How long do sunglasses last?

How Long Do Sunglasses Last? How to Find Out If Yours Have Expired?

Your sunglasses are more than just a fashion statement. They’re your shield against the sun’s glaring rays, especially during those bright summer days.

But have you ever paused and wondered, “How long do sunglasses last?”

In this guide, we’ll delve deep into the world of sunglasses, exploring the crucial role of UV protection, the factors that determine their lifespan, and when it’s time for a fresh pair.

Plus, we’ll share some insider tips to ensure they stay with you for the long haul.

How Long Do Sunglasses Last?

Typically, sunglasses can last anywhere from a few months to several years, but their effectiveness in shielding your eyes from harmful UV rays might change over time. Here’s a breakdown:

  1. Physical Durability: Most sunglasses, especially those of high quality, can remain in good physical condition for many years, sometimes even a decade or more, with proper care. This means the frames stay intact, the lenses remain scratch-free, and the hinges continue to function well.
  2. UV Protection Efficacy: This is where things get a bit more complex. While your sunglasses might look pristine even after several years, their ability to block harmful UV rays can diminish. A notable 2016 study from Brazil suggested that under specific intense conditions, the UV protection offered by sunglasses might degrade in as short as two years. However, this two-year estimate is based on wearing the sunglasses in direct sunlight for two hours every single day. For most people, this level of exposure is quite rare.

In essence, while your sunglasses might physically last for a decade or more, it’s a good idea to evaluate their UV protection every two to three years, especially if they’re frequently used in intense sunlight.

Factors Affecting Sunglasses Lifespan

What determines how long sunglasses last? Let’s delve into the factors that can influence the longevity of your favorite pair of shades.

1. Quality of Materials:

The materials used in making the sunglasses play a significant role. High-quality materials like polycarbonate or glass lenses tend to resist scratches and withstand wear and tear. On the other hand, frames made from durable materials can endure accidental drops and impacts, ensuring your sunglasses stay in good shape for longer.

2. Frequency of Use:

How often you wear your sunglasses can also impact their lifespan. Daily wear can lead to faster wear and tear, increasing the chances of scratches or damage. If you’re someone who sports sunglasses every day, consider rotating between a few pairs to extend their life.

3. Environmental Factors:

External elements like heat, humidity, and prolonged exposure to sunlight can affect your sunglasses. For instance, lenses can fade or discolor when exposed to direct sunlight for extended periods. Similarly, extreme heat or humidity can make sunglasses brittle, leading to easy breakage. Always store your sunglasses in a cool, dry place, preferably in a protective case, to shield them from such environmental factors.

4. Proper Maintenance:

Regular cleaning and proper storage can significantly extend the life of your sunglasses. Using a microfiber cloth or a lens-cleaning solution can keep your lenses clear and free from smudges or dirt. Avoid using harsh chemicals that might damage the lenses or the frame.

Signs That Your Sunglasses Need Replacement

You might have a sentimental attachment to those stylish shades you’ve been rocking for years, but there comes a time when you need to assess if they’re still doing their primary job: protecting your eyes. Here are some telltale signs that it might be time to retire your old pair and invest in a new one:

1. Scratches on the Lenses

Remember, each scratch on your sunglasses is a potential entry point for UV rays. If your lenses are covered in scratches, they’re not offering the protection you think they are. Plus, they can distort your vision, making things appear blurry or unclear.

2. Discoloration of Lenses

Over time, exposure to the sun can cause your sunglasses’ lenses to discolor. This not only affects your vision but can also reduce the effectiveness of UV protection. If your lenses have turned yellowish or any other color, it’s a clear sign they need replacing.

3. Loose or Broken Hinges

If your sunglasses don’t sit right on your face anymore, or if they’re constantly slipping down your nose, it might be due to loose or broken hinges. This not only makes them uncomfortable to wear but can also affect how well they protect your eyes from sunlight.

4. Outdated UV Protection

UV protection standards and technology can evolve. If you’ve been holding onto the same pair of sunglasses for many years, they might not meet current protection standards. Remember, adequate UV protection is crucial for eye health.

5. They’re Out of Style

While this isn’t related to protection, fashion is a big reason many of us wear sunglasses. If your shades look like they belong in a decade long past, and you feel they don’t match your current style, it might be time for an upgrade.

6. Distorted Vision

If objects appear warped or bent when viewed through your sunglasses, the lenses might be damaged or of poor quality. Distorted vision can strain your eyes and even lead to headaches.

Tips for Extending the Lifespan of Your Sunglasses

So, you’ve invested in a great pair of sunglasses, and you want them to last. After all, a good pair not only complements your style but also ensures your eyes are protected from harmful UV rays. Here’s how you can extend the life of your beloved shades:

1. Handle with Care

It might sound basic, but always grasp your sunglasses by the frame, not the lenses. This reduces the risk of smudging or scratching them. When removing your sunglasses, use both hands to keep the frame from bending or breaking.

2. Clean Them Properly

Use a microfiber cloth to wipe your lenses. Avoid using tissues, paper towels, or the hem of your shirt, as these can scratch the lenses. For a deeper clean, use lukewarm water and a tiny drop of dish soap, then pat dry with a soft cloth.

3. Invest in a Sturdy Case

A good case protects your sunglasses from getting crushed in your bag or scratched by keys and other items. Always store them in their case when not in use.

4. Avoid Extreme Temperatures

Leaving your sunglasses on the dashboard of your car on a hot day or in other areas with extreme temperatures can warp the frame and damage the lenses. Always store them in a cool, dry place.

5. Rotate Between Pairs

If you have multiple pairs of sunglasses, rotate wearing them. This not only gives each pair a break, reducing wear and tear, but also lets you enjoy different styles.

