From Al Pacino’s aviators to Selena Gomez’s round frames, sunglasses are the quintessential accessory, but they are so much more than a fashion statement; they provide protection from hazardous ultraviolet (UV) rays. Although it may be tempting to save money by purchasing a pair of budget shades, being a cheapskate doesn’t always pay off. Think beyond just making a fashion statement to protecting vision and eye health.
Avoid That End-of-Aisle Display
Not all shades are made equally. A quality pair has at least 95 percent UVA and 99 percent UVB protection. UV light rays are hazardous, especially with prolonged exposure over the long-term, causing cataracts or macular degeneration down the line. In a pair of budget sunglasses, the darkened lenses do not block UV rays. In fact, they cause pupil dilation, which allows more damaging UV rays to enter the eyes. That’s right. Opting for the cheap sunglasses on the end-of-aisle display at the drugstore could cause damage instead of providing protection.
The Perfect Pair and Price
Lens colors, anti-reflective coatings, mirror coatings, prescription lenses, styles, and more. Just short of X-ray vision, there are many features at play in the search for the perfect pair of shades. Larger shades—think Jackie O—that wrap around the face are fashionable and provide even more protection from rays that can slip in from the side. Darker lenses do not correlate with UV protection at all. Lens color is purely a personal preference. A major selling point for designers is polarization, but while polarized lenses reduce glare, they do not enhance UV protection.
Sure, cheap shades fall short, but that does not mean that shoppers need to drop $25,000 on Cartier Paris 18k Gold Sunglasses. In fact, a hefty price tag does not necessarily mean enhanced protection. Adding proper UV protection is not an expensive process, sometimes costing only a few pennies. Cheap pairs with UV protection, however, have poor optical quality. When shopping, try on a few pairs with a UV protection label to find the perfect frame, design, and color. After finding the perfect pair, don’t forget to apply a broad spectrum sunscreen because UV radiation can also lead to skin cancer, which is the most common type of cancer with 3.5 million cases diagnosed each year in the United States according to the American Cancer Society.
Don’t be tempted by the savings. The harm to eye health caused by budget sunglasses outweighs the savings. UV protection in sunglasses is a cool look.