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Think Twice Before You Buy Those Cheap Sunglasses

With summer here, it’s time for one of the indisputable laws of the universe to kick in: the more expensive your sunglasses are, the more likely you are to lose them. If you’re prone to plunking your sunglasses in the lake and think it’s better to buy cheap ones instead, think again. Step away from the spinning rack at your local convenience store and take a second to consider the consequences.

The whole reason you’re looking at $6.99 aviators in the first place is because it’s bright outside. But those premature wrinkles from squinting all day under visible light isn’t the biggest threat to your eyes; it’s the invisible ultraviolet (UV) light that will hurt you, and you need sunglasses with built-in UV protection to safeguard your eyes. UV light is responsible for burning your winter-pale skin to a crisp, so you can imagine the effect such a burn might have on your un-sunscreen-able eyeballs. Plus, UV rays can damage other parts of the eye and even contribute to cataracts and macular degeneration.

While super-dark shades might offer some protection against the obviously sunny day, if they are on a 2-for-1 deal alongside the beef sticks at the checkout line, they might not offer the 99 or 100 percent protection against UVA and UVB rays that eyecare professionals recommend.

Suppose you’re at the Cadillac of gas stations, though, and those $12 Don Draper-style sunnies boast 100 percent UV protection. Jackpot! Not so fast, mad man. Another trait to look for in sunglasses is durability. Premium sunwear have impact resistance features that keep the lenses from breaking in a way that could endanger your eyes should a big impact occur.

Other considerations when it comes to purchasing sunglasses for your summer adventures is quality of optics — ask your golfing buddies to read a green when the middle of the lens has a wave like the North Shore of Oahu. And also consider the option of polarization. Never had polarized shades before? Get ready for a revelation, especially on the water. The lens technology blocks out a certain kind of reflected light that cuts glare and haze to make for a much more pleasant experience on the lake or the road (two spots where such reflected light waves are common).

On a lighter note, if you opt for mirrored sunglasses you always stand the chance of being mistaken for a big Hollywood star, or at least be able to watch a good-looking reveler walk by without getting a smack from your significant other.