While this doesn’t automatically mean the sunglasses in question will fail to prevent long-term eye damage, CHOICE thinks it only makes sense to buy sunglasses that give better protection. For this to be possible, sunglasses need to be tested to the standard and labelled correctly. See what the label should say? We suspect from the gap between the UV test results of the two glasses mentioned above and those of the others that they’re in fact fashion spectacles. But because of the way the law is worded, if there is no type designation on the label – which there wasn’t for these two pairs – sunglasses fall into the ‘general-purpose’ category, which has much more stringent requirements.What to look for when purchasing your sunglasses

If you want to protect your eyes, you want bona fide sunglasses – not fashion spectacles that only have to meet minimal requirements. But how do you make sure that you’re buying real sunglasses? Since it seems you can’t rely on the labels, in fact you can’t be sure without some expensive equipment, here’s a guide to increasing your chances.

Look for clearly labelled ‘general-purpose’ or ‘specific-purpose’ sunglasses with traditional brown or grey lenses. Glasses with pale blue, yellow, pink or other trendy-coloured lenses are unlikely to be good sunglasses and probably should be labelled as fashion spectacles.

Avoid ‘John Lennon’ and other minimalist styles, which can let too much UV radiation in from the sides. Use a 20 cent coin as a rough guide to check that the lens is large enough (consider this a very bare minimum). Experts recommend you choose larger lenses in a wraparound style, which more effectively prevent light entering your eyes from the top and sides. When trying on a pair, get a feel for how well the glasses’ contour to your face.

Make sure the glasses are free from obvious defects such as sharp edges or chipping paint.

Check that the manufacturer is identified by name or trade mark, on the frames or tag.

For more information including a table of fast foods compared, check out the CHOICE free report Sunglasses. You can also see hundreds of independent product tests from digital cameras to dishwashers at CHOICE Online – www.choice.com.au We’re a non-profit site funded by consumers.

? Australian Consumers Association 2003