Actually, I have a specific question, but I’ll just make this a general Sunglasses thread.

I love my shades. I have two pair of Ray-Ban Aviators with grey/green lenses, one pair I got in- or just after high school with Ambermatic lenses, my old ones from the '80s that have the lenses replaced with variable-density prescription lenses, and my latest prescription glasses – also with auto-darkening lenses – that I ordered in Ray-Ban Aviator frames. I have a pair of Outdoorsman glasses, which are like Aviators except they have a brow bar and wrap-around earpieces. (I had those replaced with the regular style because they were tearing up the backs of me ears.) Two pair of Ray-Ban Caravans; one of which I got I-don’t-know-where and are well-used, and the other, like-new one I ‘inherited’ from my late-mother’s late-husband. (Yeah, Dead Man’s Glasses. How cool is that? :cool: ) I keep my 1980s Wayfarers in my car. I’ve got a bunch of ultra-cheap sunglasses that I got ‘free on the Internet’ in the late-'90s. Thought I might use them for characters in films. And then there are the HGU-4/Ps.

These are the small, square-lens glasses issued to military pilots. I have three pair of them. One will never be worn. Dad was issued them in the FAA, and they’re still in their plain brown box. Last year I broke a lens on the pair I wore all the time. I finally decided to find replacement lenses (‘finally’, because I have plenty of other glasses to wear – when I actually can wear glasses up here in Rainland) and bought a pair of Randolph Engineering ones since I thought that was the brand I’d been wearing. Turns out they’re American Optical. And that leads to my question.

Randolph Engineering HGU-4/Ps cost a lot. The cheapest ones I could find in the configuration I favour are just over $100, and I’ve seen them up to $200. American Optical ones sell for forty or fifty bucks. Why the price discrepancy? Both sunglasses must meet government specifications. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had the same NSN. So why are the REs on average three times the price of the AOs? If you are familiar with both brands, which do you prefer, and why?

OK, now that my specific question is out of the way, talk about sunglasses in general!

I like nice sunglasses, particularly ones with good lenses. I’ve lost a lot of nice pairs of shades over the years. Multiple pairs of Ray-Ban Aviators, including a pair of leather wrapped ones that I absolutely loved, Vuarnets, Revos, Maui Jims and others I’ve forgotten.

I’ve been blessed with good vision, so I’ve never needed prescription glasses, but damn, I can’t stand shitty sunglasses. I mean, Jesus Christ, you wear them on your face, over your eyeballs! If you’re going to wear them at all, I think it’s an accessory worth spending a few bucks on. I don’t think I’ve ever lost a pair in less than a year, so even if I eventually lose them, good shades are worth it to me.

I’ve got a cheap pair of Bolle that I don’t wear often and a cheap pair of Polar Lens biking shades that I wear when, um, biking. The lenses on both are pretty good for sub-$50 shades. My current everyday is a pair of Ray-Ban rectangle style with a thick tortoise shell frame, but I’ve been thinking of getting another pair of something a bit slimmer. I think Revo and Maui Jim have the best lenses on the market, so probably one of those.

Guys don’t get much in the way of accessories, I think. Sunglasses and watches are about it, so I have no problem spending a bit of coin on either one.

I don’t have an answer to your specific question, but in general sunglasses are more expensive because of better lenses or more marketing dollars behind the brand (or a combination of both). Neither Randolph Engineering nor American Optical are fashion brands, so my hunch would be that Randolph has a better lens, but I don’t know if that’s true.

Not too particular about the style I wear, but I used to get the cheapo-glasses until I realized that they were either breaking or “disappearing” at a rate of about once per week.

So I shelled out for some good glasses. I tell people (when it comes up, which isn’t often): “When you drop $100 on a pair of sunglasses you tend to take care of them and keep them close.”

My current pair is over 6 years old. I reckon I’ve saved considerable money by paying more for good glasses than going through a cheap pair every week or so.

I love my Mosley Tribes. They have the ever so slightly contoured lenses thus very little issues with glare from the sides. Excellent for driving and sailing. I have two pair.

Had a great pair of Ray-Bans as well. One of the kids borrowed them and I haven’t seen them since.

Used to have a pair of Maui Jim’s as well. Those went out of style unfortunately. But the lenses were excellent.

I use a set of Nashbar (?) cycling glasses with the swappable panoramic lenses. They work as designed and are very light and comfortable on rides.

I got prescription lenses when I started flying. I have prescription lenses now, but never wear them except at night. (I’m not flying currently.) My far sight has improved from my firs prescription.

I wear something out of the cheap sunglasses box when I kayak. No reason to get dried salt on good glasses.

My Ambermatics are at least 30 years old, and the frame with the prescription lenses is older than that.

I can’t see that the RE lenses would be any better. Both brands were designed to the same specs. I think RE is a relative newcomer, as AO has been making them for ages.

Panoramic lenses? My eyeballs came with that shit from the factory! The swappable lenses are nice, though. My cheap Polar Lens set came with clear, amber and blue. I usually use the blue ones.

Well, specs are minimum requirements, right? I honestly don’t know why Randolph shades are more expensive. Maybe it’s nothing. A lot of people will actually choose the more expensive option out of a choice of identical options because of perceived value. I know I do it myself, and I’m justifying it right now. They’re more expensive so they must be better!

