Are Polarized Glasses Good For Cycling?

By: Alex Bristol

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Non-polarized sunglasses reduce the amount of light that comes through the lenses and offer protection against harmful U.V. rays, but they don’t reduce glare. Glare can be really annoying especially if you ride a lot on the road; it also impairs depth perception, distorts your view and colors, and can cause temporary blindness.

Polarized lenses, on the other hand, are specifically designed to reduce glare, but even though some cyclists find them awesome, they can be dangerous if worn in some conditions like cold winter, or fast downhills.

How do polarized lenses work?

When sunlight strikes flat surfaces, the light that is reflected by the surface tends to be polarized: the reflected beams travel in a uniform direction, usually horizontal (while sunlight normally scatters in all directionS). This is what creates the glare and reduces visibility.

Polarized lenses work by blocking the light (polarized light) that is reflected by the surface in the form of a glare. The result of this is the ability to see through the reflection and see the item as it truly is.

There are two types of polarized lenses: the .75mm and the 1.1mm. The .75 mm lenses work great for casual sports and everyday wear, when resistance to breakage isn’t a big concern. The thicker lenses, which are more expensive than the .75, provide enhanced glare reduction and higher resistance.

The cons of polarized lenses

Polarized sunglasses lenses improve comfort and visibility but they also have limits. For example, eliminating glare from paddles or icy surfaces, they can disguise those slippery surface you should be always able to spot while you’re riding. Polarized lenses also reduce the visibility of images produced by liquid crystal displays (LCDs) found on some digital screen. Depending on the type of screen technology it uses, you also may find it more difficult to see the screen of your phone with polarized sunglasses on.

So, are polarized glasses good for you?

With some additional knowledge about what polarized lenses are and what their limits are, it can be a little easier to tell if you would benefit from polarized lenses or not. Usually, they are good for sports like cycling. Most bikers enjoy the better visibility they can get from polarized lenses, while some road cyclists argue that they can disguise slippery surfaces, or alter depth perception when viewing potential hazards. Some other cyclists wear polarized sunglasses and, aware of their limits, pay more attention during their winter or rainy-day rides, or they decide to take them off in certain condition.

Now that you are aware of the benefits and risks of polarized lenses, only you will be able to decide if the pros outweigh the potential cons when it comes to deciding whether or not a pair of polarized bike sunglasses would be good for you.


1. Should you get polarized cycling lenses? – Post by Sport RX

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