The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and state and territory fair trading agencies have found retailers selling non-compliant sunglasses in a joint nationwide surveillance program.
Between August and November 2013, 15,000 product lines were tested across major retailers, specialty stores, optometrists, chemists, discount stores, newsagents, service stations and convenience stores.
“Disappointingly, nearly one in seven of the products surveyed failed to comply with product safety laws,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
“Over 2,400 sunglasses from across the retail market, including speciality stores and major retailers, were removed from sale for having no mandatory lens category labelling and for failing lens performance requirements,” Ms Rickard said.
“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,” Optometrists Association Australia National CEO Genevieve Quilty said.
Ms Rickard said that lens category labelling 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.
“Look for sunglasses labelled category 2, 3 or 4 to give your eyes the best UV protection but avoid categories 1 and 4 while driving,” Ms Rickard said.
Consumer research commissioned by the ACCC found Australians rate eye protection and safety very highly when looking to buy sunglasses.
The ACCC also found that 92 per cent of shoppers who are aware of the lens category labels would likely check them before buying, and most find them very useful in their sunglass purchasing decisions, although 41 per cent of consumers are still unaware these labels exist.
“Levels of UV protection and glare reduction are top factors for Australians purchasing sunglasses, rating well above brand and fashion trends,” Ms Rickard said.
Under the Australian Consumer Law, sunglasses and fashion spectacles sold in Australia must comply with mandatory lens category labelling and minimum levels of lens performance, among other things – non-compliance can mean penalties of up to $1.1million.
The ACCC will continue to monitor the market and work with suppliers and relevant industry associations to raise compliance levels across the industry.
More information on the campaign including the research report is available on this website at www.productsafety.gov.au/safesunnies.
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