Cheap sunglasses may do more harm than good

By Annastazia Camarena

They hide the dark circles under your eyes and they come in many shapes, designs and sizes–who doesn’t love sunglasses? However, before you buy cheap but fashionable sunglasses, think about your eyes.

Cheap sunglasses may seem like the reasonable choice because we all have broken or lost our pair of sunglasses at some point. But for the health of your eyes you should be willing to pay for a good pair of shades.

It may seem like no big deal: You buy a sweet pair at a street vendor to go with your outfit and the sunglasses won’t make you squint as much, but they do not protect your eyes. The sole purpose of sunglasses is to protect your precious pupils from the sun’s harmful rays. When the sun is up and shining on us, it is emitting ultraviolet rays (UVA and UVB). These rays can be very harmful for your corneas and retinas and cause damage without proper protection.

“…Wearing poor-quality or unrated sunglasses can be worse than wearing none at all because the darkened lenses allow the pupils to dilate while doing nothing to block UV rays,” said Dr. Jeff Pinkerton, an optometrist at Insight Eyecare, according to

Naturally, your iris will close after receiving too much light and then you will squint in an attempt to protect your pupils. If you are wearing sunglasses with dark tints that only block the glare in visible light, your pupils will dilate, letting in these harmful UV rays. Now, consider the amount of UV rays that can harm your eyes from a whole day out in the sun.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), that exposure to UVA and UVB rays on your dilated pupils may increase the risk for cataracts, Photokeratitis (Snow Blindness), Pterygium (abnormal non-cancerous growths), and skin cancer around the eyelids.

Now, it is not like wearing cheap sunglasses will cause you to lose your vision.

If you get sunglasses, ensure they have UV protection labels and are polarized so the overwhelming glare of snow and water won’t damage your retinas. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends buying a pair with all UV protection, a wide-brimmed hat, and if you wear contacts, UV-blocking contact lenses.

While I don’t recommend buying designer brand sunglasses on a college budget, I do encourage saving a little money up and treating your eyes to a nice pair of sunglasses, because safety can be stylish, too.