Like all good questions the answer is, “It depends.” Before we get too into, let’s debunk a popular misconception: yes, you can still read your Garmin while wearing polarized cycling sunglasses
! Every cycling computer we have found over the last handful of years works great with polarized lenses. Polarized lenses reduce reflective glare – the kind of bright, harsh light that bounces off water, snow, cars, and the road. When light shines down from the sun it travels in a vertical wavelength. When the vertical wavelength hits a flat or shiny object, the light is reflected horizontally, further intensifying its brightness. Polarized lenses have a filter that block this horizontal light, thus dramatically reducing that harsh glare.
The obvious pro to polarized cycling lenses
is the glare reduction. However, contrast is the most important aspect of cycling glasses. Contrast enables you to quickly identify potholes or debris and move comfortably through patches of sun and shade. Because polarized lenses oftentimes come in darker tints, you may be comprising contrast enhancement by opting for the darker, polarized lens. On the other hand, if you opt for the lighter, contrast-enhancing lens, you forgo the brightness protection of polarization. Deciding if polarized cycling sunglasses lenses are right for you will depend on what type of riding you do, the conditions you ride in, and your personal preference.
Polarization is most beneficial in very sunny environments and for people with light-sensitive eyes. So, if you have light blue eyes and ride in Arizona, polarized cycling glasses may be the way to go. However, if you are a mountain biker in the Pacific Northwest and find yourself riding in overcast, shadowy conditions, lighter lenses that come in brown, rose copper, and yellow tints are your best bet for contrast enhancement.
Bottom line: If you’re looking for versatility, contrast lenses are your go-to. If you’re looking for ultimate brightness protection, nothing beats a good polarized lens. Still not sure about polarized cycling lenses? Contact one
of our Sports Opticians, who love talking all things bike and glasses. We also have more information on what to look for when buying cycling sunglasses