TOURISTS who buy cheap sunglasses from beach sellers abroad could be risking blindness and eye cancer.
A total of 35 per cent of the rip-offs of famous brands offered zero protection against UV rays, a study found.
Wearing them back home in bright sunlight can cause irreversible damage.
High UV exposure can cause photokeratitis and photoconjunctivitis — a kind of sunburn to the eyeballs or eyelids, insurers Direct Line said.
It added drivers should always use good eyewear.
A pair of sunglasses purchased over the counter in the UK for just £1.50 would still offer far greater UV protection.
A survey by Direct Line found 18 per cent of those buying sunglasses do not check for UV protection and 11 per cent would still buy them even after finding they offered no protection.
An added problem for drivers is that many of those who would normally wear prescription glasses wear non-prescription sunglasses in bright sunshine.
Steve Barrett, head of motor insurance at Direct Line, said: “We urge all motorists to wear appropriate eye protection and prescribed lenses including prescription sunglasses whilst driving.
“If people cannot see to drive safely, either through not wearing the correct prescription lenses or sunglasses to protect from glare, they pose a real danger to themselves and everyone else on our roads.”