Press Release Issued By
West Yorkshire Trading
Standards Service




WATCH YOUR SHADES (17th July 2001)

West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service and the other trading standard departments across the Yorkshire and Humberside area have teamed up with the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association to help promote 'Shades for a Day' - a campaign to encourage people to wear their sunglasses for one day to emphasise the importance of eye care and raise money for Guide Dogs.

In order to assess the quality of sunglasses on sale to the public in the area, trading standards submitted 51 samples for test to see whether they complied with the relevant regulations. Of the 51 samples submitted, over 20% failed to comply in some respect. Martin Wood, West Yorkshire Chief Trading Standards Officer said, "Some of the failures were non-serious technical matters, others however were more serious and these included:

  • Not being suitable for wearing whilst driving and not being labelled as such (some coloured lenses make it difficult to see red traffic lights)
  • Claiming to be dark tint, but actually light tint
  • Allowing harmful UVB light to transmit through the lens
  • Claiming to have a higher category of protection that they actually possess

He added, "Sunglasses which do not filter out UV light can actually cause more damage to the eye than no sunglasses at all. This is because the darkened lenses lead the eye to dilate, letting in more potentially harmful UV than usual.

Recent studies have indicated that long term, unprotected exposure to UV light can lead to serious eye problems. It is vital that consumers purchase sunglasses that protect their eyes from UV".

WYTSS offer the following tips when buying sunglasses.

  • Make sure that the sunglasses display a CE marking
  • Look for a special label that says they block out 99-100% of UV-A and UV-B rays. These rays are the parts of sunlight that can harm your eyes.
  • Remember that wearing sunglasses that don't block out these rays can be worse than not wearing any at all
  • Look for sunglasses that are close fitting as they help stop light getting round the eyes
  • wraparound shades and large lenses are good
  • Plastic lenses are often better than glass ones and are harder to break
  • Don't be fooled by price - more expensive shades might be more fashionable but don't necessarily give more protection
  • Brown, amber and grey lenses usually give better protection than other colours

Dark coloured sunglasses don't necessarily protect better. It's a special coating on the lens that makes them safe, not their darkness

Geraldine Peacock, Chief Executive of the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, points out: "Being sensible often seems dull and boring, but what Guide Dogs and Trading Standards are saying is 'be sensible and look cool at the same time'. Make sure your sunglasses really are going to protect you, then make sure you wear them".


Notes for Editors

  • The Trading Standards Departments which took part in the sampling exercise were North Lincolnshire; North East Lincolnshire; Hull; East Riding of Yorkshire; Sheffield; Barnsley; Rotherham; Doncaster; West Yorkshire and York.
  • 51 samples of sunglasses were submitted for test against BS EN 1836; 1997 for transmission characteristics of the lenses/filters.
  • 11 pairs failed to comply either with the standard or with claims made on the labelling/packing
  • The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association is the leading charity providing guide dogs, mobility and other rehabilitation services that enable blind and partially sighted people to lead the fullest most independent lives possible.

For further information : Paul Cooper (WYTSS) Tel 0113 289 8240 Graham Hebblethwaite (WYTSS) Tel 0113 289 8218 Matt Granger/Alison Wade (Guide Dogs for the Blind) Tel 0118 983 8242/8380