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Designer shades: Are they really worth it?

African American male wearing designer sunglasses

Are expensive, designer sunglasses worth their high price tag? While pricier shades are usually made of higher-quality materials and tend to be more durable, even inexpensive sunglasses can offer adequate sun protection. 

Should you pay more for your next pair of shades? Or would paying less get you what you need?

Here are the answers to frequently asked questions about pricey designer sunglasses and less costly sunwear to help you decide which option is best for you:

Do designer sunglasses offer better UV protection? 

Not necessarily. Sunglasses with proper UV protection are widely available, whether they’re from a designer label or a drugstore. 

When it comes to shielding your eyes from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, it’s more important to look for UV labels than price tags. As long as your prospective shades provide 99% to 100% UV protection, they will shield your eyes and safeguard your vision. 

UV labels should be displayed with the sunglasses, but if not, an optical store or eye care professional should be able to test the UV protection percentage for you. 

There are plenty of low-cost sunglasses available that adequately block the sun’s rays, so if that’s genuinely your only concern, the high price tag is unnecessary.

FIND THE BEST SUN PROTECTION FOR YOUR EYES: Shop for sunglasses at an optical store near you or an online eyewear retailer.

Do expensive sunglasses offer a better visual experience?

When constructed with higher-quality lens materials and certain optional lens coatings, expensive sunglasses might, in fact, offer a better visual experience. 

Remember that both premium and low-cost shades offer proper UV ray protection and sometimes even polarization. But these extra coatings are not necessarily indicative of the overall quality of the lenses. And some coatings are more effectively applied and therefore longer lasting than others.

For example, less expensive non-prescription (or plano) sunglasses might offer the same level of UV protection as pricier options, but they likely won’t have scratch-resistant lenses. Over time, you might end up with lenses marred by scratches and this will affect the quality of your vision. 

Inexpensive polarized shades help to reduce glare, but the coating may be cheaply applied to the back or front of the lenses instead of in between layers of lens. This could easily make cheaper polarized sunglasses more prone to distortion, scratches and warping. 

High-end sunglasses typically come with these additional lens coatings manufactured into the lenses, which will help keep the lenses in good shape and resistant to superficial wear and tear. They also may feature glass or polycarbonate lenses that will stand up to everyday wear for years. 

Expensive sunglasses also more readily offer the option for prescription and/or photochromic lenses (such as Transitions), so you can step out into the sun with the clearest vision possible. 

SEE ALSO: Are cheap sunglasses bad for your eyes?

Does a high price tag mean high-quality frame materials? 

When you’re shelling out extra cash for expensive sunglasses, that premium should be reflected in the frame quality

Because pricier sunglasses are available with prescription lenses and additional lens coatings, the frames and hinges need to be flexible enough to be taken apart and reassembled. And they must be durable enough to safely accommodate potentially heavier prescription lenses. 

You’ll also find that designer label and brand name shades usually offer more impact-resistant frame options, making them a safer choice for sports and performance sunglasses

Do expensive sunglasses last longer? 

The longevity of your sunglasses will ultimately depend on how well you care for them. Simply put, if you’re rough with your sunglasses, they probably won’t last as long regardless of the price. 

However, sunglasses made with higher-quality materials will naturally hold up better than cheaper styles made with low-quality materials. 

So, it’s possible you could be better off buying expensive sunglasses that will hopefully last longer. 

But if you’re really rough on your eyewear, stick to cheap shades you don’t mind replacing every time you break yet another pair.

Expensive or less costly sunglasses? 

If your desired name-brand shades feature durable frame and lens materials, effectively shield against UV rays, and provide a comfortable fit in your preferred style, they could be well worth the investment. 

Plus, if that designer or brand name means that much to you, go for it! They’re your eyes, and it’s your wallet.

However, if those stylish shades feature little more than a fancy logo but comparable sun protection, you may want to go with the more affordable sunnies. 

FIND THE BEST SUNGLASSES FOR YOUR NEEDS (AND BUDGET): Shop for sunglasses at an optical store near you or at an online eyewear retailer.

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