Expensive vs. Cheap Sunglasses: What’s the Difference?

In theory, a pair of sunglasses should be a relatively simple and straightforward thing - two pieces of tinted plastic or glass being held together in a metal or plastic frame. They should fit on your face and ideally, look good. Seem’s pretty standard and what most people are used to, right? But it is here that we find the problem.

Just about everybody wants a pair of good-looking sunglasses, and for many, that mean’s a pair of designer eyewear. However, for many others, they would rather opt for the cheaper, knock-off variety that by all appearances look exactly the same, minus the price tag.

So what is the real difference? In order to answer, we need to revamp our definition of what sunglasses should ultimately be.

A pair of sunglasses should do these 4 things:

  • Sunglasses should provide protection from ultraviolet rays found in the sun. UV light can damage the cornea and retina when not protected with quality eyewear. 
  • Sunglasses should provide protection from intense light. Any time the eye receives too much light, the retina will close in order to compensate. When it reaches it’s limit, the next step is a person will start to squint. When there is still too much light, the result can be damage to the retina. A good pair of sunglasses can block up to 97 percent of light entering the eye.
  • Sunglasses should provide protection from glare. Many surfaces, including sand, snow, water, and concrete can reflect light causing dangerous glares. Not only is this distracting, but they can hide objects out of sight, leading to potential injury. A quality pair of sunglasses will completely eliminate this glare through a process known as polarization.
  • Sunglasses should be able to eliminate specific light frequencies. Our eyes are more sensitive to certain frequencies of light than others, and some of these can actually blur one's vision. Having the option to choose the right colour of lens can help to avoid this problem.

Now that we have established what a pair of sunglasses should do, you may find it interesting to note that what we also just described was what you get when you purchase a designer pair of sunglasses.

The problem with purchasing a cheap pair of sunglasses over a more established brand is that you are often giving up all the aforementioned qualities. The main difference between designer sunglasses and a cheaper variety is that while both can provide a fashionable accent to your look, it is the designer option that seamlessly blends form and function. So next time you are in the market for a pair of sunglasses, opt for the designer pair - that way you can have your cake and eat it too.