By Richard Moy, Cheapism.com
A cute, cheap pair of sunglasses is easy enough to find at a street fair or mall kiosk. But budget shades that will fully protect your eyes and stand up to the demands of summer sports? They can be as scarce as sunny days in Alaska. Instead of adding to the pile of busted bargain sunglasses or investing in an expensive pair only to lose them, check out Cheapism's top picks for sunglasses on a budget.
- JiMarti sunglasses are geared toward anyone itching to spend most of the summer outside. They win fans for their wraparound style and overall fit and comfort. Consumers posting reviews online comment that, at times, they forget they're even wearing these sunglasses. The line starts at $13 and stands out with a lifetime breakage warranty.
- Sunbelt sunglasses excel at blocking out the sun without sacrificing fashion, according to online reviews. This brand offers a wide variety of styles, including more than 30 specifically for women. The sunglasses start at $20 and boast a limited lifetime warranty.
- Black Flys sunglasses are also high on style and low on price, starting at $20, and cater especially to surfers, skaters, wakeboarders, and other action-sports enthusiasts. Reviewers particularly admire the durability of these sunglasses, which come with a one-year warranty.
- Nike sunglasses may seem out of place on a list of low-cost sunglasses but can be found online for as little as $30. They come with nifty features such as a vented nosepiece to prevent fogging. In reviews, consumers praise these sunglasses for their precise fit and ability to block out the sun. Various tints help keep everything looking crisp and clear.
All of these brands craft their sunglasses with lenses made of polycarbonate, which is lighter and more durable than regular plastic. JiMarti even markets the lenses as shatterproof and its frames as unbreakable, offering the lifetime warranty to back up those claims. If you're planning a busy summer of sports and adventure travel, durability is a key consideration. Choosing the right pair can save you from continually breaking your sunglasses and having to shell out to replace them.
Many models made by the brands listed above have tinted lenses. While you may like the look of a certain color, it's not just for show. A bright color such as yellow might make the view from behind the lenses more vivid, but it won't render the colors of your surroundings correctly. Experts seem to favor gray tints, which effectively dim bright sunlight while preserving color accuracy.
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While tinted lenses, durable construction, and fashion-forward style are appealing, eye-care professionals will tell you they pale in comparison to the most important feature of any pair of sunglasses: UV protection. Keep your eyes open for sunglasses that come equipped with 100 percent protection from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays. If you come across a pair that are not labeled as such, experts say it's best to avoid them.