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The BBC's Karen Bowerman
"Manufacturers of designer shades deny they are charging too much"
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Monday, 5 June, 2000, 23:02 GMT 00:02 UK
Designer shades 'no safer'
Designer sunglasses offer no more protection
Designer sunglasses may be the height of fashion - but they offer no more protection from the sun than cheap alternatives costing 1 a pair.

As long as glasses have the British Standard mark they should protect against harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays regardless of cost, says Health Which? magazine.

Researchers from the magazine carried out tests on 12 pairs of sunglasses costing 1 to 89.

Researchers found that cheap unbranded children's sunglasses reached the same British Standard requirements for blocking UV rays as 89 Calvin Klein shades.

All 12 pairs passed the safety requirements and would give adequate UV protection.

British Standard

If the sun is hot enough to burn the skin, then it will also damage the eyes

Edmund McMahon-Turner
Moorfields Eye Hospital
Charlotte Gann, editor of Health Which? said: "Check for the British Standard mark - as long as sunglasses have this they should provide enough protection from the sun, however little they cost.

"How much you want to pay for the most stylish shades is then up to you."

Experts also warned that the darkness of sunglasses is no indication of the protection they offer.

UV rays from the sun can damage the eyes, and the effect can build up over time.

Recent research has shown that exposure to sunlight may increase the risk of developing cataracts - the leading cause of blindness world-wide.

A cataract is a cloudy or opaque area in the normally transparent lens of the eye.

Edmund McMahon-Turner, of Moorfields Eye Hospital, said: "If the sun is hot enough to burn the skin, then it will also damage the eyes.

"People should also wear sunglasses in bright conditions, especially when skiing or holidaying near water - reflected light from these surfaces can increase the amount of UV light immensely."

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15 Mar 00 | Health
Sunlight 'may cause cataracts'
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