14 Cheap, Stylish Sunglasses That Actually Protect Eyes
From convenience stores to mall kiosks, it's easy to find an attractive pair of cheap sunglasses. But sunglasses are more than fashion accessories -- they also protect the eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays. The National Eye Institute warns that long-term exposure can have damaging effects ranging from cataracts and macular degeneration to blindness. Before buying any pair of sunglasses, be sure they're labeled "100 percent UV protection," "maximum UV protection," or "UV400." This indicates that the lenses block all harmful wavelengths, up to 400 nanometers.
These 14 stylish sunglasses for men, women, and children offer the recommended level of protection for less than $35. According American Academy of Ophthalmology, cheap sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection are no less effective than high-end pairs. Many of the sunglasses featured here also have polycarbonate lenses, as opposed to glass, polyurethane, or acrylic, which makes them durable, lightweight, and suitable for physical activity. Wear sunglasses with a wide-brimmed hat for even better protection.
For more great buys on sunglasses, check out these previously reviewed brands:
JiMarti JM01 sunglasses ($23 on Amazon) have been one of Cheapism.com's top picks for a few years now. These wraparound shades, which come in a range of colors and tints, have earned an average of 4.3 stars from almost 900 reviewers. They feature a lifetime breakage warranty on the frame and the lenses, which are made from "shatterproof" polycarbonate.
Men seeking vintage style can check out J. Crew's Retro Frame Sunglasses ($11 on sale from J. Crew Factory). The gold-and-tortoiseshell frames with round, gray lenses are as sharp as a skinny tie out of a "fMad Men" rerun. The tinted lenses not only appeal to fashion-conscious shoppers but also help reduce glare. An optometrist writing for All About Vision recommends a gray tint to reduce overall brightness without distorting colors.
For a dramatic pair of black sunglasses, try Duco classic oversize polarized sunglasses ($25 on Amazon). Metal accents at the temples add flair, and more than 100 customers have rated the sunglasses an average of 4.5 stars. Made from high-quality, impact-resistant materials, they come with a lifetime warranty on the lenses and frames, as well as a 30-day money-back guarantee. The polarized lenses, an uncommon feature in cheap fashion sunglasses, help reduce glare from the sun.
Ray-Bans are still trendy (and expensive) these days. The Johnny Shades Real Wood Bamboo Classic Wayfarer ($25 on sale) is a twist on the traditional style and a step away from a mainstream look. The temples are made from real bamboo and feature heavy-duty hinges for extra durability.
Want to wear readers at the beach to focus on the hottest bestseller? Coppertone Sun Readers (starting at $12.72 from Walmart) are no-frills sunglasses for farsighted sunbathers. Available in strengths from 1.5 to 2.5, the sleek, close-fitting sports frames have bifocal lenses that block 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays.
There aren't many styles as sassy as the cat eye. Merry's cat-eye sunglasses ($15.68 on Amazon) give the classic frame a modern twist with mirrored lenses, a streamlined metal frame, and an edgy bar across the top. The sunglasses come in six frame and lens combinations.
For lightweight sports sunglasses, consider a rimless style from J+S Vision ($15 on Amazon). These sunglasses have adjustable silicone nose pads and scratch-resistant, polarized lenses, making them a good choice for driving or any outdoor activity that might be hampered by glare from the sun. J+S offers a one-year warranty on the frames and lenses, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends oversize sunglasses to keep UV rays from reaching the eyes from the side. ATTCL 2016 Oversize Sunglasses ($17 on Amazon) cover most of the face for added UV protection. The large polycarbonate lenses are shatterproof and polarized. Pair these dramatic sunglasses with a favorite polka-dot dress and pearls for vintage style.
For active women who love to hike and bike, Tifosi Rumor Interchangeable Sunglasses ($32.73 on sale at REI) feature three pairs of polycarbonate lenses designed for different activities. For example, one enhances color contrast to improve the wearer's vision of the trail ahead. The heavy-duty nylon frames are designed to be strong yet flexible.
Sun protection for kids doesn't stop with the skin. Real Kids Shades Surf Sunglasses ($13 at Buy Buy Baby) feature mirrored, polycarbonate lenses and an allegedly unbreakable Wayfarer-style frame. These sunglasses fit children 2 to 4 years old and come in a variety of colors. The manufacturer offers a one-year warranty.
To protect the sensitive eyes of babies and toddlers, try Koala Kids Wrap Sunglasses ($7 at Toys R Us). They have a soft, foam strap that can be adjusted to fit snugly around the baby's head. In addition to offering 100 percent UVA and UVB protection, the sunglasses are guaranteed to make your baby look very hip.