When do I Need Polarized Safety Glasses?

Written on Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Polarized safety glasses help to prevent eye fatigue and reduce glare. This increases the ability to see, and increases overall safety in the work environment. Any jobs outdoors will usually require polarized safety glasses. When light shines off a surface, it becomes polarized. All light planes move in one plane. Normally, light moves on many planes until it hits a reflective surface. When you wear polarized safety glasses, only one plan of light passes through the lens reducing reflection.

This is what eliminates glare and eye fatigue. Vision is vital in any work environment to maintain safety. Polarized glasses are very common in construction and outdoor jobs where the sun is bright and there are many surfaces. Light becomes polarized off of surfaces into different components. There is more of a horizontal component that is reflected than a vertical component. This is what makes reflective light polarized.

In order to eliminate glare, polarized safety glasses need to be vertically polarized. If glasses were polarized vertically and horizontally, no light would be transmitted. Normal sunglasses only decrease light intensity using a uniform percentage. Polarized glasses eliminate reflection off of various surfaces. Polarization is maximized when the sun is approximately 37 degrees from the horizon. If the sun is too low or too high, polarization is not as affective. These glasses will not help you if you are staring directly at a light source. They are not intended to block UV rays or infrared light. Sometimes people think polarized safety glasses will work for welding. This is not the case and can cause serious eye damage. There are safety glasses specifically made to protect from the infrared light that a welder deals with.

Polarization is a benefit when light comes at you between 30 and 60 degrees. Many outdoors workers experience reflections from the road, water, vehicles, and more. This is where polarized safety glasses increase visibility and safety. Workers who wear polarized glasses will have greater clarity, color definition, and reduced eye fatigue.

Rule of thumb is that if you are working outside in bright light, polarized safety glasses are best for your situation. Glare can really affect the ability to see when clarity is crucial for safety. This is especially true when it comes to highway work. Workers need to keep themselves safe, but also think about the drivers on the road. If vision is hindered even for a moment, disastrous results could occur.

If you work anywhere outdoors, polarized glasses aren’t going to hurt. As with any dark tinted glasses, they are not recommended in low levels of light, or in weather conditions that may further impede vision such as snow and rain.
Once people know how polarization occurs, they then realize why polarized safety glasses should be used instead of regular tinted glasses for the sun. It is not so much about brightness and it is increasing clarity by reducing glare. Glare is what impedes vision the most while leading to eye fatigue.

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