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7 best places to buy sunglasses in 2022

man shopping for sunglasses

Online or in stores, there is no shortage of places to buy sunglasses

Quality sunglasses that protect your eyes and look great at the same time are not hard to find. However, it may be tough to decide where to shop for that perfect pair that fits your budget and your style. Because, well, in 2022 there are just so many options for where to find great sunglasses. 

When shopping for shades, some things about sunglasses are non-negotiable. Like the fact that you need to wear them anytime you’re outside during the day. Failing to do so allows the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays to damage your cornea and retina, putting you at risk of some very serious eye conditions (such as cataracts or macular degeneration). 

But what is negotiable about sunglasses? Where to buy them!

Should you buy your sunglasses online? Head to the mall? Go to an optical shop that specializes in eyewear? Buy an expensive pair or shop discounts? 

Use this guide to help you figure it all out, with details on the best places to buy sunglasses. 

Best places to buy sunglasses online

1. EYEBUYDIRECT

When you find the perfect pair of sunglasses online, you don’t want to wait weeks to show off your new look. EyeBuyDirect now offers delivery in two business days in the United States. That speedy delivery will cost you, but it includes a premium case. 

If you can’t decide what kind of sunglasses to get, you can shop EyeBuyDirect’s sunglasses by frame shape or color in men’s and women’s styles — all for under $50. 

Searching for a more unique look? EyeBuyDirect has teamed up with Queer Eye’s resident fashion expert Tan France to present a curated collection of fashion sunglasses. 

2. GLASSESSHOP

If you are committed to buying your next pair of sunnies without going to an actual brick-and-mortar store, you probably want to find an online retailer that makes the selection process very easy. Simplicity reigns at GlassesShop

GlassesShop has been around since 2004, and the company specializes in stylish frames that easily fit into most budgets (we’re talking under $35 for even the most on-trend designs). What really sets this American-owned purveyor of sunglasses apart, though, is the level of detail on their website. 

Want to know the dimensions of the bridge, frame, arm and lenses? The weight? The materials used in manufacturing? They’ve got you covered. You can even upload your own photo to “try on” your new sunglasses before completing the transaction and, if necessary, add a prescription. 

3. DIFF CHARITABLE EYEWEAR

For online shoppers interested in buying sunglasses from a smaller company with a philanthropic spirit, check out DIFF Charitable Eyewear. DIFF’s “buy one/give one” program provides a pair of glasses to a person in need for each pair of sunglasses sold. 

The company’s eyewear is exclusive, too, so you won’t find it anywhere else. Sounds expensive, but it isn’t — all of DIFF’s sunglasses are under $100, and they offer a cool rewards program that allows customers to earn points for things like following the company on social media, referring a friend and even just having a birthday. 

4. FramesDirect

FramesDirect.com markets stylish designer eyewear, including sunglasses, from brands including Ray-Ban, Costa, Oakley, Prada and Versace. Prices range from $30 to $2,000 for sunglasses frames, and the site offers a Price-Match Guarantee on designer styles. The guarantee is honored for up to two weeks from placement of your order. 

Shoppers buying prescription sunglasses can expect to receive their orders in 11 to 14 business days. And returns or exchanges are available within 30 days. If lenses need to be replaced, half the cost of the original lenses will go toward purchase of the new ones. For returns, expect to receive a full refund, minus half the cost of the prescription lenses.

Best stores to buy sunglasses in person

If you prefer to “try before you buy,” shopping for sunglasses in person is your best option. Additionally, if you’re planning to buy prescription shades, especially if you have a complex prescription, it’s best to buy through your eye care practitioner 

Whether online or in person, the best place to buy sunglasses is from a reputable and trustworthy retailer. Some prefer wholesale stores like Costco and Walmart, or eyewear chains like Pearle Vision and Warby Parker.

Some of the best places to shop in-store for your sunglasses include:

5. LensCrafters

If having a plentiful selection will help you figure this all out, Sunglass Hut and LensCrafters are sound shopping options. For one thing, both stores carry quintessential brands like Ray-Ban, Oakley and Maui Jim. They also carry designer/luxury labels (Prada, Burberry, Tiffany and the above-mentioned handmade Persol sunglasses, to name a few) and many other brands in a wide range of prices. 

