The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals tested 24 different lens cleaners for chemicals that are unwanted for your health and the environment.
These substances can cause allergies, pollute the environment and are suspected endocrine disruptors.
We reviewed the content declarations of eyeglass cleaners from brands such as Specsavers, Zeiss, W5, Synoptik, Coop, Flying Tiger, Shine, Sterling and Poul Stig Briller.
PFAS, parabens and other unwanted substances in lens cleaners
Among the 24 eyeglass cleaners, nine received the lowest chemical rating, the C-rating.
This is due to the presence of highly allergenic preservatives - such as methylisothiazolinone, found in five products.
Additionally, PFAS and parabens, which are suspected endocrine disruptors, were found in some products.
To reduce your exposure to unwanted chemicals, consider choosing products that do not contain these substances.
Be aware of perfume as well
Seven eyeglass cleaners in the test contained perfume, which can cause allergy.
Limiting your exposure to perfume in products you use daily is a good idea.
Products with added perfume received a medium rating, the B-rating, in the test.
Ingredients are hard to find
Surprisingly, 18 of 24 lens cleaners tested did not comply with the legal requirements to provide mandatory ingredient lists. It is legally required for companies to disclose the full ingredient lists on their official website.
To address this issue, the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals contacted the companies responsible for these products and requested the correct information.
Unfortunately, three companies did not provide the accurate information as requested. Consequently, their products received the lowest rating in the test, the C-rating.
The cocktail effect is the problem
The individual product with unwanted chemicals is not dangerous; rather, it is the cumulative exposure to unwanted chemicals in everyday life that should be of concern. This phenomenon is referred to as the cocktail effect.
Eyeglass cleaner is just one of many products that you regularly come into close contact with. Therefore, it is advisable to be mindful and take measures to limit your overall exposure to unwanted chemicals in everyday life wherever possible.
In the test, you can identify eyeglass cleaners that are free from unwanted chemicals and receive the best rating, the A-rating.
Tips for using lens cleaners
- Consult your optician to determine what types of cleaning agents your glasses can withstand, as it may vary depending on the materials your glasses are made of.
- Scan your eyeglass cleaner with our app Kemiluppen and check for unwanted chemicals (only available in Denmark).
- Refer to our test of eyeglass cleaners to find a product that does not contain unwanted chemicals.
About the test
The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals conducted a comprehensive test on 24 eyeglass cleaners to examine the presence of unwanted chemicals. The eyeglass cleaners were purchased from the Danish market, with a primary focus on products available in physical stores. Additionally, some products were also obtained from online retailers.
The test is a declaration test, which is based on checking the ingredient lists. Thus, the test does not consider the specific quantities of the chemicals present in the products.
To obtain the ingredient lists, the council used various sources, including labels on the products, online data sheets, and direct communication with the companies producing these eyeglass cleaners.
The aim was to ensure that the correct and comprehensive list of ingredients was obtained and that the companies were informed of any instances of unwanted chemicals found during the testing.
- Nine eyeglass cleaners are free from unwanted chemicals, receiving the best rating, the A-rating.
- Six eyeglass cleaners received a medium rating, the B-rating, due to the presence of fragrance and/or LAS.
- Nine lens cleaners received the worst chemical rating, the C-rating. Out of these, six products were found to contain unwanted chemicals, and three products did not provide the full ingredient list despite repeated requests from the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals.
Overall, the test aimed to provide consumers with information about the presence of unwanted chemicals in eyeglass cleaners, allowing them to make more informed choices when selecting products that are safer for both health and the environment.
In the test conducted on eyeglass cleaners, five products were found to contain isothiazolinones in the form of methylisothiazolinone, methylchloroisothiazolinone, and benzisothiazolinone.
It is important to note, that all isothiazolinones are allergenic and can potentially cause allergic reactions. Moreover, these substances can also pose environmental concern. Due to their high allergenicity, regulations regarding their use have been strengthened in recent years, particularly in the context of cosmetics and labeling requirements.
While isothiazolinones are not allowed in leave-on cosmetics, they are permitted in cleaning products, including eyeglass cleaners.
It is worth mentioning, that once an individual develops contact allergy to a certain substance, the allergy is typically lifelong and future exposure to that allergen may trigger allergic reactions.
Apart from isothiazolinones, the test also identified other allergenic substances such as:
- Glutaral, which is allergenic.
- Lodopropynyl butylcarbamate, which is allergenic and can be problematic for the environment.
- Sodium pyrithione, which is allergenic and can be problematic for the environment.
Suspected endocrine disruptors
The chemicals Methylparaben and Ethylparaben were used in one product. Both are parabens and suspected endocrine disruptors.
We have found PFAS in one of the tested products.
PFAS or other fluorinated substances is known to be problematic for the environment and is suspected of being harmful to human health. In response to these concerns, Denmark has joined forces with a number of other European countries to ban PFAS in the EU.
Seven of the tested eyeglass cleaners contain perfume, which can cause allergies.
To lower the risk of developing fragrance allergies, it’s advisable to limit your skin's exposure to perfume as much as possible.
In eyeglass cleaners, Perfume serves no functional purpose apart from providing a scent.
Two lens cleaners were found to contain Sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonate, which belongs to the group of substances called LAS, known to be problematic for the environment. LAS is not degradable under low oxygen (anaerobic) conditions.
The test conducted by the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals highlighted a concerning issue regarding the lack of easily accessible ingredient lists on eyeglass cleaners. Out of the 24 eyeglass cleaners tested, ingredient lists were not readily available for 18 of them. This represents a significant challenge for consumers who want to make informed choices about the products they use.
In response to this lack of transparency, the council reached out to the companies responsible for these products to request the required information. However, even after repeated requests, three companies did not provide the full list of ingredients, despite it being a legal requirement to do so. According to the law, ingredient lists should be made available either on the product packaging or on the company's website for all cleaning products available to consumers, including lens cleaners.
The fact that a substantial number of eyeglass cleaner manufacturers failed to comply with this legal obligation suggests that the industry may not be giving adequate attention to ensuring transparency and consumer safety.
What the companies say
Future Danmark, which represent X-cess, state that the product is being discontinued.
Ask your optician about eyeglass cleaning
Opticians may offer different advice on how to clean your glasses, primarily due to the different materials used to make the frames.
Some opticians might recommend dishwashing liquid to clean eyeglasses, while others advise against it. For instance, acetate frames can dry out and lead to a loss of shine.
To ensure that you are cleaning your glasses properly and without causing any damage, it is best to follow the specific advice provided by the retailer or optician from whom you purchased the eyeglasses.
You may also encounter opticians who warn against using lens cleaning wipes, which can contain coarse fibers that may scratch your glasses and alcohol that can dry out the frame.
Again, the materials used in cleaning wipes can vary greatly.