The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is encouraging the community to choose the best protection for their eyes.
In Australia, sunglasses must be sold with the correct lens category clearly marked to help consumers choose the right pair for their needs and avoid hazards.
“Australians are exposed to high levels of UV due to factors such as Ozone layer depletion and low levels of cloud cover. You risk serious eye damage, including cataracts and eye cancers from too much sun exposure if you don’t wear sunglasses with the appropriate level of protection,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
“Some sunglasses can also create a hazard by impairing your vision. For example, sunglasses with category 4 protection offer a very high level of glare protection but can be unsafe to wear while driving as the lenses are very dark and may impair a driver’s vision."
“The ACCC has an online tool to help consumers choose the lens category with the right level of UV protection and glare reduction for them,” Ms Rickard said.
The ‘Safe sunnies: Which pair should I wear?’ tool is mobile-friendly and available at www.productsafety.gov.au/safesunnies.
- Look for sunglasses labelled category 2, 3 or 4 to give your eyes the best UV protection.
- Choose the right sunglasses for you and your activity. Talk to your optometrist or sunglass specialist in-store to help you choose the right pair.
- For sport, consider durable, glare reduction sunglasses such as those with a lens category 3 or 4.
- Some sunglasses may be unsafe to wear while driving – avoid sunglasses labelled category 1 and category 4 if you plan to wear sunglasses while driving.
- Always wear sunglasses in combination with other UV protection measures such as remaining in the shade where possible, wearing a hat and sunscreen.
- Make UV eye protection part of your everyday routine, even on days when you feel the sun’s rays may be less harmful.
Sunglass lens categories
Sunglasses come in five lens categories that specify different levels of UV and glare protection:
Lens category 0 – Fashion comes first
These are fashion spectacles, not sunglasses. They have a very low ability to reduce sun glare and may provide only some or no UV protection.
Lens category 1 – Fashion comes first with a hint of UV protection
Like category 0 lenses, these are fashion spectacles, not sunglasses; however, they do provide limited sun glare reduction and some UV protection. Fashion spectacles with category 1 lenses are not suitable for driving at night.
Lens category 2 – Fashion and daily wear
These sunglasses provide a medium level of sun glare reduction and good UV protection. As the lenses are not as dark as categories 3 or 4 sunglasses, they’re good for wearing day-to-day. These sunglasses are good if your preference is for a brighter view and you’re not overly sensitive to light.
Lens category 3 – Fashion and fun in the sun
Similar to category 2, these sunglasses provide a good level of UV protection. Lens category 3 glasses also provide a high level of sun glare reduction. These sunglasses are good if you prefer darker lenses or are particularly sensitive to light in particular situations (e.g. while driving in direct sunlight, sunlight reflection on the water at the beach).
Lens category 4 – Ultimate sun protection
These are special purpose sunglasses that provide a very high level of sun glare reduction and good UV protection. Lens category 4 sunglasses must not be used when driving at any time.