What does CE mean on sunglasses?

Sunglasses bearing the CE mark signifies European Conformity to the standard: EN 1836:2005. This means the lenses are capable of ultraviolet protection against invisible solar radiation up to 380 nanomtres (nm). This mark is applicable to all afocal (plano power) sunglasses and clip-ons for general use, including road use and driving.

For you, the wearer, the CE mark acts as reassurance that your sunglasses have undergone rigorous testing to meet specific requirements for durability and safety. These tests include impact resistance, lens strength, and material quality.

If you're concerned or curious about sunglasses protection and their various ratings, this article goes into all the finer details you might want to know about.

Let's dive in.

 

Close view of CE marking on sunglasses temple arm

Do sunglasses need CE mark?

Yes, sunglasses are required to have the CE mark in Europe if they are intended for general use as a form of eye protection against solar radiation. This mark ensures that the product meets certain safety and durability standards set by the European Union.

Without the CE mark, there's no guarantee that the sunglasses you are wearing have undergone proper testing and may not provide adequate protection against UV light.

If you observe your sunglasses closely, you should find a small CE marking stamped, printed or etched on one of the interior surfaces. This is usually located on the one of the temples (arms), temple tips or occasionally on the frame front.

If your sunglasses don't bear the CE mark, cease using them immediately until you can either have the lenses tested for UV protection or have them replaced entirely.

 

 

UV400 sticker on square black sunglasses frame

So what does UV400 mean on sunglasses then?

The UV400 rating indicates that the sunglasses lenses have been tested and are capable of blocking 99-100% of ultraviolet light with wavelengths up to 400 nanometres (nm). This includes UVA, UVB and UVC rays, which are known to cause damage to your skin and eyes.

UV light sub-type

Frequency (nm)

Danger to eyes & skin

UVA

315 - 400

High

UVB

280 - 315

Medium

UVC

100 - 280

Low

 

 

How can I tell if my sunglasses have UV protection?

Apart from the CE mark on the frame itself, there are a few other ways to determine if your sunglasses have UV protection.

New sunglasses

  • Check for any temporary labels or stickers on the lenses that state UV protection such as UV400.
  • Check for any documentation regarding any specific information about UV protection.
  • Contact the shop, vendor or supplier to ensure the lenses are fully UV protective.

       

      Old sunglasses

      Using an inexpensive UV flashlight, you can quickly test your sunglasses for UV protection. Here's how:

      1. Shine the UV flashlight on a (real) bank note to illuminate it's fluorescent markings.
      2. Turn off the lights and close any curtains or blinds.
      3. Place the sunglasses in front of the bank note (bill) on a table.
      4. Shine the UV flashlight through one of the sunglasses' lenses
      5. If the banknote doesn't illuminate the same fluorescent markings, it means your lenses are UV protective.
      6. Repeat the process for both lenses to make sure.

                Note: This is just a quick test and may not always be accurate, so if you're still unsure about your sunglasses' UV protection, it's best to have them professionally tested as written below.

                 

                Optician's photometer

                Another way to tell if your sunglasses have proper UV protection is to take them to a local optometrist or optical store. There, they can test your lenses using a specialised UV light meter called a photometer.

                It's unlikely they'll charge you for this service, however should they do so, it'll only be a small fee for your peace of mind.

                 

                 

                What if my sunglasses don't have UV protection?

                If you discover that your sunglasses don't have adequate UV protection, it's important to replace them immediately. Prolonged exposure to UV radiation can lead to serious and irreversible eye problems such as cataracts and macular degeneration.

                Why so?

                Behind dark lenses, your pupils dilate (widen) to let more light in - just like if you were in a darkened room. This dilation means your eyes are more exposed to both visible light and invisible UV light.

                Without proper UV protection, dark lenses are actually worse for your eyes than no sunglasses at all! This is why UV protection is so crucial for any sunglasses, regardless of lens darkness, style or polarisation.

                Darker lenses aren't better for your eyes and have nothing to do with UV protection. They simply absorb more visible light for visual comfort which classifies them into one of five sunglasses categories.

                 

                 

                Visual comparison between polarised sunglasses and non polarised sunglasses

                Are polarised sunglasses better?

                Polarised sunglasses are an optional upgrade to basic UV protection which contain an additional filter within the lenses. This filter, called a polariser, blocks reflected light (glare) from flat surfaces such as water or wet roads to reduce the strain placed on your eyes.

                Over long periods of exposure, polarised lenses significantly reduce visual fatigue as you don't have to strain as hard to see. After multiple hours or consecutive days in strong sunlight, they're an advantageous (but optional) upgrade to UV protective sun lenses.

                Polarised lenses aren't any more UV protective. They're just better for visual comfort.

                Do polarised lenses block UV?

                 

                 

                Do all UK sunglasses have UV protection?

                Sunglasses sold or distributed to the UK must provide a minimum UV protection up 380nm (nanometres) as indicated by the CE mark or to 400nm as indicated by a UV400 rating.

                 

                What does UKCA mean on sunglasses?

                UKCA stands for UK Conformity Assessed and is the new product marking to be used on all sunglasses sold in the UK after February 2025. It indicates that the sunglasses have been tested and meets all necessary requirements set by UK regulations and standards. If the sunglasses are sold both in the UK and EU countries, then both the UKCA and CE markings must be used.

                 

                Illustration comparison of CE mark vs Chinese Import mark

                How to identify a genuine CE mark on sunglasses

                As seen in the illustration above, the CE mark (Conformité Européenne) has a wider spacing between the two letters using two overlapping circles to form each character. This is the official CE symbol used on sunglasses which conform with EN 1836:2005.

                 

                 

                Summary

                • Sunglasses bearing the CE mark signifies European Conformity to the standard: EN 1836:2005.
                • CE is short for the French term: Conformité Européenne.
                • CE marked sunglasses are UV protective to 380nm.
                • UV marked sunglasses are UV protective to 400nm.
                • Polarised lenses block glare from flat surfaces, enhancing visual comfort but do not offer additional UV protection.
                • The UKCA mark is mandatory on sunglasses sold in the UK post-February 2025

                 

                Hopefully you found this article helpful. If so, please check out our other sunglasses blog posts for more helpful advice.

                Thanks for stopping by.

                 

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