Tip of The Day

Tip of The Day

Jul 25, 2012

Being a native Californian I’ve always known about the sun’s dangerous rays and the precautions we all need to take to protect our eyes.  And of course, being an eye doctor, I’m always mindful of advising my patients on sun protection and eyewear options

For example, I’ve talked before about getting your prescription made into cool sunglasses with polarized lenses to block UV rays and cut unwanted glare.  But have you ever noticed, while wearing polarized lenses, that certain LCD (Liquid Crystal Displays), like the gasoline readout at the pump, are unreadable?  Either totally dark or just weirdly dim?

Today I’ll suggest how you can deal with this, but first let’s look at why this happens.

A polarized lens has filters that orient the incoming light at a specific angle to modify annoying horizontal rays coming off of flat surfaces or off of the water, for example.  They do this because the unwanted glare coming off of highways, the ocean, lakes, and snow is oriented horizontally.

This feature is why polarized glasses are so comfortable in these environments.  But many LCD’s transmit light in a way that polarized lenses almost completely block out! That’s why the gas pump screen looks blank and you have to lift up your glasses to see the unbelievable cost of the gas you just bought.

Luckily, many of today’s high tech’ engineers already realized this problem and their readout designs are now oriented so this doesn’t happen.  With today’s Twisted Nematic Displays (TN) and In Plane Switching (IPS) technologies, they scramble light around to enhance the images we see without the dark zone problems.  This is what we all now have on our cell phones, computer screens, tablets, and flat screen TV’s.

But there are still some of these displays with that annoying “cancelling appearance” out there.  So when you come upon these, here is my tip of the day: You don’t have to curse your glasses and shuffle things around to free a hand to remove your shades!  Just tilt your head a bit, either left or right, maybe 45’, and all is suddenly clear Try it at the grocery checkout gizmo you run your card through or your car radio digital display.  It works here too.   I don’t mean the clock on your DVD or your microwave.  Those work a bit differently.

This trick works with all sorts of technologies we see today.  And, even with the displays altered so they are not dark, you can tilt your head while looking at them, and the screen goes dark!  This just means the technology hasn’t eliminated the problem, just moved it to another angle that we don’t usually use. Unless you spend a lot of time viewing your world with your head tilted way over like Detective Goren in Law & Order: Criminal Intent when he interrogates suspects.

Not all tips of the day are world changing, but they can be fun!

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