Why Do Glasses Have a Prop 65 Warning in California?

You will see the following notice in regards to all glasses and lenses:

Proposition 65 Warning

Glasses and sunglasses may display the Prop 65 warning because of the Bisphenol-A (BpA) found in polycarbonate lenses. Bisphenol-A (BpA) is a starting material in the manufacture of polycarbonate, so there are trace amounts of BpA found in those lenses. Common consumer goods, such as water bottles and the coatings on the inside of many food and beverages are made with BpA. According to www.bisphenol-a.org, studies have consistently shown that the potential migration of BpA into food is extremely low, generally less than 5 parts per billion. Also consider that you will not be biting, drinking from, or otherwise ingesting your glasses lenses. In May, 2015, the state of California relisted (BpA) on the Prop 65 chemicals list.

What is California Prop 65?

California Proposition 65, also known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, was created to protect California’s drinking water from contamination. California publishes a list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm, which is updated once a year. There are around 800 different chemicals currently, you can see a complete list on OEHHA, California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment . Proposition 65 requires businesses to notify Californians about significant amounts of chemicals in the products they purchase, in their homes or workplaces, or that are released into the environment. By providing this information, Proposition 65 enables Californians to make informed decisions about protecting themselves from exposure to these chemicals.

Can sunglasses cause cancer?

The BpA found in polycarbonate lenses is in trace amounts. The use of polycarbonate for food contact applications continues to be recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory authorities worldwide.

And you won’t be eating your sunglasses.

Recently, a chemical known as bisphenol A, BpA, was added to this list. BpA as many of you know, is found almost everywhere – food containers, compact discs and DVDs, bicycle helmets and electronic equipment. At your optometrist’s office, it’s found in trace amounts in some plastic eyeglass frames and in polycarbonate, a very common lens used in eyeglasses. With only trace amounts of BpA detected in a polycarbonate lens and plastic eye wear frame, how much exposure are you really getting? The studies have shown that most exposure to BpA is largely ingested and that any exposure through skin contact is negligible.

In fact, most glasses reduce your exposure to UV radiation around your eyes which can reduce the risk of cancer or growths on the eyes.

What does this mean for us spectacle lovers?

First of all, polycarbonate lenses are placed inside your frame and has virtually no contact to your face (unless you bought a pair of rimless frames that sit directly on your cheeks.) Secondly, polycarbonate lenses and plastic frames have been widely used for decades, with no direct correlation to an increase in health problems. Lastly, there is not enough research to indicate how much exposure you are truly getting from skin contact. If you’re in the habit of chewing on your plastic frames or licking your lenses, then obviously, you’d want to stop that, if not for the fact that that’s a weird and unhygienic habit.

So, what should you do?

Most of the eye care industry is not flummoxed by this recent change in consumer warning. But if you are concerned, there are plenty of other optically superior, thinner and more lightweight lenses available at Sunshine Optometry. Instead of plastic frames, choose a titanium or plant based frame instead. At Sunshine Optometry, there are plenty of other options available. And lastly, buy reputable frames and lenses with known quality, whose manufacturer you can directly contact if you have specific questions regarding manufacturing and ingredients.

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