves, one propagated in the horizontal plane and one in the vertical plane. When light bounces off a flat surface, such as gelcoat, roadways, water or shiny metallic objects, the horizontal component is seen as glare. Polarized lenses are made using a special optical filter which absorbs the horizontal component of light and transmits only the vertical component. Lenses are matched and paired for proper alignment before their put into a frame. If the lenses are not matched and aligned properly, it will affect your vision and may cause headaches. As a result bright reflected light is eliminated and eye strain is reduced. However, polarized sunglasses alone do not block UV light, so they require additional coatings or coloring agents to provide complete eye protection.
It wasn't until I started doing a little research that I found my headache problem may be the lack of UV (ultraviolet light) protection. I learned that extended exposure to UV can cause headaches or even permanent damage to the lens, retina and cornea. It can also be responsible for cataracts and loss of night vision. Permanent damage occurs from the UV burning the surface of the cornea.
An important note about polarized lenses; the newer boats today are using LCD displays on almost all the dash gauges plus your GPS unit and depth finders. If you're not directly in front of your LCD display units, they will be difficult to see since LCD works on the same basic principle as polarized lenses making it difficult to read.
Handy Shopping Tip
When shopping for polarized sunglasses, try this test. Take two pair of sunglasses and hold them parallel so you can look through both of them at the same time. Now, lining up a lens from each pair at a 90° angle, you should see a total blackout. If you can still see through the lenses, they’re not polarized.
The Different Types of Lenses
Colorized plastic polycarbonate, found in most sunglasses, are optically accurate and do not distort shapes and lines. However glass is still used in the highest quality sunglasses. These lenses, like camera lenses, are made from distortion-free ground and polished optical glass. The borosilicate glass used in these lenses is scratch resistant and is made impact resistant by tempering it with various chemical treatments.
Another type of lens, the photochromatic lens, darkens outdoors and lightens indoors. In this way the lenses change color in response to UV exposure. However, the range of lenses' color change is not broad enough to be effective against most light frequencies, and although they are widely used in prescription sunglasses, photochromatic lenses are not universally accepted by optometrists.
Fisherman and boaters have their own special needs that must be addressed. Today polarized sunglass manufacturers like Costa del Mar Sunglasses make custom-designed sunglasses to meet the needs of fishermen and other outdoorsmen that are constantly exposed to the harmful effects of the sun.
As a guide, you spend several hours a day fighting the suns glare and reflection off of the water and the different surfaces of the boat. I took my best polarized sunglasses to an optometrist and had my prescription added. It's important for any serious angler to have the best eye protection to guard against the harmful effects of the sun.
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