If you are a mountain biker and are browsing for a pair of sunglasses, is it quite natural to wonder, “is photochromic better than polarized?”
At least to some, the difference between the two may seem very vague, giving way to heightened confusion.
So, today I have decided to demystify the haziness surrounding the topic.
Significance of Photochromic Glasses In Mountain Biking?
Photochromic glasses make use of lenses that can adapt to different light situations.
Thereby they allow the wearer to see clearly, irrespective of the amount of light hitting the glasses or prevailing in the environment.
Technically, photochromic lenses absorb light profoundly when exposed to sunlight.
The lenses can be made of glass, or plastic material, on which the photochromic substance is applied for the effect.
So, if you are wondering how photochromic glass is made, here it is (you can skip this part if you aren’t a fan of Science):
Silver chloride/other silver halide present in microcrystalline form is applied to the lenses.
When exposed to the ultraviolet rays, tiny silver particles are formed, which are adept at absorbing light.
Benefits of Photochromic Lenses:
The most significant advantage of photochromic lenses is their ability to adapt to changes in the environment.
Whether it is indoor, outdoor, or in low or high brightness situations, photochromic lenses adapt well to the environment seamlessly.
In addition, photochromic lenses are preferred by many for their ability to resist UV rays from reaching the eyes.
Available for most prescriptions, photochromic glasses can be relied upon for comfort, as they are highly efficient in helping the wearer reduce eyestrain and glare.
Another important reason why mountain bikers choose photochromic glasses is that one does not have to keep juggling between sunglasses and clear glasses to adapt to environmental conditions while riding the bike.
Besides their application in mountain biking, they are also great for combatting computer vision syndrome.
In short, it is a highly versatile eye gear that helps protect your eyes from blue light exposure, UV rays.
With added polarization coating, it even helps to eliminate sunlight glares.
Disadvantages of Photochromic Lenses:
Like most things in this world, photochromic lenses also come with their share of limitations.
Firstly, they are not so compatible to use in cars since the windshield blocks the UV rays.
Well, photochromic lenses darken as a reaction to UV rays, and if those rays don’t hit your lenses very well, then the lenses don’t darken either.
Another significant drawback is its ineffectiveness during winter, as they typically take longer to react to UV rays during cold weather.
Finally, photochromic lenses without polarization coating may not effectively combat glares.
Significance of Polarized Glasses In Mountain Biking?
Polarized glasses are aimed at reducing the glare on surfaces, such as mountains, roads, snow, water, and the like.
But are glares bad? Sometimes they can be.
Glares can distort your view, and when you are riding a mountain bike, it is extremely important to have the best view possible for a safer and better riding experience.
Lenses become polarized when a coating of unique material is vertically applied to them.
The chemical thus reorganizes the horizontal light that reaches the lenses. The thicker the chemical coating, the more beneficial the glasses are.
That is where the difference lies between cheap polarized glasses and high-quality ones.
The cheaper ones may be beneficial but not as much as their high-quality counterparts, as the former typically would have a thin layer of coating than the latter.
The more delicate the layer, the more are they prone to aberrations and scratches as well.
However, they are a good solution when you are buying polarized sunglasses on a budget or looking for a short-term solution to your problem.
Benefits of Polarized Lenses:
Polarized sunglasses not only reduce glare but also helps in easing eyestrain that typically occurs when you are out in the sun for long hours.
In addition, some people are susceptible to headaches from light sensitivity, and polarized lenses may help tackle this by giving protection to the eyes from the sunlight.
Moreover, one can experience an enhanced clarity in vision, acuity, and contrast, which give ways for a better visual experience.
For example, for mountain bike riders, wearing polarized lenses would help them see what is ahead of them more clearly and quickly, enabling quicker reactions and, as a result, fewer crashes.
The best application of polarized sunglasses is when you are fishing, as they allow you to have better vision under the water surface.
This would help in moving in the water quickly and catching more fish.
Disadvantages of Polarized Lenses:
If you are out on your mountain bike at night, it is recommended not to use polarized sunglasses.
It may make your visual unclear and lead to a crash.
Additionally, polarized sunglasses may not be suitable while looking at LCD screens, typically found on cell phones, clocks, auto dashboards, and the like.
Similarly, piolets normally do not wear polarized sunglasses as it may obstruct their view of the instrument panel as well as the objects in the sky.
The Question Remains: Is Photochromic Better Than Polarized?
I would say, for a mountain biker, both photochromic and polarized glasses could be really helpful.
However, owning a pair of glasses that is either photochromic or polarized may not meet all your needs.
Hence, if you are to choose between the two, go for an advanced type of photochromic lens with polarization coating for the best results.
3 Best Choice Biking Glasses To Buy
I hope now you have your answer to is photochromic lenses better than polarized ones?
