Are Expensive Sunglasses Really Better

Commonly we are asked about the difference between inexpensive and expensive sunglasses and what the benefits might be for spending more. Linda Conlin at 20/20 magazine has some great reasoning behind why sometimes spending more is better.

Winter is here, and even with shorter days, many consumers understand that sunglasses aren’t just for summer. But why do non-prescription sunglass wearers like to challenge eyecare professionals by asking if there really is a difference between expensive and inexpensive sunglasses? The question is almost always accompanied by that “gotcha” look. It seems as though they think that because they don’t need vision correction, they can spend as little as possible, and gain a bargain unavailable to prescription lens wearers. I’ve found, however, that precisely because they don’t wear glasses, emmetropes know very little about sun lenses.

Invariably, our first response to the question is that sunglasses at any price should offer 100% UVA and UVB protection. That response is often countered by, “They have a sticker on them that says so.” Consumer tests have shown that especially in the case of unknown brands of inexpensive sunglasses, a sticker is no guarantee of UV protection. Then there’s the issue of lens quality. Optical quality, warpage and impact resistance can be unknown factors with inexpensive sunglasses.

While all products sold as sunglasses in the United States must meet FDA standards, those standards don’t apply to products sold as “novelty items” or toys. Although those items must have warning labels that they aren’t intended for use as sunglasses for eye protection, the labels can be removed by unscrupulous sellers, or ignored by bargain hunters. What’s more, importers need only submit batch samples for testing to ensure FDA compliance. Each and every item isn’t tested, leaving a loophole for fraud.

The last argument for buying inexpensive sunglasses is usually, “I lose them all the time.” Because we can’t help people keep track of their belongings. Are people less concerned about the glasses because they can replace them inexpensively, and so it’s also OK for them to lose them more easily? I’ve heard more than one person say, “I finally spent more on a better pair of sunglasses, and I haven’t lost them.” Is it the money, or do they like the comfort and clarity better? Hopefully, it’s the realization that you get what you pay for.

At Schmidt’s Optical and Hearing™ we are happy to help in any way with all of your eyeglass questions and help you with your vision and eyeglass needs. Come in and talk to one of our well qualified opticians today.

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