If you heard that sunglasses costing less than a fiver had failed to meet the British Standard, would a little part of you not think: ‘you get what you pay for’? Well, no actually.
Why? Because if I pick up a pair of sunglasses during my weekly Tesco shop, I really wouldn’t expect them to potentially alter my depth perception due to lenses letting in differing amounts of light.
And even if I bought a pair in Poundland, perhaps thinking to myself ‘well, they won’t last forever’, I definitely wouldn’t expect to end up with blurred vision and headaches. Let alone the pair that was mislabelled and – unbeknownst to me – wouldn’t be safe to drive in.
Meeting the British Standard
So why is this an issue? Because of the 21 pairs of sunglasses we tested in our labs, every single one clearly stated that they met the British Standard. And call me old-fashioned, but I sort of think they should do what it says on the label.
We found that 15 of the 21 pairs (three each from seven retailers) failed key lab tests. And though nothing we saw would cause you long-term vision problems, I’d rather not risk making astigmatism worse (as one Primark pair could) if I could avoid it.
So, my question is: when I part with my money for sunglasses in M&S, Sainsbury’s, George at Asda, Poundland, Primark and Tesco, should I expect to take my chances? Some of the sunglasses did fine in our tests, so how are you to know whether you’re getting a good pair?
These companies disputed our findings, but we’ll be sending the worst to Trading Standards. Asda, M&S, Sainsbury’s and Tesco told us they check their glasses meet British Standards. Asda, Poundland and Primark will be investigating immediately.
Maybe I should just start shopping at New Look – all three of its pairs passed our tests with flying colours! Do you sunglasses meet British Standards?
You can read more about the sunglasses we tested and those that failed, along with tips on buying sunglasses in our news story.