What is Polarized Light?
You are probably most familiar with polarized light in terms of polarized sunglasses. These moderately high-end glasses filter out light and reduce glare, and are extremely popular with sport fishermen and other water-based professionals because they make it easier to see through and around water even when it is sunny. If you have a pair of polarized sunglasses, they probably seem to work almost like magic. In fact, however, they only allow polarized light to meet your eyes.
Polarized light is light that has been filtered to remove part of the light waves that comprise it. Light waves are both vertical and horizontal. Polarized light has only vertical or only horizontal waves.
Polarized light can be used for several purposes. It is easy to see by it, so it can be used to filter light for sunglasses and protect your eyes from harmful rays from the sun. It is also used in microscopes to make aspects of a variety of plants more visible and easier to study.
Once light has been polarized, it has only one form of wave in it instead of two. Polarized light is created using polarized lenses, which only allow one type of wave of light to pass through the lens. For example, most polarized sunglasses block the “horizontal” waves of light and allow the “vertical” ones to pass through. If you place two polarized lenses on top of each other and rotate them until the filters are perpendicular to each other, you will be able to block all light from passing through.
Polarized light can be very beneficial. Not only is it easier on your eyes than unfiltered light, but it can actually allow you to see through the glare on water. This enables someone wearing polarized lenses to view marine life or search for other items below the surface of the water without actually entering the water. Also, polarized light provides more “depth perception” when you are examining things under a microscope or even just a magnifying glass because different things absorb or reflect different amounts of polarized light.
Many people think that polarized light will make their eyes safer from the sun. While this is accurate, it does not mean that it is safe to look directly at the sun while wearing polarized sunglasses. You can still seriously harm your eyes even though the sun may not feel like it is burning your eyes as it would if you were wearing normal sunglasses or no protection at all.