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Do You Need Separate Sunglasses for Driving?


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The transition of sunglasses from utilitarian eye protection to fashion statement has created a situation in which people are encouraged to buy multiple pairs of sunglasses just to keep up. Lately, we have been hearing a lot about the idea of having a separate pair of sunglasses for driving. Is there anything to this, or is it just another way to sell more pairs of shades?

We not might be able to fully answer that question without a detailed analysis of sales data. But we can apply little common sense to get a good direction of which way to go. So first, let us discuss the concept of separate pairs of sunglasses.

The thinking is that it’s best to wear polarized sunglasses when driving. Polarized lenses cut down on glare that could be the result of wet pavement, driving along the water, or whatever. This is obviously good advice. Glare is a danger when driving. If polarized sunglasses can cut down on that glare, it would make sense to use them.

On the other hand, polarized lenses can interfere with your ability to read your smartphone or tablet. So, the idea is to have a pair of non-polarized sunglasses that you wear outside when not driving. You have one pair for driving and another pair for using your phone outdoors. Now let us explain why this doesn’t make sense.

The Phone Solution Is Easy

Proponents of having a separate pair of sunglasses that do not interfere with reading your phone say that taking off your sunglasses to answer a text or make a call unnecessarily exposes the eyes to damaging UV rays. Fair enough. There’s no point in debating the virtue of that argument because the solution to not being able to read your phone screen is actually pretty simple.

Olympic Eyewear, a Utah wholesaler of designer sunglasses, says that the reason people cannot see their screens while wearing sunglasses is a matter of polarization. Both the smartphone screen and the sunglasses are polarized in the same direction, thus turning the phone screen black to the naked eye. You don’t need to take off your sunglasses to read your phone, nor do you need a separate pair of sunglasses. Just rotate the phone 90 degrees. Problem solved.

Glare Isn’t Just a Driving Problem

Having a separate pair of polarized sunglasses for driving makes sense if you’re concerned about glare only when you drive. But glare is not just a driving problem. Do you frequently go to the beach? If so, you know that glare off the water can be just as blinding. In the minutes preceding both dawn and dusk, glare can be especially troublesome. Leave your polarized sunglasses in the car in favor of your non-polarized beach pair and you have a problem.

You know glare is a problem if you are a boater or a fisherman as well. If you follow the logic of having separate pairs of sunglasses, you’ll need a pair for the car, a pair for the boat, and a third pair for everything else. Where does it stop?

If the only objection to polarized sunglasses is the fact that they prevent people from reading their smartphones and, as such, increase UV exposure by encouraging people to take their sunglasses off when using their phones, then the answer seems pretty obvious. You don’t really need multiple pairs of sunglasses just to accommodate your smartphone.

If turning your phone 90 degrees is too much trouble, perhaps it’s better to leave the phone at home. Doing so would probably be good for all of us, sunglasses notwithstanding.