How to Tell if Your Sunglasses are Expired

You’re reading that right! Your sunglasses can absolutely expire, which can put your eyes in jeopardy of harmful sun exposure. Learn how you can tell and what you should do. 

Expiration dates are important. They tell us when to throw away spoiled food, replace medicine and vitamins, purchase new makeup, and even re-oil our care engine. Most of us are aware of the typical products that expire as well as how to replace those products. 

Sunglasses are essential to eye health. Sunglasses are not only stylish accessories. They also protect our eyes from UV radiation that can cause irreversible damage to our eyes. 

Your Sunglasses May Not Last as Long as You Think

To adequately protect our eyes, sunglasses are coated with a layer of UV protection. However, with prolonged UV exposure, the coating outside of the lens gets damaged from the rays, making them less effective. 

There is no definitive expiration date on when your sunglasses begin to lose effectiveness since everybody spends a different amount of time in the sun. It depends on the individual. If it’s an everyday pair, they may only last a year or two before needing replacement.

Think of your sunglasses as sunscreen. Sunglasses are just as important to the eyes as sunblock is to the body. One coat of sunscreen will not wear off if you spend all day in the sun. 

Your local eye doctor will be able to test the strength of the UV coating on your lenses. Stop into your eye doctor to ensure you are adequately protecting your eyes. 

At Cohen Eye Associates, we have a lab on-site where we make and cut all of our patients’ lenses. We have instrumentation that can read off the amount of UV left on the lenses. 

Should We Be Spending More Money on Sunglasses?

You can purchase a new pair of lenses at a gas station. Or you can buy a higher-end brand at a specialty store or eye clinic. Obviously one will be considerably more expensive than the other one. But does the expense pay off when it comes to protecting your eyes? 

Not necessarily 

It doesn’t matter if your lenses are a designer brand or five dollars. It doesn’t necessarily matter if the lenses are made of glass or plastic. The UV protection is just a coating and a clear one at that. You can even get a UV coating on your normal eyeglasses. It doesn’t have to be expensive.

Does the Tint of your Sunglasses Matter?

The darkness or tint of your lenses is another dangerous misconception. The color or degree of darkness in your glasses has actually nothing to do with UV protection. If the lenses do not have a UV coating, they are simply not protecting your eyes. 

In fact, tinted sunglasses without UV protection can actually be more damaging to your eye. The darker environment causes our eyes to dilate, which exposes them to even more UV radiation than clear lenses.

Buying a New Pair of Sunglasses? Check out These Tips

To make sure your eyes are as protected as possible, follow this checklist when buying your next pair of lenses:

  • When purchasing a new pair of frames, make sure your sunglasses state they block 99-100% of UV Light. Check for this label or a similar one that states UV 400. 
  • Larger frames and wrap around styles protect eyes at all angles. 
  • Polarized lenses do not block UV light
  • The color and darkness of the lens do not affect how well it protects for UV rays. 

Don’t Forget About Your Children

Almost half of a person’s lifetime exposure to UV happens before the age of 18. Children and teen’s eyes are extremely sensitive to UV rays. 


Cohen Eye Associates


Cohen Eye Associates is a premier eye clinic serving the Downtown Houston community since 1949. To schedule your next comprehensive eye exam, click here or call (713)-658-8301. We have an extensive sunglasses collection with luxury brands such as Lindberg and Tom Ford.