£2.50 or £250 – Are All Sunglasses Really Just As Good?

Well the short answer is… yes and no!  (I can hear the collective groan already…)  The longer answer is much more helpful but involves a little bit more explaining – carry on reading and all will become clear!

Where cost is a big concern, I would rather you wear sunglasses than not as UV protection is really important for everyone (especially kids).  If you want something that just does the very basics – cutting down the light entering your eye and providing some UV protection – then any sunglasses you can buy will do the job as long as they carry the CE mark (to prove they meet basic safety requirements).  If they aren’t CE marked please don’t wear them – wearing a tinted lens without UV protection is more dangerous than wearing no sunglasses at all and actually vastly increases the amount of UV entering (and damaging) the eye!

Whilst a CE mark is a great start, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting 100% protection or that the glasses will be the right thing for your eyes.  This article  by the Daily Mail looked at several pairs of sunglasses bought on the high street – some were great and some quite worrying.

How else can I make sure they’re ok?

It’s important to make sure that sunglasses fit you well so you’re benefitting from wrap-round protection with minimal light getting in round the edges.  When we’re dispensing sunglasses we look carefully at the fit to make sure they’re going to stay in the right place and provide maximum coverage.

It’s also important to make sure that the lenses have been made to a good standard – it’s not uncommon for mass-produced sunglasses to have a slight strength to the lens, which can lead to headaches and eyestrain.  I remember a pair I had a few years ago, where if I looked through the bottom of the lens I could literally see my feet twice due to the displaced image the lenses were giving me!  Make sure the lenses aren’t scratched as again, this will make the UV protection ineffective.

Try and get a pair that give you a comfortable level of tint.  As well as the darkness or ‘depth’ of tint, consider how well you’re seeing colours – basic lenses tend to be made from a single, block colour which can give you a false impression of your surroundings.

How can I cut down glare?

We really recommend polarised lenses for more comfortable, clear vision, especially if you drive or do any hobbies involving reflective surfaces (water, snow etc.).  They dramatically reduce glare and have been shown to improve stopping distances, making driving safer, because it’s that much easier to see without all that reflected light around!

What else can sunglasses do for me?

If you want something a bit better, there are many features which can help make sunglasses super-comfortable and even more effective to give you really clear, crisp vision, whether for sports or for day-to-day wear.

Sports and hobbies often require lightweight, impact resistant frames and lenses – I’ve found my Sunwise frames to be amazingly comfortable for mountaineering and cycling, and can just put them on in the morning and forget about them for the rest of the day!  The Chromafusion lenses are polarised and adapt to different lighting conditions too – there are lots of different tints, and even interchangeable lenses so they can be worn for different activities.  I think they were only about £65 and I really wouldn’t be without them (you really don’t have to spend a fortune for great products!).

Optical quality lenses are guaranteed to be made to the correct strength – whether they’re prescription or off-the-shelf they’re precision-engineered to a specific ‘power’ or prescription – that’s why sunglasses in opticians are generally dearer than the high street versions.  As with most things the more they are, the better they’re likely to be in our experience.

In our very best quality sunglasses (the fabulous Maui Jim range), lenses can now even be engineered to give you your full prescription at every point on the lens, giving amazing clarity.  They have also incorporated 100% UVA, UVB & UVC protection, the best polarisation on the market, and use bi-gradient mirror technology to make the lenses ‘squint’ for you!  Their lenses incorporate three rare earth elements to perfectly balance and neutralise colours, giving mind-blowing colour (I have honestly never seen trees look so green!).  On top of this their lenses are waterproof, anti-reflective and scratch-resistant – so you can see why they may be a little more pricey than the average high street pair!  They really are a worthwhile investment if you’re looking for the very best.

So we don’t mind what you choose – above all please make sure you use CE marked sunglasses for any prolonged periods outdoors.  If you’d like any more advice or to get an idea of our full range of sunglasses, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!  We look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks for reading, see you soon.

Abi Carpenter


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