The benefits of polarized sunglasses for driving

The benefits of polarized sunglasses for driving should be commented here on Glarminy. Driving is a common life activities for most of us and also perhaps the glariest of all (see Glare, worst driving comfort enemy: driver fatigue, eye strain causes and solutions). A light sensitive person will encounter problems with glare in all driving conditions except on an overcast day (if it is not too dark or too bright).

The benefits of polarized sunglasses in this post refer only to daytime driving. There is much debate on whether tinted glasses should be worn at night, and the experts’ consensus seems to be against them (see Help! Night Driving Glare Problems, Night driving Rx’s, and The Dangers of Night Driving Glasses. Unfortunately a polarized lens with 100% transmission does not exist.

The benefits of polarized sunglassesPolarized sunglasses contain a special filter that blocks intense reflected light. Thus they reduce glare and haze so your eyes are more comfortable and you can see better. Note that polarized sunglasses do not only make things look darker (as other tinted glasses would). If you are interested in more detail see the video How polarized sunglasses work, or read more about Polarized Sunglasses.

Daytime driving and glare

Before listing the benefits of polarized sunglasses let us take a look at the different sources of glare. A light sensitive person will be fatigued by the following glare situations in daytime driving:

  • glary road surface – unless the Sun is behind the car
  • the Sun’s reflections from other cars – unavoidable due to cars’ contours and glossy surface.
  • dashboard glare (some cars have particularly glary dashboards, or a shiny polish had been applied to the dashboard – it is best not to use dashboard polish)
  • driving with the Sun low above the horizon – driving into the Sun or with the sun to the driver’s side of the car such that one sees it out of the corner of the eye
  • driving in rain (wet road) – headlights and their reflections from the road surface
  • dashboard reflection on windshield – this is not properly a glare problem, however it may be very disturbing (some car models that have lighter surfaces on the dash (mostly for aesthetic purposes) are particularly strenuous for the eyes of the driver)
  • other? (Please let me know if I have missed anything!)

The benefits of polarized sunglasses:

  • reduction of road surface glare
  • reduction of glare reflecting from other cars
  • reduction of dashboard glare
  • reduction of headlights reflections from the road surface
  • complete elimination of dashboard reflection on windscreen.

UPDATE: See a list of best polarized sunglasses for driving here.

Driving glare problems not resolved with polarized sunglasses

There are some glare-related issues that polarized sunglasses don’t resolve satisfactorily if you have photophobia:

  • how to reduce night driving headlight glare – unfortunately clear polarized lens does not exist, but there is some hope for the future as scientists are working on new solutions
  • driving with the sun low above the horizon from the driver’s side (if your sunglasses do not wrap around your temples) – in this situation I usually block the sun with my hand, or if this type of conditions last longer, I fold a piece of paper (for example a shopping receipt) and hang it over the temple of my sunglasses – I look silly, but it works great
  • how to eliminate dashboard glare in those car models whose dashboards are particularly poorly designed  – I have recently (unintentionally) bought one of these and polarized sunglasses on their own are no longer enough – I plan to tell you more about my attempts to minimize dash glare in this case in my future posts.

Anything else? What has been your experience with polarized sunglasses? Would you add anything else?

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