Did you miss the CBS 60 minute show about why sunglasses are so expensive:

I have a set of RE shooting glasses with interchangeable lenses. But I have several sets of Serengetti so glasses from Costco that are fine for driving and general wear.

I had a pair of Serengeti drivers that I bought in the mid-80’s that I absolutely loved.They were optically perfect, and photochromic, and had a “timeless” style. I used to ruin sunglasses at an alarming rate, but these were too expensive to destroy, so I took loving care of them. I even had them repaired by B&L several times. The last time they developed a problem, B&L said they were no longer fixable, and I had to retire them. I must have worn them for 25 years - styling be damned!

I now wear a cheap pair of knock-offs (which aren’t half bad, actually).

RE was formed in 1972 by Jan Waszkiewicz, a former employee of AO, to make optical manufacturing equipment (particularly for frames). AO is about 100 years older (140, depending on how you calculate it). I really doubt that RE makes better lenses - I don’t think they make any. I guess AO still makes lenses, and they invented the aviator glasses, but RE holds the military contract, and maybe that accounts for the higher price point.

Hm. So people are paying more for the military cachet?

Got a couple more pair of glasses worth mentioning, which I bought back in the '90s… A pair of Oakley OO with gold (or brown) Iridium lenses , and a pair of Oakley Eye Jackets. The OOs look like the ones in the link. The Eye Jackets are are silver and black striped with each colour being about 1 mm or 2 mm in width. I had the frames replaced (actually, they just swapped them for new) Eye Jackets once at no charge; and the lenses replaced on the OOs, I think for a charge. It’s impossible not to scuff those things.

I live VERY high in the mountains. Our yard is still all snow. It’s very bright with the sun reflecting off of it. It’s very bright year round.

I don’t go anywhere with out sunglasses. They are up there with my wallet. I buy good ones, and they last for years.

I get called on it when I go back east. It may be cloudy out at the time, but it is so ingrained in me that I don’t go anywhere without sunglasses. A nephew told me that he thougt I was trying to be :cool:

Nope. It’s just the way it is in thin air. You get used to it.

The only time my sunglasses aren’t on is at night, or when I’m inside.

And I wear my sunglasses at night so I can, so I can keep track of the visions in my eyes.

(In actuality, I don’t. Near vision has gone to hell in the past few years, and I need more light nowadays.)

Sucks, doesn’t it. When I started loosing my near/reading vision, I did lasic. About 6 years ago. I was wearing contacts, but when I also needed reading glasses. Well… Now I only need my readers. Can’t go to a restaurant without them. At least I don’t need to mess with contacts any more.

I was looking for the case for the glasses whose lens I broke, and I found two cases… with HGU-4/Ps in them. Turns out I do have a pair of Randolph Engineering ones after all. They were in a case stamped ‘Welsh Mfg.’ The other pair is AO. I know I have a pair of HGU-4/Ps in a Ray-Ban case. Makes me want to see who made them. In any case, I see no difference between the RE and the AO glasses. They appear identical.

Still haven’t found an empty issue-case. (And I could use two.)


I bought Blu-bloskers a long time ago, and they were absolutely amazing. I could literally drive all day in bright sun, without feeling any significant reduction of eye weariness. With other sunglasses, a couple of hours was pretty much the limit before I had to take a lengthy rest stop. I had my clipons in my shirt pocket when I had an appointment with my ophthalmologist, and he pointed to them, and said Never go out without those. (Disclaimerf – I have no connection with Blu-bloskers. What I wear now are not genuine proprietary Blu-blockers, but are a very similar color, and seem to work as well.)

My AmberMatics were missing a screw and the left lens popped out easily. The lenses darken to brown in the sun as they did when I got them so long ago. I took them to Wal-Mart’s Vision Center and they replaced the missing screw, plus another screw that had a stripped head.

I wondered how much AmberMatics sell for. I found this video of some ‘kid’ showing the ones from his collection. I’m not sure how someone could talk about these things for eight minutes. It would have been shorter if he were a better speaker. :stuck_out_tongue:

As for the price, there’s one pair at Amazon for $300, which may be the re-issue for Ray Ban’s anniversary a couple of years ago. I found another place where original-issue ones are being sold for $385 to $425. My glasses are in their original case with the original hang-tag. The tag has a price sticker on it: $48. I remember thinking that $48 was a lot of money for a pair of sunglasses at the time.

Anyway, mine have been fixed and are ready to wear. :slight_smile:

I’ve love myMaui Jim Typhoons with the rose lenses. Unfortunately the style is out of production now–I got one of the last pairs from their repair department a couple of years ago. I have a several pairs of no-name back-ups, but I dread the day when something happens to my trusty Typhoons.

I still wear the same pair of Ray-Ban Aviators I bought back in 1976. They are a bit beat up, and the case is about to go, but I love those glasses. My eyesight needs correction, but in light bright enough to need sunglasses my eyes stop down enough that wearing uncorrected shades doesn’t bother me. My regular glasses are auto-darken, but they never get dark enough to be really useful.

I have Oakleys (of course, I AM in the Military :D) and a pair of Maui Jim Sports that I keep in the car/general wearing.

Then I have a pair of Optic Nerve for running/biking that are vented.

My daughter always steals the Oakleys when she is in the car, but it’s fine as long as she leaves them in the car. I also have a pair of SunClouds floating around the house that are okay.