Pricey vs. Cheap: Do Designer Sunglasses Provide Better UV Protection Than Cheaper Shades?

Can cheaper sunglasses offer the same protection as designer shades?

ByABC News
September 8, 2014, 7:01 AM
Do cheap sunglasses protect your eyes as well as pricier designer ones do?
Do cheap sunglasses protect your eyes as well as pricier designer ones do?
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— -- Designer sunglasses are the epitome of cool. They look good and promise to block 100 percent of UV rays, but how do cheaper sunglasses compare? Do they provide less protection than their designer counterparts?

Dr. Dennis Fong, a professor at the School of Optometry at the University of California, Berkeley, says UV light can cause an onset of cataracts, macular degeneration and even growths on the cornea.

"Ultraviolet light will age your eye faster," Fong told ABC News.

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To see if cheaper sunglasses can protect against the vision issues Fong detailed, "GMA" bought 11 cheaper sunglasses -- from mall kiosks, pharmacies, mainstream fashion stores and even street vendors. Most of the shades cost about $10, but none was more than $20.

All the glasses claimed to block 100 percent of UV rays.

"GMA" also bought sunglasses from Coach, Ray-Ban and Smith, each of which cost well over $100.

"GMA" took all the glasses -- the cheaper and pricey ones -- to Fong, who used a spectrophotometer to measure the UV light going through the lenses.

First, he tested the expensive glasses, finding that they all block transmission of UVA and UVB rays, providing 100 percent UV protection.

Then he tested the cheaper glasses. The 11 pairs of discount glasses that "GMA" bought performed just as well as the more expensive pairs, Fong said, after measuring the UV light passing through the lenses with the spectrophotometer.

So what do people get when they spend a lot of money of sunglasses?

Fong explained that pricier glasses often do have more durable frames, higher-end design and a more comfortable fit.