Throwing shade(s)…into a river

WHat's the difference between polarized vs UV protection shades? Do they have to be expensive?
Throwing shade(s)…into a river

By Jeff Lund



So, there I was on Wyoming’s North Platte River catching brown and rainbow trout in the hot morning sun. Well, actually it was pretty cool, but when you’re from Alaska, 60-degrees feels like 70, 65-degrees feels like 80 and 75-degrees feels like 1000. It was somewhere between 70 and 1000 degrees and I scooped up water from the cool river with my hat to cool myself down, plopped it back on my head dislodging my glasses when them fell off.

My $150 pair of Oakleys rolling down river never to be seen again. I squinted my way to a headache that afternoon which may have been because of the sun or frustration because I stopped catching fish. Anyway, when we got back to Laramie, I started looking into new glasses.  

Polarized vs. UV protection

As an angler I like polarized glasses because it allows me to “see through” the water. That is, it reduces glare and sharpens the picture which is important while fishing. The lenses filter the light that comes in, which allows for great visibility. However, not all polarized sun glasses help against UV rays and the simple polarization only helps a little against UV rays. This isn’t much of a problem since most of my sunglass usage is in Ketchikan, Alaska, a city that averages well over 100 inches of rain per year. Even when it is sunny, the UV index is pretty low so my exposure to harmful UV radiation is limited and I likely won’t be one of the “3.2 million people who go blind from eye conditions caused by prolonged exposure.”

Sun glasses with UV protection have a special coating that absorbs the UV rays and keeps them from infiltrating your eyes. Before UV protection, people recognized the damage that not only the sun itself, but glare can do. 

Do they have to be expensive?

No, lots of inexpensive sunglasses are UV coated, or polarized. However, as with anything, less expensive might mean you’re not getting the quality. Additionally, just because you spend more, doesn’t mean you’re getting a better pair of glasses. Listen to Episode 72 for Dean’s rant about how often we pay for the company name (18:45).


Why so serious?

But not everything has to be negative and catastrophic. Not everything has to have to come with a warning label about causing cancer… hear that California? Sunglasses have been an expressive accessory since well before people started wearing ridiculous glasses on New Year’s Eve. Elton John took sunglasses to new heights, which you may have noticed in the new movie. Which I haven’t seen.  

Anyway, there is a difference between serious glasses and promo glasses and I rebought the same model of the pair I lost in the North Platte River. I also bought a pair of chums.

Jeff Lund is a freelance writer and high school English teacher in Ketchikan, Alaska.