When it comes to eyewear, we all want to look good, but also protect our eyes from the sun. The terminology on labels for sunglasses can be a little confusing. Also, talking with people about sunglasses, I realize that many feel they must have polarized sunglasses in order to effectively protect their eyes. Polarization does cut down on glare, but most importantly, look for sunglasses that offer full UV protection.

So here is a brief breakdown:

Polarization diagramPolarization is a benefit to those who are bothered by glare, usually reflected off the surface of water. Boat captains and fisherman who spend many hours a day on the water, need polarized sunglasses. Polarization effectively neutralizes harsh glare, providing comfort to the eyes. Sun glare is typically horizontally polarized, and polarized lenses are vertically polarized, thus neutralizing glare. Polarized sunglasses first became available in 1936, when Edwin H. Land began experimenting with making lenses with his patented Polaroid filter. For more interesting facts about polarization, check out polarization on Wikipedia.


The most widespread protection is against ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which can cause short-term and long-term eye problems such as photokeratitis,, cataracts, pterygium, and some forms of eye cancer. Medical experts recommend sunglasses that reflect or filter out 99-100 % of UVA and UVB light, with wavelengths up to 400 nm. Sunglasses which meet this requirement are often labeled as “UV400.”

And sunglasses don’t have to be expensive to provide adequate protection. There is no correlation between high prices and increased UV protection. A 1995 study reported that “Expensive brands and polarizing sunglasses do not guarantee optimal UVA protection.”[1] The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has also reported that “consumers cannot rely on price as an indicator of quality”.[2] One survey even found that a $6.95 pair of generic glasses offered slightly better protection than did expensive Salvatore Ferragamo shades.

Please check out Hawaiian Lenses Kona’s for an inexpensive style of polarized sunglasses with the benefit of a built in reading lens. Great for fishermen who need a little vision help to tie their fishing knots!

By the way, all of our Hawaiian Lenses sunglasses offer full UV400 protection.

1. Leow YH, Tham SN. “UV-protective sunglasses for UVA irradiation protection.” Int J Dermatol. 1995 Nov;34(11):808-10.
2. “Sunglasses and fashion spectacles—April 2003”. Accc.gov.au. Retrieved 2010-05-13.

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