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Are Cheap Sunglasses Killing Your Eyes?

May 26, 2015

A look into how people are unknowingly doing major damage to an important asset.

It’s summer, it’s hot, the sun is directly overhead and the rays are intense. People are outside at the beach, in the mountains, at the park, at music festivals and participating in any number of other outdoor activities.

When people head outdoors, they tend to always remember the sunscreen because the sun’s harmful Ultraviolet (UV) rays can take a serious toll on their skin which can potentially lead to skin cancer. More and more people are choosing higher SPF and more expensive sunscreen to protect their health.

However, the precautions taken toward protecting one’s eyes is not always considered as seriously. The cheap sunglass craze that is popular right now across the globe is perhaps making people feel quite fashionable at low price but has left people, often times unknowingly, allowing their eyes to be seriously damaged by the sun.

What makes cheap sunglasses cheep is the material they are constructed with and how the lenses function. Unfortunately, many sunglass manufactures are able to advertise 100% UV protection by using a spray on protective UV coating on their lenses. This spray-on coating does provide protection but as soon as people wipe their sunglasses to clean them, the coating comes off. A couple hours into wearing brand new cheep sunglasses and the protection could already be gone without the person even knowing it.

UV rays are very harmful for your eyes and sometimes the inexpensive glasses don’t have the full UV coverage that’s needed to protect against the rays,” says Ana P. Vargas optometrist of L.A Optometrique. “They need to have UV400 and typically cheep sunglasses don’t have that . They will have UV200 or UV100, which still lets UV light through. If you’re wearing cheap sunglasses or not wearing sunglasses at all, the sun can cause redness and dryness and that can lead to tritium which is a membrane growth on your eye. It can also cause cataracts and in the long term the UV rays can hurt the back of your eye, the macula and cause macular degeneration which is a leading cause for eyesight loss. So, UV rays can really affect all layers of they eye.”

Lets Break It Down:

Sunglasses have a tint to the lens, which makes it easier to see in the bright light. More importantly they have a UV coating, which prevents the UV rays from hitting your eyes and causing some serious damage. The Tint, you can see, but the UV coating you can’t. When you remove that UV Coating from the lens it’s actually more harmful to be wearing sunglasses. The tint essentially tricks your eyes into thinking it’s darker outside so your pupil opens up letting more light in. With the glasses on and no UV protection your pupil is more open and those UV rays have an easier time getting into your retina. The rays can cause some serious damage to your macula and over time can lead to macular degeneration, which like Vargas said, is a leading cause of vision loss.


“Quality sunglasses will have the full spectrum of UV protection classified as UV400 and have several layers of protection for your eyes such as Antireflection, UV, tint, scratch resistant and my be polarized,” says Mark Reininga founder of Lucid Eyewear. “High quality sunglasses are made from materials like Acetate instead of plastic, high grade metal for the hinges, and poly carbonate or glass lenses. All these combined into a top level sunglass will not only feel better on your face and skin but will also protect your eyes better. You know the saying, you get what you pay for.”

“Being an ocean front lifeguard in San Diego and an avid surfer,” says Rodger Eales, “I’m in the sun a lot and it’s very important to protect my eyes. Quality sunglasses are a premium piece of equipment. Having polarized lens is important to protect my eyes and it provides an advantage for me when observing the water by cutting light and giving me the ability to see textures, hazards and water formations. Lastly, it goes without saying, comfort and style has no price.”

“Sunglasses are super important for protecting your eyes,” says Olympian boarder cross athlete, Trevor Jacob, “In and out of competition, so it’s very important to have glasses from a brand that you can trust to provide real protection.”


This is what it looks like when you look through cheap glasses (left) and quality sunglasses (right) with a UV, Anti reflective, Grey Tint and Polarized Coating. View these glasses here.

Cheap sunglasses can literally kill your eyes, so just like you would spend the extra money for quality high SPF sunscreen to protect your skin, spend the money for a good pair of sunglasses and protect one of your most important assets, your eyes!

For sunglasses with actual protection visit Lucid Eyewear

Click here to Visit Ana P. Vargas optometrist of L.A Optometrique online store.