April 21, 2024

It’s all in the “look” and feel.

We’re throwing “look” into quotations because we’re not only talking about the style and brand type of look, but also the clarity that you’ll see when looking through a pair of shades.

We’d like to help clarify some recent news reports on the differences between low-cost and the more expensive brands of sunglasses.

To start: It’s no secret that people consider sunglasses as much a part of their wardrobe as they do shoes, jeans, jackets and purses. As a rule of thumb, we tell folks that non-prescription sunglasses bought in a traditional retail channel like a drug store or gas station or sunglasses shop will provide your eyes with the protection they need from the sun, no matter the cost. Five bucks or $500, you’re better off wearing a pair of sunglasses than no pair at all. And most people seem to know that, judging by the number of Americans who wear sunglasses: Two in three U.S. citizens, or 196 million of us.

Now, on the topic of protection from ultraviolet rays: It can be confusing.

But essentially, any pair of sunglasses you buy in a retail store has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is considered by the agency to be a medical device. Therefore, all claims on the side of a sunglasses package are regulated by the agency, and any pair of sunglasses approved by the FDA should offer the ultraviolent protection it says it does. (We of course can’t vouch for those pairs you buy off the street…)

We think it’s great that people can have confidence knowing that when they buy a pair of sun-goggles, no matter the cost, they know they’re protecting two of their most important organs.

Where cost comes into play is in the brand name and the polarization to reduce sun glare.

Still, there’s simply no question that some people prefer the look and feel of one brand or style over the other. We think these buying choices are best left to the people, who are smart enough to know which sunglasses fit them best (the mirrors at every sunglasses store or rack display help, too).

So, are designer shades worth the price? Here’s what we say: Buy what makes you happy and feels right.

(By the way, if you want to get brought up to speed on eyewear terms, check out the Eyecessorize glossary, where you’ll learn about everything from Aviators to polarization to photochromic shades. Impress your friends!)