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Are Polarized Sunglasses Good for Baseball?

author image Anita Y. Tsuchiya
Since 1998, Anita Y. Tsuchiya has written case studies, research papers, how-tos, news articles and ebooks for a variety of media outlets. She received a Bachelor of Science in animal science from the University of California, Davis and studied acupuncture at NIAOM in Seattle.
Are Polarized Sunglasses Good for Baseball?
An older man with sunglasses in standing in a baseball field. Photo Credit McIninch/iStock/Getty Images

Like many outdoor sports played during the daytime, baseball is subject to a lot of glare. Glare can make it difficult to see the ball coming at you from an inside fastball, hard-hit line drive or towering pop-up. Fortunately, one of the most effective ways you can combat problems caused by glare is to wear polarized sunglasses.

Here Comes the Sun

All sunglasses work by filtering out some of the ambient light before it reaches your eyes. Non-polarized sunglasses do this simply by making the lenses darker, thus lowering the total amount of all light that passes through them. Polarized lenses are better for sports, such as baseball, because the filtering mechanism differentially reduces unwanted glare while letting in more of the desirable light needed for sharp vision.

When to Wear Sunglasses

Aside from pitchers, many ballplayers wear sunglasses when they play defense. Fewer wear sunglasses when batting because the frame may partially obstruct their vision. That said, if you have light colored eyes, such as blue or hazel, you may have more trouble seeing in bright light compared to someone with dark brown eyes. Major league outfielder Josh Hamilton, who has light blue eyes, wears sunglasses while in the outfield and at the plate.

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Do Sunglasses Cause Distorted Vision?

Polarized or not, any lens imparts some optical distortion. This can be due to surface defects, lens curvature, fit problems (slippage), condensation, dirt and tinting. Polarized lenses work best when they are level. The more they are rotated away from horizontal -- clockwise or counterclockwise -- the more unwanted glare will leak through.The best solution is to invest in a pair of high-quality, sports-specific sunglasses.

Beyond Polarization: Tinting, Durability and UV Protection

Another feature to help you see better is proper lens tint. Amber and yellow enhance visual contrast, making it easier to differentiate the ball from its background. Avoid lenses that are so dark you can’t see well when running into a shadowy corner from the bright outfield. Lastly, consider that another critical function of sunglasses is to protect your eyes from injury. Choose sunglasses that won’t shatter on impact from a foul tip or infielder’s knee. Tinting and polarization do not protect your eyes from UV radiation, so make sure your sunglasses filter UV light.

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