Why are quality sunglasses important?
A good pair of sunglasses provides a few functions. They look good on the beach, they shade your eyes on sunny days but, most importantly, they shield your eyes from the sun's harmful ultraviolet light.
Ultraviolet or UV light is the same harmful light that causes sunburn and is linked to skin cancer. It's not only our skin that is succeptible to the damage from the sun; UV light also contributes to various types of damage to the eyes (eg photokeratitis or snow blindness, and various opacities on and within the eyes, including pingueculae, pterygia and cataract).
Amounts of potentially damaging solar UV are greatest at around local noon in mid-summer. They increase as we move towards the equator or to higher altitudes. Sand and snow tend to reflect substantial amounts of UV and hence increase damage risks. Protection is certainly needed during skiing or other activities on snow at high altitudes (particularly during summer) or on beaches, especially when these are near the equator.
So why are fake sunglasses potentially dangerous?
Good quality sunglasses provide protection from UV light. In fact there are rules in place set the make sure all sunglasses sold in the UK meet strict safety standards, and are tested to ensure they comply. Fake sunglasses often do not meet these standards and do not block UV light from reaching our eyes.
When we go from bright light to shade, the pupils of our eyes enlarge. This is a natural reaction that helps us to see better in the dark. When we put on a pair of sunglasses the same reaction takes place; the pupils widen and so make a wider gap for light to enter the eye. Poor quality sunglasses don't block out UV light so this widening of the pupil actually allows more of the UV in to the back of the eyes. Because of this wearing poor quality sunglasses can often be worse for your eyes than wearing no sunglasses at all.
Also think about how and where your sunglasses are made
Quality sunglasses are made from quality materials. This applies to both the lenses (as we've seen above) and the frames themselves. Fake, low quality sunglasses might be made using materials that are potentially harmful and as they are not tested for safety, there is no way of knowing what your are buying.
Also consider that fakes often made in factories that do not respect their worker's rights, health and safety. It might not just be your own health being damaged.
So, how can i tell if my sunglasses are genuine?
The first step to knowing your sunglasses are of the quality you need is to only buy from a reputable dealer.
It is important to check that any sunglasses you buy meet the standards set by the country you live in. If, like most of our customers you, live in the UK check that your purchase meets the British Standard for sunglasses (BS EN 1836:2005): category 2 (20% transmittance) give good protection. All sunglasses so in the UK will also have a CE mark printed on the sunglasses themselves. You can usually find it on the inside arm of the sunglasses.
You can find out more about spotting fake genuine sunglasses on our guide here
Ray-Ban 2140 Original Wayfarer - Gloss Black