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How to Save on Sunglasses

Find the best prices for shades that block harmful rays

Are $200 designer sunglasses better than $20 generic ones? Not really. Much of that big price tag is for looks and that designer logo on the earpiece.

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Hand holding up sunglasses. How to save.

Designer sunglasses aren't necessarily better than cheap ones. — Alan Powdrill/Getty Images

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that one Italian company makes virtually all the well-known designer sunglasses (including Oakley, Ray-Ban, Burberry and Chanel), and it takes a hefty markup in profit — about 50 cents on the dollar, even after deducting the cost of advertising, overhead and brand licensing royalties.

Consider these four tips to help you save on sunglasses.

1. It’s not the price, it’s the UV protection that’s important. If those two-for-$25 sunglasses at the mall kiosk have a tag saying they protect against 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays, they’ll do just as good a job protecting your eyes as the pair costing 10 times that much at the fancy sunglasses store. If you can pay a little more, get polarized glasses to cut glare.

2. Save on the cost of frames. If you need prescription sunglasses, be aware that frame prices can soar well into the hundreds — especially if you’re paying for that designer logo. Of course you want to look good, but a non-logo frame that’s under $100 will do just as well as a designer one for two or three time that much.

3. Consider where you buy your glasses. The same Italian company that makes all those expensive designer glasses also owns Sunglass Hut, LensCrafters and Pearle Vision, according to the Wall Street Journal’s recent report. A better choice might be membership warehouse chain Costco for discount glasses and frames. When ABC News took a glasses prescription to be filled at a number of well-known discount and eye-wear chains a few years ago, only Costco’s optical department filled it correctly — and for the lowest price.

4. The cheap ones never get lost. Comedian Jeff Foxworthy jokes that cheap sunglasses are impossible to lose; only the expensive ones get misplaced. Plus, if you get cheap sunglasses, you can keep a pair in several locations — car, office, purse, briefcase — so you’ll never go outside without them. And that's the whole point.

Candy Sagon writes about health and nutrition for the Bulletin.

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