Can cheap sunglasses harm my eyes?

Can cheap sunglasses harm my eyes?
Can cheap sunglasses harm my eyes?
Photo Credit: andykatz /


  1. Sunglasses make your pupils dilate more.
  2. Non-UV protecting sunglasses can harm your eyes.
  3. UV radiation can cause ocular cancers and vision loss.
  4. Invest in good UV protecting sunglasses.

There are many reasons we wear sunglasses; fashion and chicness aside, sunglasses are indispensable in getting the sun’s glare out of our eyes. But does the type of sunglasses matter?

There are many sunglasses stalls almost everywhere we look. One day, while walking through the alleys of Connaught Place, I watched some teenagers bargain with one of such sellers. At the end of the sale, two boys and three girls were rocking new Ray-Bans that they had acquired for less than $2 each. It is easy to be swayed by the promise of fake labels; it is no easy feat to wear Ray-Bans, or Gucci sunglasses. But are these cheap knockoffs doing more than good?

How does Sunglasses Affect Our Eye Responses?

The pupils are apertures that control the amount of light that enters your eye. On a sunny day, your pupils constrict to let in less light. When you wear sunglasses, your pupils constrict less than they normally would, this is because the pupils assume that you are in a darker environment. Since they constrict less, they let more light into your eyes.

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Putting on sunglasses relaxes your pupil and allows it to open more. If your sunglasses were bought as cheap knockoffs on the roadside, they will probably reduce visible light due to their tint, but will not reduce the UV waves penetrating the glasses. This means that cheap sunglasses open up your pupils and expose your eyes to more UVA and UVB rays than if you had just gone out without sunglasses.

What are the dangers of Ultraviolet(UV) Radiation to the Eyes?

Wearing sunglasses causes our pupils to relax and dilate, they therefore, allow more light to enter our eyes. Increased UVA and UVB exposure increases the risk of acquiring cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and ocular cancers, specifically ocular melanoma.

UV radiation can also cause growths of tiny lumps on your cornea, it can cause corneal inflammation that eventually leads to vision loss. Another type of radiation, High-energy visible radiation, are even more dangerous than UV waves, because they go deeper into the eye and can cause retinal damage.

When are my Eyes Most Susceptible to Injury?

There are certain times and conditions, when UV radiation is higher. At these times, you should try to protect your eyes with good sunglasses that offer UV protection.

  • Higher altitudes have higher radiation levels like mountains and hills.
  • Extreme heat, dusty and windy conditions, like those found in desert conditions.
  • Sunlight reflective surfaces like snow covered areas, wide sandy beaches.
  • UV radiation is higher from 10am – 3pm.

What Should I do?

UV protection is conferred to the sunglasses by dipping the lenses in a special solution. This means that you don’t have to buy expensive designer labels to get good sunglasses, you can find some good ones in nearby stores, pharmacies and optical stores.

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UV-blocking contact lenses only protect the pupils and not the surrounding eye tissues, hence, such contact lens wearers also need good sunglasses. Parents should seek to protect their children’s eyes as children are even more susceptible to UV injury.

Investing in good sunglasses is the cheaper and better option in the long run. To protect your eyes, it is best not to buy cheap knockoffs all in the name of fame, but rather to purchase good UV-protecting sunglasses.