The best Ray-Ban sunglasses
Since their inception in 1936, Ray-Ban sunglasses have become a cultural phenomenon across the globe, reigning as the world’s most popular luxury brand. Its best-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. In addition to the familiar styles designed for men and women, Ray-Bans are recognizable by their higher than average prices, especially compared to the cheaper shades sold in department stores and gas stations.
If you’re on the hunt for a new pair of sunglasses this summer, a trendy pair of Ray-Ban’s are also a big investment, but are they really worth it?
What to know before buying Ray-Ban sunglasses
Ray-Ban sunglasses have a long and rich history in the United States, beginning with their development by the US Army Air Corps and eyewear manufacturer Bausch & Lomb in 1929. Named after its wearers, the Aviator was originally designed to reduce glare and prevent fogging, two of the many distractions that fighter pilots might encounter. What began as military equipment quickly gained commercial success in the United States, in part thanks to General Douglas MacArthur’s war photos during and after World War II.
In the 1950s, B&L expanded the Ray-Ban line with its other most recognizable style, the Wayfarer, which was quickly adopted by cultural icons like Bob Dylan and James Dean. In addition to their pop appeal, the Ray-Bans have attracted wearers with their high-quality frames and state-of-the-art eye protection. The line was sold to Italian eyewear giant Luxottica in 1999, and Ray-Ban remains the world’s most popular sunglasses brand.
Cultural touchstones aside, 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 diseases later in life. For adequate protection, the AOA recommends wearing sunglasses that block UV rays as much as possible, in addition to reducing visible light and eliminating visual distortions. Fortunately, all Ray-Ban lenses provide 100% protection against the harmful UV rays that your eyes absorb when wearing the sunglasses.
Genuine Ray-Ban G-15 solid green lenses absorb 85% of visible light, effectively block some glare, and remain popular almost 100 years after their innovation. Blue, brown and gray gradient lenses are also popular, which go from a solid color at the top to a sheer finish at the bottom. They are 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 which greatly reduce glare. Polarized lenses do not provide any additional protection against UV rays, but they are particularly useful when driving or near water. Mirrored lenses offer similar prevention of glare, and some pairs from Ray-Ban offer a combination of both lens characteristics, providing maximum protection from the sun.
Construction and functionality
Ray-Ban offers a high functionality factor with most of its tints, relieving 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 people with poor vision and various eye conditions. The brand offers features for everyone, regardless of their visual needs.
The Ray-Bans are also well constructed from high quality materials and designed 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 larger budgets. Like many eyewear, the most common frame material for Ray-Bans is cellulose acetate, a durable, lightweight and hypoallergenic synthetic plastic. Plus, each pair of Ray-Ban comes with a carrying case to help users protect their investment and hopefully keep them from losing their expensive sunglasses.
Ray-Bans did not become the first name in protective eyewear just for their quality and functionality; they 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 retro chic look that never goes out of style, while the new Jack styling pays homage to the round and hexagonal models that were popular in the 1960s and 1970s. Icons like Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, John Lennon and Michael Jackson have all made an impact wearing Ray-Ban classics, enshrining the Aviator, Wayfarer and the rest in the pantheon of shades.
Are Ray-Ban Sunglasses Worth It?
For all their practical benefits and classic, fashionable styles, Ray-Ban sunglasses are worth the investment. Inexpensive sunglasses are a great option for trying out new styles, but at the end of the day, if you want a pair of sunglasses that look great and protect your eyes, the Ray-Bans can’t be beat.
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Matt Fleming written for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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