Wearing sunglasses with the appropriate level of protection, can help prevent serious damage to your eyes including cataracts and eye cancers.
However, some sunglasses can create a hazard by impairing 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.
In Australia, sunglasses must be sold with the correct lens category clearly marked, to help us make the right choice for our needs.
- Look for sunglasses labelled category 2, 3 or 4 to give eyes the best UV protection.
- Choose the right sunglasses for an activity. An optometrist or in-store sunglass specialist can help.
- For sport, consider durable, glare reduction sunglasses such as those with a lens category 3 or 4.
- Sunglasses labelled category 1 and category 4 may be unsafe while driving.
- Sunglasses should be worn in combination with other UV protection measures such as remaining in the shade where possible, wearing a hat and sunscreen.
- UV eye protection needs to be a part of everyday routine, even on days when it feels like the sun’s rays may be less harmful.
Sunglasses come in five lens categories that specify different levels of UV and glare protection:
Lens category 0 – Fashion comes first
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
Fashion spectacles, not sunglasses; however, they do provide limited sun glare reduction and some UV protection. Not suitable for driving at night.
Lens category 2 – Fashion and daily wear
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 and 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
Provide a good level of UV protection and 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
Very high level of sun glare reduction and good UV protection BUT must NOT be used when driving.
Safe sunnies tool
The mobile friendly online tool ‘Safe sunnies: Which pair should I wear?’ helps you choose the lens category with the right level of UV protection and glare reduction.
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