They still protect your eyes from the sun. But sun glasses today are also about style and fashion.
In years past, buying sun glasses meant choosing a pair for 10 dollars or less from one of those revolving racks at the corner drug store.
You can still find those racks today, but there are also a growing number of stores that sell nothing but sun glasses. And they can cost quite a bit more these days.
Two things have helped the industry along. Technology and smart marketing. Technology means today's sun glasses are better than ever at protecting your eyes. Smart marketing means you're also paying a lot more for certain brand names.
"The technology today on a pair of sun glasses is the equivalent of a pair of prescription lenses. It's a clearer, crisper image. You have more protection nowadays than you would have 15 years ago," said the manager of Sun Glass World in Edgewater Mall.
You also have a larger choice of styles and prices. Around 90 dollars is the average selling price for a pair at Sun Glass World. Oakley is the leading brand, boosted by the celebrity likes of Tour De France cyclist, Lance Armstrong.
"People are looking for a certain glass for their certain lifestyle. Anywhere between sports oriented to polarized lenses for being out on the road or out on the water," the store manager said.
If money is no concern, how about a pair from Cartier. A mere 880 dollars.
We found two pair that look the same and provide equal protection for your eyes. The difference is price and a logo. One pair is 210 dollars. The others are less than 20 dollars.
Some doctors say protection from potentially harmful UV rays should be your biggest concern when buying sun glasses.
"Price is the style and the person's choice. But if there's an ultra violet filter in the glasses, I think that's the important consideration," said Gulfport eye doctor, Dr. Edward Stahel.
We found a group of beach goers that have far different tastes in sun glasses.
One woman said her sun glasses were "basic".
"Wal Mart. Ten dollar special."
One of her male friends prefers something a bit more costly.
"Ray Bans. They provide UVA and UVB protection," he said.
These days, there are styles and price ranges of sun glasses for every discriminating taste.