6. Sunglass Hut

Plus, both stores are very easy to find. Sunglass Hut has more than 1,600 stores across the United States (many of them in shopping malls), and LensCrafters allows would-be customers to easily search for locations online via ZIP code. 

Both stores also offer easy online ordering and special discounts for certain shoppers (Sunglass Hut, for example, offers a 15% discount for first responders; LensCrafters gives AAA members 30% off). 

As an added bonus, LensCrafters stores offer eye exams on-site — so if you want prescription lenses for your sunglasses, you can take care of that at the same time you are picking out your swanky new frames. 

7. Your local optical shop or eye doctor’s office

You can get prescription shades from many online retailers, but if your prescription is complex, or if you want a professional to help you measure your pupillary distance (PD) — the distance between the centers of your pupils — you can visit an optical shop to have your prescription sunglasses fitted.

An optician can also guide you in selecting the sunglasses frames most flattering for your face shape and can explain the various lens color, gradient, mirroring, polarization and other coating options available.

Are expensive sunglasses better?

So are all these budget-friendly sunglasses sold online going to do the important work of protecting your eyes? Or is it necessary to shell out a few hundred bucks to get a decent pair that will a) adequately shield your eyes from the sun and b) look chic? It depends. 

While many people have been doing just fine with “cheap” sunglasses for years, some bargain sunnies don’t make the cut. The key is making sure the lenses offer embedded UV protection (the label or product description should let you know, but when in doubt, ask an optician).

Regardless of expense, if your sunglasses don’t protect your eyes from the sun, you’ll want to pass on them and find a better option. 

Which sunglasses brand is best?

So, what does the expensive vs. cheap dilemma mean for an individual shopping for the best sunglasses within their own budget? Well, it really just means there are a ton of excellent brands out there at a variety of price points. The best sunglasses brand is the brand that best meets your needs. 

SEE RELATED: Top 10 sunglasses brands

Where (and when) NOT to buy sunglasses?

We’ve covered the best places to buy sunglasses, but there are also a few places (and times) when it’s best not to buy your next pair. 

Where, you ask? When you’re flying to a beach vacation, don’t wait to buy your sunglasses at the airport. Buying sunglasses while you wait for a flight often means you’ll pay airport prices for your cool-looking shades. 

And make sure to pack your sunglasses in your carry-on — if your luggage goes missing or arrives late, a hotel or resort gift shop is not one of the best places to buy sunglasses. You’ll pay more for your sun protection and you’ll have little selection. 

Pro tip: Plan ahead and save. Shop online or in your favorite sunglasses store. You’ll pay less for your sunnies and have more choices.

What to know before you buy sunglasses

Where you buy your sunglasses is less important than what you buy. It’s crucial to choose eyewear that offers maximum protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

Look for sunglasses labeled “100% protection against UV 400” or “100% protection against UVA and UVB rays” to be sure that you’re buying a pair that will protect the health of your eyes.

Be careful about buying sunglasses secondhand or at exceptionally low prices. Often less expensive sunglasses contain lesser-quality lenses, which can cause eye strain and headaches. Plus, they may be missing the all-important element of 100% UV protection.

Also, the lenses of these rock-bottom price sunglasses may not offer the same shatter resistance as authentic name-brand sunglasses, which means you could get a severe eye injury from having a minor accident while wearing them.

Fun facts about who and how often people buy sunglasses

Only 8.3% of plano sunglasses (those without prescription lenses) were purchased online in 2019. But as people become increasingly comfortable with all types of e-commerce, that percentage is expected to skyrocket. It is also becoming increasingly easier to buy specialty products like prescription sun- and eyeglasses online.

And the global sunglasses market is booming: People spent more than $9 billion on sunglasses in 2021. In the same study, forecasters predict global spending on sunglasses will reach over $14 billion annually by 2027.

Globally, who buys the most sunglasses?

Americans love their shades. People in the United States spend more than twice as much on sunglasses (over $4 million in 2021) as the Chinese, who are currently the second-biggest sunglasses buyers ($1.8 million in the same year).

Brazil comes in third, and India ranks fourth. 

How often do Americans buy sunglasses?

The majority of American consumers purchase one or more pairs of sunglasses every year. Roughly 55% of adults in the U.S. misplace or break their sunglasses annually. Most of these sunglasses are lost in the car.

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