Shady Business of Substandard Shades

June 21, 2016

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By: Shahid Wafa

It was another summer day in Lahore; humid, hot and sunny. I had to visit various places for work related assignments; it was going to be a very hectic day for me. As usual I had my wallet, mobile, its charger and pen with me as well as my shades.

First, I decided to go to my friend’s office which is a 20 minutes drive from my house. I left my place in my car in the oppressive heat with my glasses on.

Shortly I reached my destination, entered my friend’s office, took my glasses off, put them on the table and sat in chair in front of him. He offered me a glass of cold water and appreciated my new sun glasses.

“Wow, new shades—they must be very expensive,” he said looking at them. I asked him to guess its price.

“It must be around four or five thousand rupees,” he replied.

I looked into his eyes and said, “No, just 70 rupees.” 

“What …!” He couldn’t believe it. 

“Where did you buy them?” he asked anxiously. “From a roadside stall in ‘AnarKali’,” I revealed.

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“Oh, so it’s just a copy,” he said. “Yes, but what’s wrong with it?  It’s just like the branded ones and also serves the same purpose,” I reasoned. 

“What purpose? Could you please tell me,” he argued. 

“Well obviously, it protects me from sun rays, provides comfort to my eyes and is also stylish.”

“You are wrong. Your sunglasses serve no such purpose,” he said in a loud voice.

I kept silent almost out of curiosity, waiting for him to elaborate.  

“There are two basic purpose sunglasses serve. First is protecting our eyes from harmful Ultra Violet rays and second is to provide shade to our eyes in the sun. And substandard sun glasses do neither of those,” he explained. 

“Why is that?” I asked in disbelief.

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“Very simple,” he began explaining. “All sunglasses that are sold roadside at cheap rates are basically rejected products of Chinese companies. Pakistani traders buy these at throwaway price in large volumes and sell them at low prices. The original branded ones are a lot more expensive as they are made of high quality materials which are effective and providing protection to our eyes.”

“And, believe it or not, it’s better to wear no sunglasses than wearing substandard ones.” he went on to saying.

I really found this hard to believe. “What do you mean?” I enquired, all surprised.

“When we are not wearing shades, our eyes squint in the sun and this natural defense mechanism restricts the entry of harmful rays in eyes. But when we wear cheap shades, our eyes remain fully open and get affected by the UV rays which pass unhindered, through the glasses of those cheap shades.

“And these sunglasses are also not scratch proof, so when sunrays pass through the scratch or lines on the glass, they become sharp and causes more damage. 

My enthusiasm for my new sunglasses dropped after listening to my friend. After leaving the friend’s office, I fact checked what he had told me and found it all to be true. I even spoke to a qualified optician and an eye specialist on this matter and they confirmed all this information.

I no longer wear cheap sunglasses and neither should you.