The best Ray-Ban sunglasses
Since their creation in 1936, Ray-Ban sunglasses have become a cultural phenomenon across the globe, reigning as the world’s most popular luxury brand of its kind. Its most well-known models, the Aviator and Wayfarer, are iconic accessories worn by everyone from fighter pilots to movie stars — and even the president of the United States. Along with familiar styles made for men and women, Ray-Bans are recognizable by their higher-than-average price tags, especially compared to the cheaper shades sold in department stores and gas stations.
If you’re looking for a new pair of sunglasses this summer, a hip pair of Ray-Bans is also a significant investment, but are they actually worth the money?
What to know before you buy Ray-Ban sunglasses
Ray-Ban sunglasses have a long and storied history in the United States, starting with their development by the U.S. Army Air Corps and eyeglasses manufacturer Bausch & Lomb in 1929. Named for its intended wearers, the Aviator was initially designed to reduce glare and prevent fogging, both among the many distractions fighter pilots could encounter. What began as military equipment quickly found commercial success stateside, thanks in part to war photos of General Douglas MacArthur during and after World War II.
By the 1950s, B&L expanded the Ray-Ban line with its other most recognizable style, the Wayfarer, which was soon embraced by cultural icons like Bob Dylan and James Dean. In addition to their pop appeal, Ray-Bans attracted wearers with their high-quality frames and cutting-edge eye protection. The line was sold to Italian eyewear giant Luxottica in 1999, and Ray-Ban remains the most popular sunglasses brand in the world.
Aside from the cultural touchstones, Ray-Ban sunglasses are popular for their functionality as protective eyewear. According to the American Optometric Association, excessive exposure to solar radiation over time increases the likelihood of developing cataracts, eye cancer and other ailments in later life. For adequate protection, the AOA recommends wearing sunglasses that block as much UV radiation as possible, in addition to reducing visible light and eliminating visual distortions. Thankfully, all Ray-Ban lenses offer protection from 100% of the harmful ultraviolet radiation your eyes take in while wearing the shades.
The original Ray-Ban G-15 solid green lenses absorb 85% of visible light, effectively block quite a bit of glare and remain popular nearly 100 years after their innovation. Also popular are blue, brown and grey gradient lenses, which fade from a solid color on the top to a transparent finish on the bottom. They’re as fashionable as they are functional and are a great option for road trips and sightseeing.
Most Ray-Bans are also available with polarized lenses that cut reflective glare significantly. Polarized lenses don’t provide any added protection from UV rays, but they’re especially useful when driving or while near water. Mirrored lenses offer similar prevention of reflective glare, and some pairs of Ray-Bans offer a combination of the two lens features, providing maximum protection from the sun.
Construction and functionality
Ray-Ban offers a high functionality factor with most of its shades, easing eye strain and preventing visual distractions like glare — factors that could affect a number of activities, including driving. Ray-Ban also offers prescription lenses in shaded, transparent and transitional styles for folks with poor vision and various eye conditions. The brand offers functionality for everyone, no matter what visual needs they have.
Ray-Bans are also well-constructed from high-quality materials and built to stand the test of time. The frames are made with several different materials that vary in durability and cost, with nylon on the cheaper end and titanium steel for bigger budgets. Like many eyeglasses, the most common frame material for Ray-Bans is cellulose acetate, a synthetic plastic that’s durable, lightweight and hypoallergenic. Also, every pair of Ray-Bans comes with a carrying case to help wearers protect their investment and hopefully prevent them from losing their expensive shades.
Ray-Bans didn’t become the first-name in protective eyewear just for their quality and functionality; they’ve also paved the way for sunglasses as fashion accessories. Although the brand offers sunglasses designed specifically for men or women, their classic styles are universally appealing. The Clubmaster, one of the brand’s “Classic Icons,” has a chic retro feel that never goes out of fashion, while new style Jack pays tribute to the round and hexagonal models that were popular in the 1960s and ‘70s. Icons like Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, John Lennon and Michael Jackson all made an impact while wearing Ray-Ban classics, enshrining the Aviator, Wayfarer and the rest in the shades hall of fame.
Are Ray-Ban sunglasses worth the money?
For all their practical advantages and classic, fashionable styles, Ray-Ban sunglasses are worth the investment. Cheap sunglasses are a great option for trying out new styles, but at the end of the day, if you want a pair of shades that look great and protect your eyes, Ray-Bans can’t be beat.
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Matt Fleming writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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