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June 27, 2024

Style over Substance

One in six Londoners opt for fashion over protection when choosing sunglasses, putting eye health at risk

Millions of Brits are putting their eye health at risk by choosing style over substance when it comes to choosing their sunglasses, according to new research from Specsavers.

Nearly one in six (15%) Londoners say they are more likely to purchase a pair of sunglasses based on looks alone rather than the level of protection against ultraviolet (or UV) rays they provide.

The poll of 2,000 UK adults also uncovered a lack of awareness around how effective – or ineffective – an individual pair of sunglasses can be against UV rays.

In the UK, sunglasses must bear the CE Mark and be marked as UV400 to offer effective UV protection.[i]

Of the Londoners polled, 13% admitted to not knowing how effective their chosen shades are in protecting them from UV rays, however over half (60%) are aware that different sunglasses can offer different levels of UV protection.

Around a quarter (26%) reported that they believed sunglasses with larger lenses provided better protection from UV rays, a further 24% also thought that sunglasses with darker lenses offered this same protection.

The study also showed a quarter (25%) of people are concerned about sun damage to their eyes if they forget their shades on a sunny day, but more people (just over a third at 35%) are more worried about not being able to see at the time. A little over one in 20 (9%) confess their biggest concern would be adding to the wrinkles around their eyes.

While over half of people (57%) wish they’d taken better care of their eyes in the past, just under a quarter (21%) wear sunglasses all year round. This is despite the risk of sun damage during any season, with only 18% wearing sunglasses on dull days.

Giles Edmonds, Clinical Services Director at Specsavers, explains: “Long-term sun exposure can cause irreversible damage to your eyesight and can increase the risk of specific eye conditions such as cataracts or age-related macular degeneration, a common cause of blindness.

“The right sunglasses can protect the eyes by filtering UV light from the eyes – however, many people still choose a cosmetic pair over safety, which may cause the pupil to dilate, increasing the amount of UV light filtering into the eyes. And the darkness of your sunglasses lenses has nothing to do with UV protection — it only helps to reduce the brightness of light that reaches your eyes.”

A third of Londoners (33%) believe their eyesight has worsened over the last 10 years, with one in 20 reporting a significant deterioration.

While small amounts of sunlight can be good for your body, frequent exposure to UV rays can have a negative impact on your vision. In the short-term, UVA and UVB rays can lead to photokeratitis (a type of sunburn to the cornea) and in the long-term, they can increase your risk of developing more serious eye conditions.

Edmonds adds: “It’s worrying that so many people say they would choose style over UV protection – when it really is possible to have both. There are a lot of myths around sunglasses and their UV protection, and it can be hard to know which pair to choose. Our advice is to speak to your local optician, as they will be able to advise you – and help you pick out a stylish prescription pair (or two on our 2-for-1 deal) that will tick all the boxes.”

To browse the range of UV-protected sunglasses available at Specsavers, visit: Prescription and designer sunglasses | Specsavers UK.

[i] Specsavers UV Protection:,'%20followed%20by%20'CE'.