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Can sunglasses help you drive in the rain?

There is only one thing worse than driving and that is driving in the rain. We’ve all been there; a few water droplets fall from the sky and suddenly everyone forgets how to drive. Then, the windshield becomes smudged with rain, visibility is lowered, and is it just me, or does everyone forget they have a turn signal? However, there is one thing you can do to ease your driving-in-the-rain pain - wear sunglasses.

Why is it better to wear sunglasses while it’s raining? 

Not any old pair of sunglasses will work. Regular, tinted sunglasses simply darken the world around you. To help combat the effects of rain, only polarized shades will do! When it’s raining, the wet roads and water droplets everywhere create tons of surfaces that bounce back the light, causing glare. Glare makes it way harder to see, and polarized lenses help cut through that glare.

This is because polarized sunglasses filter out the unwanted light waves that cause glare. The lenses only allow vertical light to pass through. Most of the glare that you see, comes from horizontal surfaces, like the road. So, filtering out those horizontal waves gets rid of blinding reflected light, and allows you to see a clearer, more comfortable view.

However, beware of your tint! Unless it’s a quick sun shower, the sky typically turns a gloomy dark grey. Wearing too dark of a tint in that condition would further lower your visibility, making it more dangerous to drive - polarized lenses or not. 

Pair of sunglasses with Glacier mirror lenses from Fuse Lenses sitting in a puddle
Water on the road after rain causes dangerous glare. Polarized sunglasses can help cut through the glare.

What are the best lenses to use while it’s raining?

The ideal driving tint for medium to low sunlight is going to be a Category 2 lens or lighter. A Category 2 lens includes VLTs that range from 18-45%, meaning that the lenses allow 18-45% of visible light to pass through the lenses. Lenses in this category are perfect for the rain since they allow more light in and are suitable for conditions below bright sunlight. The Category 2 polarized lenses available at Fuse are the grey gradient polarized, brown gradient polarized, and yellow polarized.

Most sunglasses, as well as most of the lenses that Fuse carries, will be a Category 3 lens. Category 3 is the most common level, meant for use in bright light. Some sunglasses may have a category number listed on the inside temple of the frames by the model number. However, if you’re not sure, just use your best judgment. In some conditions, Category 3 lenses may be suitable to wear. But, if the world looks too dark though your sunglasses - it probably is.  

How do I know if my lenses are polarized? 

Not sure if your sunglasses are polarized? Here are two different tests to try at home:

Test to determine if your sunglasses are polarized
You can turn your sunglasses in front of a LCD screen to see if they darken.

1. Computer Test

All you will need for this one is a back-lit LCD computer. Look at the computer screen through your lenses, then, start to rotate your glasses. If your lenses are polarized, it will start to get darker as you turn it until it blacks out. The reason why this test work is because LCD screens also use polarized technology.

Test to determine if your lenses are polarized
You can take out your lenses, and slowly turn one to see if it darkens.

2. Pop-Out Your Lenses

The first thing you should do is find a sheet of white paper. With both of your lenses already popped out of your frames, hold one lens on top of the white paper as if you were looking through it. Hold the other lens on top of the first facing the same direction and slowly start turning it until the second lens is vertical to the first one. If it is polarized, you should see the overlap area of the two lenses progressively getting darker until it completely blacks out. This is because the bottom lens blocks out horizontal light waves and the top lens blocks out vertical light waves. The bottom and the top lenses cancel each other out which means no light can pass through.


Summary

Sunglasses can help you while driving in the rain! However, there are some considerations you need to take. First, always grab a pair of polarized sunglasses. Polarized lenses are going to be the only ones that help cut through the glare caused by reflections off of the water. Second, make sure the tint level of your sunglasses isn’t too dark for the weather conditions. Fuse recommends lens colors that are suitable for general or lower light conditions such as our grey gradient polarized, brown gradient polarized, or yellow polarized. If you are not sure if your lenses are polarized, there are tests you can perform at home to double-check.


All in all - be smart! Even with the right sunglasses, if rain or fog is too heavy or dense, it can be very dangerous to drive in. Always use your best judgment in these situations. And, as always you can ask us any questions you may have about what lenses are suitable for any activity, driving included!

 


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