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My Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades.

Published April 25th, 2016 by Bernardo

Ever wonder why so many boaters, fisherman, kayakers, and standup paddle boarders prefer polarized sunglasses? Well wonder no more. Here are the glaring facts regarding today’s polarized lenses. 


Polarized sunglasses have polarized lens filters where the transmission axis is oriented vertically to block the light reflected by the water surface. If the wearer moves his head up or down, the line joining the temples remains horizontal and the sunglasses continue to block the glare. Maximum polarization is obtained when the sun is at about 37 degrees from the horizon. If the sun is very low or very high the sunglasses will be of little help in filtering the glare in calm seas. In fact, polarized filters limit the glare from calm waters for a sun altitude between 30 and 60 degrees.


Light consists of two waves, one propagated in the horizontal plane and one in the vertical plane. When light bounces off a flat surface, such as water, the horizontal component is seen as glare. Polarized lenses are made using a special optical filter which absorbs the horizontal component of light and transmits only the vertical component. 


Polarized sunglasses first became available in 1936, when Edwin H. Land began experimenting with making lenses with his patented Polaroid filter. In conjunction with Land, the US military commissioned the design of anti-glare aviator style sunglasses during WWII. Fliers were issued the glasses at no charge, and the public was able to purchase the model that banned the sun's rays, or Ray-Ban aviator sunglasses. 


But it wasn’t until the 1960’s that polarized sunglasses gained mass popularity when a clever advertising campaign, by the comb and glass firm of Foster Grant, employed well-known fashion designers and Hollywood stars to propel the sunglass craze with their brand-name lines.


Today, polarized sunglasses are a must-have accessory for the best dressed waterman, or water woman. Fashion meets functionality.

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