Whenever I look for sunglasses on the internet I see articles talking about the advantages of polarized sunglasses. It seems that most people think they are the only way to go. And, you will pay extra for polarization in quality sunglasses.
As a pilot, I wear non-polarized aviator sunglasses, and for good reason. Cockpit instrumentation in today’s aircraft is presented on liquid crystal displays (LCDs), providing the pilot with the information he needs to safely operate the aircraft.
The problem is that polarized sunglasses, or polarized lens, distort the images presented on these LCDs making it difficult, if not impossible, to see the information we need. Further, sunlight glinting off the aluminum skin of other aircraft in our vicinity helps us to quickly find and identify that traffic, so we do not want that glare eliminated by the lenses in our glasses and sunglasses!
Most pilots also love fast, cool cars. For me, a red Corvette does the job, and here again, non-polarized lenses in my glasses and sunglasses are important. Why? Because the Corvette has a heads-up display (HUD), just like the HUDs in some of the aircraft we fly. Again, polarized lenses make it difficult to see the information presented to us through the HUD display.
We also love sports like skiing, and once again eliminating all glare makes it hard to see icy patches as we ski down the hill. In fact, even when we drive our cars without a HUD display non-polarized sunglasses are a better choice because it helps us locate and avoid other vehicles from the glare off the surface of the other vehicle.
But there is one place where polarized lenses seem to work best: when you are on the open water. For fishing polarized sunglasses work extremely well, allowing you to see below the surface of the water which allows you to see obstructions and fish. But other than that I don’t use polarized sunglasses at all.
Sunglasses serve a more important function however, the ability of the sunglasses to block “blue light”, the most harmful ultraviolet light in the visual range. A good pair of aviator sunglasses with grey lens tint does an excellent job of blocking ultraviolet rays including UVA, UVB and UVC rays.
In the final analysis, the advantage of the grey-tinted non-polarized sunglasses is that they allow you to see your environment clearly even where bright sunlight and harmful UV radiation are present. Polarized lenses, on the other hand, create more problems than they solve.
The War Is Over! Non-Polarized Sunglasses Outperform Polarized Sunglasses!
As an ATP pilot with an MBA in business, the author writes a daily blog about aviation called “All Things Aviation.” In order to serve his community the author reviews pilot supplies for pilots.
Protecting a pilot’s most important sensory asset, their eyes are of special interest and the author provides a great resource for the best aviator sunglasses for pilots.