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Motorists making costly sunglasses mistake when driving risking huge fines

Sunglasses driving car


Motorists could be making a costly error with their sunglasses while driving (Image: GETTY)

British motorists are taking risks with the sunglasses they choose to wear while behind the wheel of their car claims new research. According to new research, British holidaymakers returning from abroad with sunglasses purchased from beachside sellers and market traders could risk blindness. Scientific testing finds that these particular sunglasses provide no UV protection. New analysis by Direct Line Motor Insurance reveals more than a third (35 per cent) of sunglasses purchased from beachside sellers in destinations ranging from Thailand to the Canary Islands and mainland Spain offered zero UV protection.

Researchers tested a range of glasses including knock-off designer brands mimicking things like Ray Bans and even cheap non-branded shades.

A pair of fake Ray-Ban sunglasses were found to offer zero UV protection despite stating they offered this protection on the attached labels. 

In contrast, a pair of sunglasses purchased from an online retailer in the UK for just £1.50 offered UV400 protection, equivalent to almost 100 per cent UV protection and protection from UVA and UVB radiation. 

The World Health Organisation highlights that UV radiation exposure can cause Photokeratitis and photoconjunctivitis, inflammatory reactions similar to sunburn of the eyeball or eyelid. 

As a result, people have an increased risk of developing cataracts due to UV overexposure, which can ultimately lead to blindness and in extreme cases eye cancer.

It is, therefore, important that everyone wears lenses which will, in fact, protect their eyes when exposed to strong sunlight.

The research shows that almost 3.1 million people believe that all sunglasses have UV protection.

This puts these motorists at increased risk of serious health implications by wearing unsuitable shades.

Over nine million (18 per cent) people purchasing sunglasses don’t check whether they offer UV protection. 


Some cheap sunglasses offer no UV protection (Image: GETTY)

More than one in ten (11 per cent) say they would check the UV protection of sunglasses, but might buy them anyway, because they may not understand the associated risks to their eye health.     

Researchers found it was not only eye health that is being put at risk in sunny conditions, as motorists are risking lives by getting behind the wheel without appropriate eyewear on sunny days. 

Over half a million Brits swap their prescription lenses for ordinary sunglasses when driving in sunny conditions. 

This means that these drivers would fail the legal government ‘standards of vision for driving’ test and be prosecuted for dangerous driving.


Drivers could be putting their eyes at risk (Image: GETTY)

Dangerous driving can carry a fine of up to £2,500 in the UK which means that this simple oversight could be incredibly costly.

A further half a million Brits don’t wear their prescribed lenses when driving in sunny weather and don’t wear prescribed sunglasses or sunglasses, posing an additional hazard because not only can they not see sufficiently but they risk being dazzled by the sun.        

Steve Barrett, head of motor insurance at Direct Line, commented: “We urge all motorists to wear appropriate eye protection and prescribed lenses including prescription sunglasses whilst driving.

“If people cannot see to drive safely, either through not wearing the correct prescription lenses or sunglasses to protect from glare, they pose a real danger to themselves and everyone else on our roads.”

Advice for motorists:

• Eyesight can deteriorate without noticing, it is recommended everyone has a professional eye test at least every two years, or immediately if a problem arises

• Think carefully about the sunglasses you drive in – is the tint too dark to offer good visibility are the frames designed so you can still use your peripheral vision?

• Always wear the correct prescribed lenses whilst driving, and in the sun wear prescription sunglasses

• Consider wearing sunglasses when driving on a bright day – they protect against glare and can protect against too much light reaching the retina, which can cause squinting that is known to cause headaches and squint constantly

• Keep a spare pair of glasses in the car – even on winter days there can be significant glare

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I'm a 50 year old PLC programmer from Burnley, UK. I severed my time as an electrician in the baking industry and soon got involved with the up and coming technology of PLC's. Initially this was all based in the Uk but as the years went by I have gradually worked my way around the globe. At first it was mainly Mitsubishi with a bit of Modicon thrown in but these days the industry leaders seem to be the Allen Bradley range of PLC and HMI’s.

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