Protective Eyewear

Protective Eyewear

Eye Care > General Eye Care > Protective Eyewear


Human eyes have a certain degree of natural protection, but every year, thousands of people suffer accidental eye injuries. Many injuries could be prevented if people would wear proper eye protection. Here are some types of safety eyewear that can protect your eyes from hazardous situations. Remember to wear the proper protection at work and when working around the house or yard.

Impact resistant spectacles provide limited protection from the front. Prescription eyewear should be impact-resistant, but this does not mean they are shatterproof.

Industrial strength safety glasses provide much more frontal protection against flying objects. They contain specially treated glass, plastic or polycarbonate lenses that meet industrial safety lens standards. Of all the materials, polycarbonate is the most impact resistant. These lenses should be mounted in special safety frames designed to hold the lenses securely in place under heavy impact. Studies show that lenses of more than 2mm thick are less likely to fall out of the frames under heavy impact. For additional protection, various types of side shields can be attached to the sides of the frames. Use with side shields for machining, light grinding or woodworking.

Safety goggles offer significant frontal and side protection against the danger of flying objects. If you wear glasses, you can wear most goggles over your regular glasses for protection and good vision. Use for heavy grinding and chipping.

Face shields protect your eyes from chemical splashes and from some flying particles, but they are not made for heavy impact. If you are working with highly toxic or unstable chemicals, you should wear goggles under the face shield. Use for laboratory work and liquid chemical handling.

Welding goggles and shields contain special absorptive or filter lenses for protection against welding rays, sparks or flying particles. Wear when welding or working around welding.

Sunglasses can protect your eyes against the harmful rays of the sun. To provide adequate protection sunglasses should:

  1. Block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation;
  2. Screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light;
  3. Be perfectly matched in colour and free of distortion and imperfection;
  4. Have lenses that are gray, green or brown. 

If you wear contact lenses, you can now enjoy an added measure of protection. Contact lenses are now available with a UV blocking feature. These contact lenses should not be worn in place of your sunglasses, but do provide additional protection by blocking much of the UV radiation that can seep in from above and below your sunglasses. It is also a good idea to wear a hat or cap with a wide brim if you are in the sun. Sunglasses that are worn while you participate in eye hazardous work or sports should be made of 2mm thick polycarbonate.

Eye protection is also a major concern to all sports participants, especially those playing certain high risk sports. These include tennis, squash, ice hockey, badminton, archery, baseball/softball, fencing, boxing, karate and any sport with a projectile. There are many types of sports eyewear available in either prescription or non-prescription lenses. Ask your optometrist which one is best suited for your sport.

The lenses in your protective eyewear should provide clear, comfortable vision with little distortion. Excessively scratched, pitted or chipped lenses can lose their impact resistance and should be replaced. Eye protective equipment should fit snugly and correctly. Straps, frames and other parts should be durable and fit comfortably. Your optometrist can offer advice about what eye protection you need.