A man checks out sunglasses at a shop in Satwa. Picture for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Francois Nel /Gulf News

Dubai: Experts have called for a centralised eye glass lens testing system in the UAE, warning that fakes in the market are ruining people's eyes.

"Parents buy cheap eyewear made in China for their children to save costs but they pay the price later," said Shaji Abraham, division manager of Barakat Optical.

A luxury sunglass manufacturer said counterfeiting is a huge problem as some of the fakes look better than the original.

"But they [the counterfeiters] use the cheapest quality lens," said Furtan Moghbelpur, area manager for the French group TWC-L'amy, which represents luxury eyewear, watches and jewellery.

Branded sunglasses cost between Dh800 and Dh1,200, said Moghbelpur, But a fake, which looks exactly like the original, sells for Dh200.

An official from an optics company said buying fake sunglasses was like "buying a phone from the streets". "There is no UV [ultra-violet] radiation protection. They are not compatible with FDA guidelines. They possibly harm your eyes," he said.

Testing labs

Abraham alleges that anyone can bring in prescription lens and that there is no centralised lens testing lab.

"You get lenses where there is an aberration," he said. This means that the power is not the same across the lens, which can cause eye strain. "If you wear such lenses, you will get headaches and your eyes will be under a lot of stress," said the manager of Barakat.

Some of the fake lenses sell as cheap as Dh10, he said, while good quality ones will cost you anything between Dh120 and Dh150.

According to the Ted Lapidus area manager, people in the region buy sunglasses not to protect their eyes but as a fashion statement.

He said the ‘Made in China' tag has changed over the years.

"Most of the luxury eyewear in the French group is now made in China, while the fakes are made in Italy," he said.

Most buyers here do not mind purchasing a fake, since it's not for eye protection but for fashion, he said.

Laila Houreddine, an optometrist with Magrabi Opticals, said it is essential to wear sunglasses in Dubai. "It does not have to be branded sunglasses, but it should have good lens," she said. The optometrist warns that not wearing protection could lead to cataract.

Cataract develops when the lens in the eye become cloudy and vision gets impaired.