By David Goldberg

Winter is a polarizing season.

You either love it or you hate it, but you definitely can’t avoid it.

You also can’t avoid the sun’s punishing UV rays, which are every bit as intense in the winter as summer, despite fewer hours of total sunlight.

And polarized lenses are your best line of defence in keeping your eyes protected and getting the most out of those long, Canadian winters.

Centennial Optical offers a wide range of polarized lens options, says Rick Leroux, Centennial’s director, marketing and communications.

“Both within its own Centoptic lens brand portfolio, which includes polarized Centoptic SunMirrors, and across their full range of digitally customized lenses.”

NuPolar lenses by Younger Optics are state-of-the-art polarized lenses available in a variety of materials, colours and treatments, including photochromic Infinite Gray polarized lenses, which continuously adapt to changing light conditions, as well as solid, gradient and mirror coated.

“The sun is at a lower angle during morning and afternoon rush hours in the winter months, creating more binding glare at peak drive times,” says Leroux.

The solution would be Transitions Drivewear lenses by Younger Optics, which are polarized photochromic lenses designed for driving and react to changing weather and light conditions, from overcast to bright sunshine, both outside and behind the windshield of a car.

And for people who love winter sports, there’s the BluTech Outdoor lenses, explains Leroux.

“UV levels are higher at higher altitudes, so UV exposure can be even greater for skiers on a mountain than it is at sea level during a tropical beach vacation. In addition to UV and glare protection, polarized lenses will also provide more comfortable vision, improve contrast and depth perception and prevent eye fatigue,” he says.

Martine Ahier, senior marketing manager, brands and products, at Essilor Canada, would agree.

“Sunwear, and polarized lenses more specifically, are the perfect choice for winter sports and activities,” Ahier explains. “High luminosity and blinding glare from the snow, ice or water on the road can generate high levels of discomfort.”

Ahier explains that Xperio polarized sun lenses combined with any of the Crizal Sun UV coatings will provide excellent visual comfort and maximized UV protection so that people can enjoy the outdoors in winter.

The Xperio experience vows to eliminate glare and improve visual acuity and provide better colour perception with contrast sensitivity improved by 75 per cent.

Essilor’s polarized lenses offer a wide range of designs including  Eyezen+ and Varilux, and in a large array of colours, mirrors and styles to meet all lifestyles, ages, and prescription needs.

“Simply put,” says Ahier, “We suggest that they first correct their vision, then protect it in style and ultimately enhance its clarity.”

At Hoya Vision Care, Hoya Polarized lenses filter out blinding reflections, leaving a comfortably clear view with crisp colours and rich contrasts – exactly what you need in snow or when driving.

With a selection of three colours and an array of optional mirrored coatings, Hoya Polarized lenses are a great solution for sun protection and also a perfect accessory for those who want to make a clear fashion statement.

“Only polarized sunglass lenses have the technology required to selectively reduce the brightness of reflected light rays to a greater degree than the brightness of surrounding objects,” says Hoya’s Maria Petrucelli.

Light travels in many directions and it reflects randomly off shiny surfaces. This glare will

impair quality of vision as perception of colour and contrast will change. It is clearly noticeable when looking into a shop window on a sunny day, when you see reflections in the window rather than what’s on display.

From Safilo Group, most of the company’s collections offer some polarized options, including the Carrera, Boss, Kate Spade New York and POLAROID brands.

Some of the boldest, most stylish frames on hand come from the POLAROID collection, including the PLD 4078SX/S with its serious pop of pink and purple, and  the more classic yet flashy look of PLD 6094/S with its honey-coloured frames and rose gold lenses.

Rag & Bone is making its mark in winter high fashion too with models like RNB 5024G/S and RNB 5025GS/S, offering various lens colours and bridge styles. 

And what about the kids?

From Alternative Eyewear & Plan “B” Eyewear, there are some new additions to the popular and very colourful Solar Clip Collection for the Nano Vista line.

“Camper and Pixel are now part of the solar clip family,” says Cassandra Slepian, director of marketing and sales. “The two new models feature the favourite frame shapes in a variety of new Solar Clip exclusive covers, including turquoise, black and green.”

In addition, new colours have been added to the existing models available in the collection. 

“Each Nano Solar Clip features a 100 per cent polarized, blue-block lens for superb UV protection,” says Slepian. 

And every Solar clip features the Nano Vista features the 2-in-1 strap system, patented 52 hinge, easy adjust temples and 100% siliflex construction for a comfortable, lightweight and indestructible frame.

At Maui Jim, Jeff Speiran, managing director of Canada, says sunglasses with polarized lenses are just as essential for Canadian winters as gloves, toques and scarves.

“UV rays are still strong during the winter as the sun sits lower in the sky and at a different angle,” he says. 

Maui Jim’s Kaupo Gap HT combines a staple aviator silhouette with a thin-injected nylon frame that is as light as a feather.

Paired with Maui Jim’s most advanced lens material, MauiBrilliant, its features are designed for longer wear time and superior clarity.

“Your eyes can be susceptible to UV exposure when sunlight bounces off snow and reflects UV rays back up,” says Speiran. “The proprietary PolarizedPlus2 lens technology used by Maui Jim helps eliminate 99.9 per cent of glare and reduces the impact of horizontal glare shining off of snowy surfaces, so you can safely enjoy the great outdoors.”

Another offering from Maui Jam is the Even Keel model, ready to guide your future journeys. Whether around town or cross-country, get ready to experience impressive views with a noteworthy aesthetic. Enchanting nylon and stainless steel frame materials are paired with SuperThin (ST) Glass lenses for optimal clarity.