On-the-spot fine for selling illegal sunnies

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A Perth city convenience store has been given an on-the-spot fine of $6,600 for selling sunglasses which did not meet safety regulations.

A product safety officer from Consumer Protection issued an infringement notice to the store’s owner after discovering more than 160 sunglasses on sale which did not have correct labels indicating the lens category of the product, as required by the mandatory safety standard.

The illegal sunglasses were immediately withdrawn from sale and replaced with stock which complied with the regulations.

Commissioner for Consumer Protection Anne Driscoll said sunglasses sold in Australia must have the correct lens category clearly marked to help consumers make the right choice for their needs.

“Australians are exposed to higher levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation than many other places in the world so it’s necessary that we have strict rules surrounding products that are meant to protect us from the damaging effects of exposure to the sun,” Ms Driscoll said.

“Australians risk serious eye damage, including cataracts and eye cancers, from too much sun exposure if they don’t wear sunglasses with the appropriate level of UV protection.

“Consumers need to be aware of the category of the sunglasses they are purchasing as some offer little or no UV protection and may be suitable only as a fashion accessory.

“Conversely, 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 are unsafe to wear while driving.

“Traders must ensure that sunglasses they are selling have the correct category clearly marked so consumers can make informed purchasing decisions.”

Safety tips

  • 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 some situations (e.g. while driving in direct sunlight, sunlight reflection on water).

Lens category 4 – Ultimate sun protection

Very high level of sun glare reduction and good UV protection BUT must NOT be used when driving.

There’s an online tool called ‘Safe sunnies: Which pair should I wear?’ to help consumers choose the lens category with the right level of UV protection and glare reduction. The tool is mobile-friendly and available at www.productsafety.gov.au/safesunnies. Consumers should report sunglasses without labels on sale in WA by calling Consumer Protection on 1300 30 40 54 or by emailing consumer@commerce.wa.gov.au.

Media contact (Consumer Protection)

Consumer Protection
Media release
03 Feb 2015

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