What Are Safety Glasses and Why Should I Wear Them?

What Are Safety Glasses and Why Should I Wear Them?

Woman wearing safety glasses

Safety glasses are specially designed to keep our eyes safe. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires the use of eye and face protection when workers are exposed to eye or face hazards such as flying objects, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation. Many lenses are made out of impact resistant materials, however safety glasses must undergo specific tests. In this blog, we’ll discuss what makes safety glasses different from other types of eyewear, and why they are so important to use. 

What are safety lenses?

In order to be considered “safety glasses,” both frames and lenses must meet specific standards set forth by OSHA and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). These standards are stricter than required for regular glasses or “dress eyewear”. Under updated ANSI standards, safety lenses fall into two categories:

Basic Impact: Basic impact safety standards dictate that a lens must pass a test known as the “drop ball” test. In this test, a steel ball measuring one inch in diameter is dropped onto the lens from a height of 50 inches. The lens passes the test if it does not break, chip, or crack.  These lenses must be no less than 3.0mm thick, except in prescriptions over +3.00D, which must be no less than 2.5mm thick.

High Velocity: High velocity safety standards involve shooting a quarter inch steel ball at a rate of 150 feet per second. The lens passes the test if it does not break, chip, or crack. These lenses must be no less than 2.0mm thick.

Safety lenses will have the manufacturer’s logo or mark along with a “+”  mark embedded into the lens to indicate that they have been tested for impact resistance. For plastic lenses, this testing is performed in batches and only a statistical sample must be shown to have passed the test.

What are safety frames?

Like lenses, frames must also undergo testing for impact resistance and durability before they can be considered “safety”. 

High Mass Impact: High mass impact standards dictate that a frame must pass a test in which a pointed steel projectile 1 inch in diameter and weighing 17.6 ounces is dropped through a tube from a height of 50 inches onto a safety lens mounted in a safety frame. The frame passes the test if it does not break and the lens does not dislodge from the frame.

High Velocity Impact: During this test, a ¼ inch steel ball is launched at a speed of 150 feet per second from a distance of 10 inches. This is repeated 20 times at different points on the frame. The frame passes the test if it does not break and the lens is not dislodged. 

Frames are also tested for flammability and corrosion resistance.

Safety frames that pass this test will be stamped with Z87 for non-prescription use or Z87-2 for use with prescription lenses.

When do I need safety glasses?

At Work

According to Prevent Blindness America, more than 2,000 people injure their eyes at work each day, and 10-20 % of these injuries will cause temporary or permanent vision loss. It is estimated that 90% of these injuries could be avoided with proper safety eyewear. Eye injuries are commonly caused by:

  • Dust 
  • Chemicals
  • Tools
  • Flying objects
  • Radiation
  • UV

If you work in an environment where one or more of these is present, you should be wearing safety glasses at work. You may even be required to do so by your employer. 

At Home

According to Prevent Blindness America, accidents involving common household products cause 125,000 eye injuries each year. These injuries may be a result of falls, exposure to chemicals, or use of tools and equipment. To prevent eye injuries at home:

  • Wear safety glasses when using tools or operating equipment
  • Wear safety glasses when using household chemicals
  • Read all safety instructions prior to using tools, equipment, or chemicals
  • Do not mix household chemicals
  • Ensure adequate ventilation when using household chemicals
  • Ensure proper lighting in your home
  • Keep stairs safe with handrails

At Play

Alaskans are very active-whether snowmachining in the winter or fishing in the summer, there are lots of opportunities for eye injuries. According to Prevent Blindness America, every 13 minutes an emergency room treats a sports-related eye injury, and 43 percent of sports-related eye injuries occur in children ages 14 and younger. For this reason,  safety eyewear is important for the whole family. Safety glasses come in a variety of sizes and can be made specifically for children. 

It is clear that wearing the correct safety glasses can prevent eye injuries that may lead to blindness. Always wear the appropriate eyewear for your work or activities, and make sure your children have the correct safety eyewear for their needs. Mountain View Optical carries a variety of safety glasses that are ideal for work or play, in styles that will fit the whole family. To schedule an appointment with an optician, call or text (907) 328-2920. Thank you for taking the time to read our blog, and remember to check out all of the entries on our website at www.mountainvieweyes.com/blog.


Prevent Blindness America, https://preventblindness.org/preventing-eye-injuries/

Written by: Gina Stafford, COA, LDO, ABOC

Image: Unsplash


Posted in: Eye Injuries

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