What are Polarized Safety Glasses and why do you need them?

They’re much more than cool glasses that make you look like a badass. Polarized lenses perform an important protective function that is essential to some key industrial processes.

Reflected sunlight can be a big problem for our eyes. Intense light can temporarily blind us and damage our vision in the long term. If your line of business involves working outside in the sun then wearing polarized lenses in your safety glasses is definitely something you should be seriously considering..

Generally, sunlight is not a problem for us in our everyday lives. The most UV protection our eyes usually need is provided by the normal tinted lenses of regular pair of sunglasses. But glare is different to normal sunlight and reducing glare is the main reason to wear polarized sunglasses.

What is glare?

When sunlight beams down to earth it hits uneven surfaces and diffuses into manageable intensities that our eyes can comfortably cope with. However, when sunlight hits a smooth surface like glass, the surface of water or other reflective surface it can send an intense, blinding beam directly into you eyes that will cause you to wince, look away and try to blink away the impairment to your sight. To be hit by glare is essentially like looking directly at the sun itself.

In your everyday life, to stop what you’re doing to recover from a sudden glare of reflected light might not be such a problem. On a worksite, however, where you might be operating heavy machinery, it could be a very dangerous situation indeed to suffer even a few seconds of sight loss.

Glare is not only a problem for sunny, hot environments. People working in snow-covered regions are particularly at risk as snow is a highly reflective substance and has a tendency to smooth out the irregular surfaces that would normally diffuse sunlight.

What are polarized safety glasses?

Most people know the term ‘polarized’ in relation to sunglasses. The most common use of polarized sunglasses is for driving where, as with operators of heavy machinery, a few seconds of sight loss could prove exceptionally dangerous. Polarized safety glasses use the same technique on the lenses but it is applied to glasses that are tested and rated to the highest safety standards for industry.

How is it done?

A chemical coating is applied to the lenses and the molecules of this chemical form a barrier pattern that filters out light travelling horizontally - such as the light that has just bounced off the mirror-like surface of standing water.

To properly understand the process from a scientific point of view, think of light in terms of waves. Sunlight that has hit non-reflective surfaces diffuses into vertical light waves of low intensity. The UV rays that have hit a reflective surface maintain a high intensity and travel as horizontal waves of UV light.

The polarized lens allows only the vertical light to pass through eliminating glare. The horizontal light is reflected away.

What activities require polarized safety glasses?

Water sports - any sport taking place on the water is going to require eye protection. Glare occurs most commonly from the surface of water. Remember, were talking about safety glasses, not just sunglasses, so protecting eyes from hazards such as salt water spray and impact is also very important.

Snow sports - any winter sport involving snow brings a risk of glare. The impact and scratch resistance are also very handy in these types of sports.

Cycling - Glare from standing pools of water, vehicles and other reflective surfaces present additional dangers to already vulnerable cyclists. Observation is a rider’s best defence on the road so eye protection is crucial. Wind, rain, sweat, road grit and harmful UV light are all hazards cyclists have to manage and polarized safety glasses protect against them all

Motoring - controlling the speed and direction of a vehicle on or off road is a big responsibility. It is not only the safety of yourself and the people onboard you are accountable for, you owe a duty of care to those around you too. Clear, unobstructed vision is crucial to your performance.

Outdoor industrial processes - operating on a work site presents perhaps the widest range of eye hazards. Everything from sharp objects to chemical powders, blunt force hazards to abrasive grit and of course UV damage and glare if working outside

Any drawbacks?

There are some factors to consider when deciding if polarized glasses are right for you:

● Darker outlook - as with all tinted lenses the brightness of your view is darkened. With polarized lenses this is darker again with less contrast of color.

● Reduced device usability - viewing the screens of some devices may prove difficult as the light from liquid crystal displays (LCDs) travel in a similar way to glare.

● Daytime only - the light reducing powers of the polarized lens are such that in reduced light conditions, such as at night, it can start to become counter productive to wear them

Advantages of safety glasses with polarized lenses

The advantages of using polarized lenses in safety eyewear outweigh the few drawbacks listed. In summary these are:

● Reduced glare - protection against dazzling uv light

● Improved safety - for those operating vehicles or heavy machinery and for those who are in the area. Keeping eyes focused is essential

● Maintain eye health - UV protection built in.

● Greater productivity - For staff that work outside in the sun, UV light and glare can have a fatigue effect on them through eye strain. Wearing polarized glasses reduces this risk.

● Functionality - all of the advantages of strong but lightweight protective eyewear, enhanced with the added protection of glare - no need to pick between the two.

Our recommendation: The Rebel ToolFreak have developed the The Rebel as a highly functional and stylish solution to eye protection for outdoor workers and competitors of outdoor sports. The design is fresh and energetic, the protection is rated to ANSI z87+ and the price is unbeatable for this level of protection.

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