Sunglasses ...................... Cheap or Expensive?

Sunglasses are an accepted piece of clothing anywhere in the world these days but it was not always the case. Traditionally they were the eye protection of choice for aviators, sportsmen and the well heeled spectacle wearer. This rapidly changed in 1929 when a man called Sam Foster sold the first pair of Foster Grant sunglasses on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. Popularity came very quickly and by the 1930's the sunglass boom was well and truly underway.

By the mid 1960's sunglasses, along with many other types of clothing accessories became very mainstream and very stylish. As manufacturing materials evolved and cheap construction of both lenses and frames was suddenly possible, the sky was the limit for designers. The last forty years have seen an exponential boom in the availability of sunnies to the point where they're available most anywhere in the world and they are very cheap.

Which leads me to the burning question:

Cheap sunnies or Expensive sunnies ?

There are scorching hot arguments for both sides of the coin and whilst some eye protection is better than none, does expensive eye protection offer a much better consumer product or is it all smoke and mirrors ?

Cheap sunglasses that offer U.V. protection can be had for as little as six dollars here in Australia with most polycarbonate lens construction glasses weighing in around the fifteen to twenty dollar mark. They are extremely popular at Petrol Stations where car drivers in particular snap them up. Often cited as the logic behind cheap glasses is the offer of Ultra Violet light protection at a price that makes the glasses truly disposable.

Disposability negates the need to give a "rats arse" about your sunnies. Disposable sunglass wearers are the ones wearing their sunnies in extreme conditions where damage from abrasion, water, impact or loss is high and the care factor is low. The argument for cheap eye-wear becomes a lot stronger when viewed from this angle, especially when coupled with the fact that for U.V. protection performance the cheap glasses can often mix it with their way more expensive brethren.

So what is it exactly that expensive sunglasses offer the wearer?

Several things actually, ranging from exclusivity, style, advanced materials construction, polarized multi layer optical glass lenses, prestige and comfort. Expensive glasses are undoubtedly kinder to your eyes and often kinder to your face as the frames are made using the same technology thats used for high end spectacles. Modern frame material ranges from space age high tensile alloys to titanium to composite fibre construction and make no bones about it .... this is cutting edge technology where high tech means high sales.

Lens construction on high end glasses is worthy of an entire chapter on its own with most manufacturers going for multi element construction, often sandwiching upwards of ten or eleven optical layers in their sunglass lenses. The differing layers give the lenses qualities like polarization, impact resistance, glare reduction, optical correctness and U.V. blocking and they're constructed in carefully controlled production environments to ensure the utmost in quality.

Expensive sunglasses are definitely a fashion statement from the well heeled and the media bombards us daily with pictures of everyone from rock stars and sporting champions to fashion models, just to remind us how glamorous you can look in nice clothes and flash sunnies. Many people jump at the chance to at least look stylish and well heeled for the small admission price a pair of good glasses offers.

So back to the question...... Cheap sunglasses or expensive ones?

You could very well ask;

Form or Function ?

Disposability or Longevity ?

The ultimate answer if you can afford to is to own both and keep the good ones for low risk activities like driving and looking good, while not "giving a shit" about the el-cheapo's

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