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Expensive Designer Sunglasses Are Not Necessarily Better

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Does the price of sunglasses make you blink? Well, the whole industry may be making a lot of shady claims, so don't be suckered.

An image of really cool sunglasses

Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight has been associated with the development of  cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  Quality sunglasses protect your eyes by blocking 100 percent of the sun's harmful UV rays.  Sunglasses also protect the delicate skin around the eyes from UV rays that cause wrinkles and premature aging.

Sunglasses have become a way of making a fashion statement (examples are Ray Ban sunglasses or Oakley sunglasses), but all too often that statement is "I've overpaid, so these must be good". Don't be taken in by some of the advertising claims that many expensive brands feature. In these ads, the underlying message is that the more you pay, the better will be the sun protection for your eyes. The assumption is left to be made that unless you spring for a lot of money, your eyes won't be properly protected from harmful ultraviolet rays, which come in two forms: UVA, and UVB.

Dr. Gordon Squires, an ophthalmologist and member of the Canadian Ophthalmological Society's eye safety committee, reported that the idea of spending more to get the best protection is strictly a fantasy. He bought a pair of $7 sunglasses from his local gas station, then took them back to his office and tested them. He found that, just as their sticker claimed, they blocked 100% of the ultraviolet light. A survey conducted in Consumer Reports backs up Dr. Squires findings. A comparison of 180 kinds of sunglasses from $7 cheap sunglasses to the top of the line $200 luxury designer sunglasses found that there was absolutely no difference in their performance. The only major difference was the quality of the frames, and the absence of tacky cartoon characters on the designer jobs.

The best color of lens, according to Dr. Squires is neutral gray, because it blocks the entire visible spectrum and filters out almost all UV light, without altering color perception.

Here's an action tip:
The main thing to remember is that we should all protect our eyes when out in the sun. But as long as the lenses block all the UV light, there is no advantage in spending lots of money on designer sunglasses. After all, if you are like most people, you'll only end up losing them anyway!

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