Over half of 'high street' sunglasses on sale in the UK fail to meet EU safety standards
Researchers found higher price did not guarantee safety of high street sunglasses
11:43 GMT, 24 July 2012
More than half of budget sunglasses purchased on the High Street fail to meet strict EU safety standards, a shocking new study has found.
Researchers tested over 100 pairs of shades from ten leading retailers ranging in price from 1 to 25.
They found 57 per cent failed at least one of the tests laid down by the European Union.
It means consumers could be at risk of damaging their eyes as they try to protect themselves from the sun this summer.
Take care in the glare: Half of sunglasses do not meet safety standards
Furthermore, the researchers found there appears to be little correlation between the price of the sunglasses and their quality in this price range.
Companies that import sunglasses to the EU must make a declaration of conformity saying they comply with standard EN 1836:2005+A1:2007.
They risk a fine of around 2,000 if found to be in breach and will also have to remove them from sale.
But tests conducted by the Optical Appliances Testing Service, at City University, London, found many do indeed fail to meet the standards.
Almost half of the lenses that failed, 49 per cent, cracked or shattered during a 'ball drop' impact test.
This leaves people at risk of further injury if hit in the face while wearing them.
A fifth of failed glasses were found to have 'non-uniform' lenses, meaning significantly more light reached one eye than the other.
This can change the apparent position of objects when seen through the sunglasses and possibly lead to eye strain, fatigue and headaches.
One in seven failings were due to the 'scatter' test, which measured the surface quality of the lenses and analysed the clarity of the view.
Plus eight per cent were found to have higher than permitted optical power, which is usually only found in prescription lenses.
Worryingly, consumers have no way of knowing whether they are buying products which fail the sunglass standard.
That is despite products carrying the CE mark and a reference to the sunglass standard.
All glasses tested were found to offer adequate protection from the sun's harmful rays.
Optician Richard Pakey said: 'On the whole, high street stores essentially sell fashion accessories.
'While sunglasses can be a fantastic fashion accessory, it's vital that you remember why you're wearing them in the first place.'