Free shipping on all orders over $50  |  Play smart. Play safe. Non-toxic suncare

Why $5 Sunglasses May Protect Your Eyes Better Than a $500 Pair

by kelly / July, 17 2019 01:30

Photo of a pair of sunglasses in the sand at sunset

The price of sunglasses varies widely from a few dollars to hundreds or even thousands. But how much do you need to really spend to actually protect your eyes from the sun? Do you need to shell out hundreds of dollars or can you spend much less? The answer is surprising and a little confusing…

What Are Sunglasses?

I know we know what they are but do you really know the purpose sunglasses serve? For many putting on a pair of sunglasses can suddenly make your whole outfit look cooler. That’s definitely how I think about my sunglasses Laughing.

But sunglasses actually serve a real purpose beyond just making you look stylish. Sunglasses are meant to block UVA and UVB rays.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation - a good pair should block 99 to 100 percent of the sun’s UV rays and should fit comfortably over your ears and not slip down the bridge of your nose to truly protect.

Why should you care about protecting your eyes from the sun? Well according to the American Optometric Association:

“The sun’s UV rays can damage the skin of the eyelid as well as the cornea, lens and other parts of the eye. Those UV rays can cause more serious conditions over the years, including cataracts, pterygium (an abnormal growth of the covering of the white of the eye onto the cornea), and cancer of the eyelids, skin around the eye and even the eye.”

I think those are good reasons to buy a pair!

Sunglasses Are Medical Devices?

In the US sunglasses are classified as medical devices and are regulated by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA). As a result sunglasses have to meet certain federal regulations. That was definitely something I didn’t know when I began researching this article.

Based on my research it doesn’t seem that sunglass manufacturers actually have to test/prove their sun blocking level to the FDA. Instead the regulations seem to be about registration, following quality manufacturing procedures, and making sure the lenses are certified as impact resistant. Of course I’m not an expert in FDA sunglasses rules but that is my interpretation.

In all it was a little odd to me that there didn’t seem to be regulations around the sun blocking ability of sunglasses (like the regulations that exist for sunscreens!). And according to Angela Tempesta, an optometrist:

“The sunglass industry is loosely regulated, and unfortunately, some manufacturers falsely label sunglasses as 100 percent UV protection when, in fact, they are not…Consumers have little guarantee that what the protection they think they are buying is real.”

Ok so where does that leave you when buying a pair and figuring out how much to spend?

How Much Should I Spend on Sunglasses?

According to Aaron Zimmerman, an associate professor of clinical optometry at the Ohio State University:

“The inexpensive $5 pairs should perform the exact same as the $200 pair in terms of UV blocking…The optical quality will likely be of better quality with the more expensive pair, but the UV blocking performance will be equitable… The vast majority of sunglasses sold in the United States will protect your eyes from UVA and UVB”

So it seems a $5 pair can work. Just make sure you’re buying your sunglasses from a reputable store or brand.

If you aren’t sure you’re buying what’s advertised, according to Tempesta:

“You can bring them to most eye care providers or optical locations to be tested in a photometer to determine the level of protection.”

So in the end you can go the less expensive route – the more expensive pairs are really about style. Of course if you want to spend more that’s ok. Just make sure you’re getting the right level of protection with the pair you decide to buy.

Sun Protection for Your Eyes

Sun protection is vital for your eyes and a good pair of sunglasses will go a long way to keeping your eyes safe in the sun. The good news is you don’t have to break the bank to get a pair that works.

If you want even more advice on sun care for your eyes check out our Suncare Smarts blog series.

Tags: , , , ,

blog comments powered by Disqus