The Best Safety Glasses

What makes the best safety glasses?

Every day thousands of eye injuries occur and about 90 percent of them could have been prevented by the use of appropriate safety eyewear.

Workplaces have mandated safety regulations in place. The home is the source of the fastest-growing number of eye injuries. 

And eye injuries can happen to bystanders who are standing close when someone is using dangerous tools or chemicals.

The difference between regular eyeglasses and safety glasses

Safety glasses and goggles differ from regular eyeglasses primarily in their design and purpose. Here are the key differences:

Construction and Materials:

Safety Glasses: Safety glasses are made from impact-resistant materials, such as polycarbonate or Trivex. These materials are much stronger than regular eyeglass lenses and are capable of withstanding high-velocity impacts.

Regular Eyeglasses: Regular eyeglasses are usually made from glass or plastic, but they are not designed to withstand significant impact forces. They are meant for vision correction not eye protection.

Impact Resistance:

Safety Glasses: The primary purpose of safety glasses is to protect the eyes from flying debris, particles, and objects that may cause harm. They must meet specific safety standards (e.g., ANSI Z87.1 in the United States) to ensure they can withstand impacts from certain velocities and masses.

Regular Eyeglasses: Regular eyeglasses are not designed to provide impact protection. They can shatter upon impact, potentially causing additional harm to the eyes. However, there are shatterproof lenses made from polycarbonate and Trivex.

Coverage and Fit:

Safety Glasses: Safety glasses are designed to provide wrap-around protection, covering the eyes from the front and sides. They have a secure and comfortable fit to prevent debris from entering the eyes from various angles.

Regular Eyeglasses: Regular eyeglasses are made to correct vision and do not offer the same level of coverage and protection as safety glasses.

Usage Environments:

Safety Glasses: Safety glasses are commonly used in industrial settings, construction sites, laboratories, workshops, and any environment where there is a risk of eye injury from flying objects, dust, chemicals, or other hazards. They are also used for eye protection during sports and at home when working around the yard and while working with machinery. 

Regular Eyeglasses: Regular eyeglasses are worn for everyday vision correction and are not designed for protection against workplace or recreational hazards.

Lens Tint and Coatings:

Safety Glasses: Safety glasses may come with different lens tints and coatings to provide additional protection, such as UV protection, anti-fog, or anti-scratch coatings.

Regular Eyeglasses: Regular eyeglasses may also have coatings like anti-glare or UV protection, but they do not typically have the same protective features as safety glasses.

 Selecting safety glasses

Assessing the ratings of safety glasses and goggles is crucial to ensure you are selecting the appropriate eyewear for the specific hazards and environments you will encounter. Here are some key factors to consider when evaluating the ratings:

Safety Standards:

Check if the safety glasses or goggles comply with recognized safety standards, such as ANSI Z87.1 in the United States, CSA Z94.3 in Canada, or EN166 in Europe. These standards outline the minimum requirements for impact resistance and other safety features.

Impact Resistance:

Look for information on the eyewear’s impact resistance rating. The eyewear should be tested to withstand high-velocity impacts from small objects, providing adequate protection against potential hazards.

Lens Material:

Determine the material used for the lenses. Polycarbonate and Trivex are common materials known for their impact resistance. Ensure that the protective eyewear uses one of these materials to maximize protection.

Lens Coatings:

Check for additional lens coatings, such as anti-scratch, anti-fog, and UV protection. These coatings can enhance the performance and durability of the safety eyewear.

Frame Construction:

Assess the frame design and construction. The frame should be sturdy and comfortable, ensuring a secure fit without compromising safety.


Consider the coverage offered by the safety glasses or goggles. Wrap-around designs provide better protection from debris and particles coming from the sides. The safety glasses should cover your face from the eyebrow to the cheekbone and from the bridge of your nose to the oter part of your face. The glasses should fit snugly without any gaps that would permit the entry of flying particles or debris. 


For goggles, check if there is adequate ventilation to prevent fogging, especially in environments with temperature fluctuations.

Purchasing safety glasses

If you need vision correction, you can order prescription safety glasses from your eye care practitioner that meet ANSI safety standards. You can purchase non-prescription safety eyewear from most hardware, building supply, and sporting goods stores.

For mowing lawns and using a power trimmer or other power tools, choose a frame with side shields to protect you from flying particles or larger objects.

Also consider buying an elastic band that is attached to the back of your temples to keep your safety glasses securely on your face while playing sports. 

Fish hooks are a major cause of eye injuries, so for fishing choose a wraparound style with a polarized tint to minimize the glare from the surface of the water. 

Camouflage patterned frames are available for hunting. For sports that require acute vision, consider adding a sport-specific tint.

Gray Tint: Provides neutral color perception and is suitable for a wide range of sports in bright sunlight. It reduces overall brightness without distorting colors, making it a popular choice for outdoor activities like running, cycling, and golf.

Amber/Brown Tint: Enhances contrast and depth perception, making it useful for sports like fishing, skiing, and shooting. It can also be beneficial for activities in hazy or foggy conditions.

Yellow Tint: Enhances visibility in low-light conditions, making it ideal for activities such as hunting, shooting, and indoor sports like basketball or shooting pool.

Rose/Copper Tint: Improves contrast and depth perception, making it suitable for sports like tennis, baseball, and other outdoor activities with varying light conditions.

Green Tint: Provides good color perception and reduces glare, making it suitable for sports like golf, baseball, and water activities.

Mirrored Tint: Reflective coatings that reduce glare and bright light, making them ideal for snow sports like skiing and snowboarding or water activities like surfing and sailing.

Polarized Tint: Reduces glare from reflective surfaces like water, snow, and roads, improving visibility and comfort during outdoor activities like fishing, boating, and driving.

Gregory Scimeca, M.D.
Ophthalmologist and Medical Director
The Eye Professionals

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