The next question that might naturally occur to you would be, where do you find the most suitable glasses for mountain biking.
Here I have compiled a list of best photochromic and polarized glasses that you can check out.
Made of shatterproof and flexible TR90 frame material, Bertoni sunglasses with both photochromic and polarization coatings come with the added benefit of anti-fog coating too.
Offering complete protection from the UV rays, these sunglasses are preferred for their easy-to-use features and adjustable nose pads as well.
Made of a TR90 frame, which weighs only 22 grams, the glass is lightweight and provides an accentuated peripheral vision.
The wraparound design offers protection from the harsh wind while riding your mountain bike at full speed.
The photochromic sunglasses with polarized lenses are adept at changing from category 2 filter- light smoke to category 3 filter- grey.
In addition, the glasses offer complete protection from horizontal rays.
The glasses are designed to suit any face, irrespective of the shape, and have an ergonomic nose pad that also fits all types of faces.
These glasses are one of the top-of-the-line sunglasses, with the dual advantage of transition and polarization.
These unisex photochromic glasses have a stylish design and are integrated with intelligent technology.
The glasses make use of a solar chip above the nose piece, along with a light sensor.
The solar chip absorbs the light and converts it into electricity for the sensor to efficiently detect the light’s intensity and change the density of lenses within a micro span of 0.1 seconds; this happens both indoors and outdoors.
An outstanding feature of these photochromic sunglasses with polarized lenses is the fact that the transition in these glasses is not dependent directly on the UV rays of the sun.
It hence can be used even while driving a car.
However, it is upon the wearer to make sure that the solar chip above the nosepiece is not covered.
The photochromic glasses’ UV protection is unquestionable, as the UV400 lenses are bound to protect the MTB riders’ eyes from 99% of the harmful UVA and UVB rays.
Furthermore, the color HD feature ensures that true colors are restored, and visual clarity and contrast are achieved with the high-density coating.
Not to forget, the polarized coating of the photochromic sunglasses ensures a clearer vision and offers better safety by reducing glare.
Coming to the basics, these mountain biking sunglasses have a durable, lightweight frame made of TR 90 material that has memory and is impact resistant.
The material and making of these photochromic sunglasses frame aim at protecting the wearer’s face from injuries in case of any severe crash that leads to the breakage of the frame.
The adjustable nose pads that come along with these glasses provide the best comfort for the wearer by keeping the glasses firm on the nose bridge.
The ventilation holes offered with these polarized glasses are a great relief for mountain bike riders or those involved in other outdoor activities.
They help prevent the suffocating feeling that wearing glasses gives after long hours in the sun.
These glasses also come with silicon legs which are anti-skid and designed to offer impact resistance and a comfortable riding experience.
Another photochromic sunglasses with polarized lenses, the TJUTR sunglasses, react to the UV rays, providing protection to the eyes with its transitional nature.
Designed in a rectangular frame, the glasses have a polarization coating, which significantly eliminates glare and provides protection from harmful UV rays.
Even though the glasses may not respond to extremely low lights, they are still good at reacting to indoor-outdoor transitions and great at outdoor transitions in bright daylight.
Though I wouldn’t recommend the glasses while driving, it is still a fantastic choice for mountain biking, running, fishing, and similar other outdoor activities.
3 Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Can prescription lenses be photochromic?
The answer is “YES”.
Some people with prescription lenses are out in the sun riding a mountain bike, hiking, or doing other outdoor activities.
Prescription photochromic glasses are indeed a blessing for them.
Today, several optical suppliers are committed to providing prescription photochromic glasses for those in need.
2. What is glare?
When light reaches a flat surface, it is reflected horizontally.
The concentrated bundle of light can cause a blinding experience, which is known as blinding glare.
The reflection of light can be uniform, or non-uniform, depending on the surface on which the light hits.
For example, light reflected from smooth surfaces such as roads, windows, etc., can be called uniform, whereas the light reflected on uneven surfaces like water can be referred to as non-uniform reflection.
Polarized glasses aim at eliminating the glare from all kinds of surfaces, uniform and non-uniform.
3. Are photochromic lenses effective while using computers and cell phones?
With the increasing need for eye protection from excessive exposure to blue rays from computer screens, televisions, mobile phones, and other gadgets, some optical manufacturers have developed photochromic glasses that can effectively block the blue rays from reaching the eyes.
The simplest solution to the question “is photochromic better than polarized” is to understand the differences between the two.
I hope you have been able to identify their individual traits and differences clearly and can now make an informed choice.
For a mountain biker, it is always a better solution to go for photochromic sunglasses with polarized lenses.
However, it would depend on one’s personal requirements and preferences as well.
Here’s wishing you good luck with the purchase and happy riding!
P.S. Consider also checking out our resource on why both, polarized glasses and photochromic glasses are beneficial for mountain biking.