6. Regularly Check the Screws

The tiny screws on your sunglasses can become loose over time. Periodically give them a gentle tighten with a small screwdriver to ensure your sunglasses remain in good shape.

7. Avoid Saltwater and Chemicals

If you’re heading to the beach or pool, remember that saltwater and chlorine can damage your sunglasses’ coating. Rinse them with fresh water after exposure.

8. Use a Neck Strap

If you’re prone to dropping your sunglasses or taking them on and off frequently, consider using a neck strap. It keeps them secure and reduces the risk of accidental drops.

How to Choose the Right Sunglasses

Choosing the right sunglasses is more than just a fashion decision; it’s a matter of health and comfort. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to decide which pair is the best fit for you. Here’s a guide to help you make an informed choice:

1. Prioritize UV Protection

The primary purpose of sunglasses is to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. Prolonged exposure to these rays can lead to conditions like cataracts and skin cancer of the eyelid. When shopping, look for sunglasses labeled with “100% UV protection” or “UV400”.

This means they block both UVA and UVB rays. Remember, as revealed in the video, price doesn’t always correlate with UV protection. Both affordable and high-end sunglasses can offer excellent protection.

It’s worth noting that many budget-friendly sunglasses achieve UV protection through a coating applied to the lens surface. As time goes by, these lenses can accumulate scratches. Each scratch essentially acts as a breach, diminishing the sunglasses’ protective capabilities. These tiny abrasions allow minuscule amounts of UV radiation to reach your eyes.

For long-lasting and effective UV protection, it’s wise to invest in premium sunglasses. These come with UV protection integrated into their scratch-resistant lenses, ensuring consistent shielding from harmful rays.

2. Consider the Fit

A good pair of sunglasses should fit comfortably on your face. They shouldn’t pinch behind your ears or slip down your nose. Additionally, they should sit close enough to your eyes to shield them from all angles, but not so close that your eyelashes touch the lenses.

3. Think About Lens Quality

While UV protection is paramount, lens quality also matters. High-quality lenses can help reduce glare and ensure clearer vision. Polarized lenses, for instance, can reduce glare from reflective surfaces, making them a great choice for driving or water activities.

4. Choose the Right Style for Your Face Shape

Sunglasses come in various styles, from aviators to cat eyes. The shape of your face can guide you to frames that complement your features. For example, if you have a round face, square or rectangular frames might be most flattering.

5. Don’t Be Fooled by Tint

Darker lenses don’t necessarily provide better UV protection. The tint of the lens is a separate feature from UV protection. However, be cautious with sunglasses that have a dark tint but lack UV protection. As mentioned in the video, they can cause your pupils to dilate, allowing in more harmful rays.

6. Test Them Out

If possible, try sunglasses on before purchasing. Walk outside and see how they handle sunlight. Check for any distortions in vision, and ensure they reduce glare to a comfortable level.

7. Check for Additional Features

Some sunglasses come with added features like anti-reflective coatings or gradient tints. Depending on your needs, these might be beneficial. For instance, if you’re into sports, you might want shatterproof lenses.

8. Get Them Tested

If you’re unsure about the UV protection level of your sunglasses, get them tested. Many eyeglass shops or eye doctors can test them using a photometer. This ensures you’re genuinely getting the protection you need.

How to Test Your Sunglasses UV Protection at Home

Protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays is crucial, and while many sunglasses claim to offer UV protection, how can you be sure?

Here’s a simple method you can try at home to check the UV protection of your sunglasses:

Materials Needed:

  • A UV flashlight (easily available from Amazon)
  • A currency note or a credit card with a UV watermark
  • Your sunglasses


  1. Find a UV Marker: First, you need something that reacts to UV light. Many currency notes and some credit cards have UV watermarks that are invisible to the naked eye but glow under UV light.
  2. Darken the Room: For best results, ensure you’re in a dark room or wait until it’s dark outside.
  3. Shine the UV Light: Directly shine the UV flashlight on the currency note or credit card. You should see the UV watermark glowing.
  4. Test Your Sunglasses: Place your sunglasses between the UV flashlight and the currency note or credit card. If the UV watermark still glows the same as before, your sunglasses might not be offering adequate UV protection. However, if the glow is dimmer or completely blocked, your sunglasses are doing their job!

Note: This is a basic test and might not be 100% accurate. The best way to ensure your sunglasses provide proper UV protection is to purchase them from reputable brands or have them tested professionally.

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s address some of the most common queries to give you a clearer perspective about sunglasses lifespan.

Do sunglasses wear out over time?

Yes, sunglasses can wear out over time. Factors like UV coating degradation, scratches on the lenses, and wear and tear on the frames can affect their performance and protection levels.

Can sunglasses last 10 years?

While it’s possible for the physical structure of sunglasses to last 10 years or more, especially if they’re well-made and well-cared for, their UV protection might degrade over time. It’s essential to ensure they still provide adequate UV protection if they’re that old.

How often should I get new sunglasses?

It’s recommended to replace sunglasses every two years, especially if they’re frequently used. However, if they show signs of damage or if the UV protection is compromised, consider replacing them sooner.

How long do Ray Ban sunglasses last?

Ray Ban is a reputable brand known for its quality. With proper care, Ray Ban sunglasses can last many years. However, as with all sunglasses, it’s crucial to regularly check the UV protection levels and replace them if necessary.


In conclusion, sunglasses are more than just a fashion statement. They’re a shield for your eyes. By understanding their lifespan and taking good care of them, you can ensure they serve you well for years to come.

So, when pondering “How long do sunglasses last?”, remember their dual purpose and ensure they’re up to the task.

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