Santa Cruz Syndicate MTB rider wearing the Julbo Meta

Polarized Lenses: Always Essential?

When looking for new sunglasses the topic of conversation inevitably turns to polarized lenses. Although the benefits of polarization are undeniable, reduction of glare from reflective surfaces and improved visual clarity. The question still remains, are polarized lenses necessary for all outdoor activities?

The benefits of polarized lenses are undeniable. By filtering light along a single axis, polarization reduces glare off bright and reflective surfaces, easing eye strain and increasing visual contrast and comfort. But are polarized lenses necessary for all outdoor activities?

Read on to learn about the benefits of polarized lenses, when they are essential and when they’re not entirely necessary.

How Do Polarized Lenses Work?

Polarization operates on the same principle as Venetian blinds, filtering light along a single axis. In sunglasses, the pattern of polarization filters light traveling along a horizontal axis, providing the most effective protection from surface glare off reflective planes like water, snow, and windshields. This helps ease eye strain during long days outside and increases visual contrast, comfort, and clarity. Julbo’s polarizing treatment comes in two forms: a thin chemical laminate that’s applied to the surface of the lens and a unique chemical laminate that’s sandwiched between two lens materials.

What Are The Benefits of Polarized Lenses?

The primary benefits of polarized lenses include superior protection against the sun (by only letting light enter the eye along one axis); enhanced protection from glare off flat or horizontal surfaces (specifically water and snow); increased visual clarity in mountain and water environments; and intensification of color and improved contrast and relief.

Do I Need Polarized Lenses?

Polarized lenses provide protection and visual clarity in various situations, making them appealing. But not every environment offers the kind of lighting or reflection that makes polarization necessary. Forested and other non-snowy terrain that’s not at altitude doesn’t often feature reflective surfaces. Therefore, while mountain biking or trail running in the woods, for example, polarization is not essential, which is why not all of the lenses in Julbo’s performance eyewear are polarized. If you spend the majority of your time on or around water, polarized lenses will offer protection against glare, preventing eye strain and improving your ability to see what’s beneath the surface.

Having maximum filtration of visible light in the mountains—where solar radiation increases with altitude and due to reflection off snowy surfaces—is essential. Exposure to harmful rays can lead to various issues, including snow blindness, exhaustion of the retina (Erythropsia), “White out” syndrome, and irreversible necrosis. This means polarized sunglasses are more than helpful in high mountains—they’re an essential safety tool.

Urban landscapes may not pose the same dangers as a mountain environment, but there still are plentiful reflective surfaces like windows and tarmac. As a result, reflective glare is everywhere and can adversely affect your vision. In these settings, polarized lenses can provide better visual comfort and clarity.

What Different Polarized Lenses Does Julbo Carry?

REACTIV Photochromic Lenses: These lenses adjust from light to dark depending on light levels, making them ideal for constantly changing conditions. They combine the advantages of mineral and polycarbonate lenses: optical quality, scratch resistance, strength and lightness. In addition, their NTS (Non-Temperature Sensitive) technology guarantees a constant photochromic range, whatever the temperature.

If you find yourself in rapidly changing light conditions or require lenses that highlight nuances in terrain, a REACTIV lens will provide the clearest possible vision.

Julbo carries two different photochromic polarized lenses: REACTIV 2-4 Polarized, which allows for 20-5% Visible Light Transmission (VLT) and is best for the brightest high-mountain settings, and REACTIV 2-3 Polarized, which allows for 32-9% VLT and is offers outstanding clarity for watersports.

Spectron Lenses: These lightweight and durable polycarbonate lenses are designed to offer powerful protection. They are equipped with an anti-reflective coating to improve visual comfort and filtration of visible light. Spectron lenses do not adjust to different light conditions but are more affordable than REACTIV lenses.

Julbo carries one polarized polycarbonate lens: Spectron 3 Polarized, which allows for 12% Visible Light Transmission and is best for bright conditions.