Rock band ZZ Top once famously recommended that everyone “buy some shades or cheap sunglasses,” but will you risk your eye health if you follow their advice?

As a matter of fact, the answer is often “YES!” While there are plenty of options for safe and affordable sunglasses, the cheapest ones you can find will actually do very little to protect your eyes from the sun.


Sometimes, cheap sunglasses may even be more damaging to your eyes than wearing no sunglasses at all especially in Phoenix, Arizona.

Protecting Your Family’s Eye Health With Quality Sunglasses

A good set of sunglasses protects your eyes in two different ways:

  1. The dark lenses, of course, reduce glare and make it easier to see in bright sunlight.
  2. A layer of UV-reflective coating prevents damage from ultraviolet light.

The issue is that cheap sunglasses, of the type you might find in a Dollar Store, rarely have that second protective measure. Dark lenses, by themselves, do nothing at all to block UV light, especially the harmful “UVB” rays which cause melanoma and other skin cancers.

According to experts, too much UVB exposure can cause numerous eye health issues, such as cataracts, glaucoma, or potentially even worse problems like retinal detachment.

The reason cheap sunglasses can increase the chances of this happening is that wearing them usually causes your pupils to dilate. In bright Arizona sunlight, a healthy pupil becomes a pinprick, as small as half a millimeter, which vastly reduces how much UV radiation enters the eye. With dark sunglasses, your pupils open up more, allowing more UV in.

UV Coating Shields Your Eyes From Damage

So, when shopping for sunglasses in Phoenix, be sure to purchase sunglasses that have guaranteed protection against UV rays, especially UVB. Otherwise, they may be doing more harm than good, and ultimately endanger your family’s eye health.