Why are sunglasses expensive?

Why are sunglasses expensive? We'll let you in on a little secret... they don't need to be. And if you're wondering why, here's a hint: Because adventure. Expensive shades get lost every single day, and many for no good reason.

Why is the sun so bright? I thought. And that's when the feeling hit me in the gut. Because my sunglasses are at the bottom of the ocean now and not on my face. I flailed around trying to find the pair of Oakley's that had cost me over $150 dollars. And just like that, they were gone.

Anyone who's spent significant time outdoors knows the pain of shattered lenses, broken arms, or sinking sunglasses. Just ask the Shadeslayer (aka the Wandering Sasquatch) who writes on his blog that "I have such an affinity for consuming sunglasses that it might have its own budget soon. I have lost sunglasses on buses, in the ocean, and even had a pair break in half for no apparent reason while on my face."

Why are sunglasses expensive

Photo by The Wadnering Sasquatch // Number of sunglasses I have gone through: 11

For an active person, lost or broken sunglasses are inevitable and an expensive pair can quickly become a liability. But a cheap pair can be annoying, or worse, contribute to an eye injury or damage. Here's a quick rundown of features that you may (or may not) need.

1) UV Protection

Just like you wear sunscreen at the beach, sunglasses with UV Protection protect your eyes from the damaging effects of the sun. According to the Mayo Clinic "UV radiation from the sun can damage not only the skin of your eyelid but also the cornea, lens and other parts of the eye. UV exposure also contributes to the development of certain types of cataracts and possibly macular degeneration."

Look for Complete UVA/UVB Protection

Choose sunglasses that provide full protection against ultraviolet light. Look for a label or a sticker that says one or more of the following:

  • Lenses block 99% or 100% of UVB and UVA rays
  • Lenses meet ANSI Z80.3 blocking requirements. (This refers to standards set by the American National Standards Institute.)
  • UV 400 protection. (These block light rays with wavelengths up to 400 nanometers, which means that your eyes are shielded from even the tiniest UV rays.)

SHAMELESS PLUG: Rheos sunglasses are designed with full UV400 protection and exceed ANSI standards in order to protect your eyes while you're enjoying the outdoors.

2) Polarization

This is actually the feature that causes the most confusion in the outdoor community. Polarized lenses reduce glare by filtering out the reflected sunlight that bounces off surfaces like water or pavement. They’re a good option for individuals who are on water for a majority of the day since they can cut down on glare from flat, smooth surfaces.

The downside: Polarized lenses can add unneeded cost to your pair of shades. Or can they? We have developed a lens that is of the highest quality (we have a sure-fire way to test the quality of your lenses coming soon).

Be aware that polarization has nothing to do with UV protection. Most of our customers actually mean UV protection when they ask about polarization.

3) Durability

Sunglasses that break easily or shatter can damage your face and eyes if you take a mean spill or get hit in the face by, say, a ball or a tree branch. Sunglasses that are durable and flexible will be your best bet to surviving a crash, but we hope that doesn't happen.

Rheos sunglasses are super-durable and manufactured to take a hit without breaking.

4) Fit Matters

Sunglass frames should fit snugly on your nose and ears without pinching or rubbing. You'll likely be wearing them all day, so make sure they don't slip off your nose or pinch too tightly around the temples, areas that can be particularly problematic.

Fit is one of the things Rheos has focused on most. We've test our glasses with hundreds of people and refined the fit in order to address the most important aspects of eyewear and fit.


For a limited time, get 10% off your next pair of Rheos shades with discount code "waterjunky10" and start getting out and getting dirty. Rheos is happy to celebrate the outdoors and the amazing ways it can transform the human experience. Grab a pair, share the code with friends, and #lookaround.