The mass non-compliance was uncovered on sunglasses sold in major retailers, optometrists, chemists and discount stores.
Between August and November, 15,000 sunglasses lines were tested - nearly one in seven products surveyed failed to comply with product safety laws, following a joint nationwide surveillance program by the consumer watchdog ACCC, and state fair trading agencies.
There have been two recalls of sunglasses this year in Oz - United Culture Sunglasses aviator style, sold between June- September
"The defects may affect the user's ability to judge the distance of objects, particularly moving objects. This has driving safety implications and may result in blurred vision and headaches", according to the ACCC recall notice.
The other Elle Style Sunglasses was recalled due to lack of UV protection.
"Exposing your eyes to high levels of sunlight may cause serious and sometimes irreversible eye damage such as cataracts and eyelid cancers, so it's essential that your sunglasses offer adequate UV protection," warns Optometrists Association Australia National CEO Genevieve Quilty.
Sunglasses labelled category 2, 3 or 4 give your eyes the best UV protection but avoid categories 1 and 4 while driving, said today.
Lens category labeling was important as it allowed consumers to choose the right level of sun and glare protection for their needs to prevent serious and permanent damage to their eyes.
Consumer research commissioned by the ACCC found Australians rate eye protection and safety very highly when looking to buy sunglasses. Levels of UV protection and glare reduction are top factors for Australians purchasing sunglasses, rating well above brand and fashion trends.
Under Consumer Law, sunglasses and fashion spectacles sold in Australia must comply with mandatory lens category labeling and minimum levels of lens performance, among other things. Non-compliance can mean penalties of up to $1.1million.
- 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, 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. Information on lens categories.
They have a very low ability to reduce sun glare and may provide only some or no UV protection.
- Lens category 1
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
These sunglasses provide a medium level of sun glare reduction and good UV protection.
- Lens category 3
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.
- Lens category 4
These are special purpose sunglasses that provide a very high level of sun glare reduction and good UV protection.