Eye injuries can be very serious and may cause loss of vision or even blindness. Eye injuries are almost always preventable if you use proper eyewear. Wear eye protection if you are around dust, flying objects, heat, intense light, or chemicals that could get into your eye. There are different types of eyewear for different activities.
What are the types of safety eyewear?
The 3 main types of safety eyewear are safety glasses, goggles and face shields.
Safety glasses: Safety glasses look like regular glasses but are made from a special kind of plastic that resists impact. For the best protection, you should also get frames that are impact resistant. Wear safety glasses when you need protection from flying debris. These are often used by athletes and craftsman. This material is also used to make eyeglasses.
Goggles: Safety goggles fit snugly around your eyes with a strap and also protect the sides of your eyes. Safety goggles are made of firm plastic or a flexible rubber. Goggles protect against dust, chemicals, and flying debris that could get past safety glasses. If you have a vision problem, you can wear your eyeglasses underneath some types of goggles. You can also get prescription goggles. These are often worn for sports such as racquetball, basketball, and skiing. Goggles are also used for science experiments, construction, and woodworking.
Face shields: Face shields cover your entire face and protect your eyes and face from impact. Some hard hats and helmets for sports such as baseball and hockey have a face shield attached to them. Firefighters and welders wear face shields to protect against glare and sparks. If you wear eyeglasses, you can wear them under the face shield. Face shields can also be worn over safety glasses or goggles.
Do I need safety eyewear?
If your job puts you at risk of eye injury, you should wear safety eyewear. In these cases, federal law requires your employer to provide you with protective eyewear. Look for safety eyewear with “Z87” marked somewhere on the lens or frame. This shows it has met the standards for safety glasses and goggles.
Regular eyeglasses do not protect your eyes as well as safety eyewear. To help prevent severe eye injuries, wear safety eyewear when you:
Do any work around the house that requires hammering, power tools, chemicals, or splatter of any kind
Play paintball, racquetball, lacrosse, hockey, and fast-pitch softball
Shoot firearms or use explosives of any kind
Are in a high-risk area such as a construction site or shooting range
Many eye injuries happen during a break when people take off their eyewear. Keep your safety eyewear on until you are out of the area.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth. Last modified: 2012-12-31 Last reviewed: 2014-10-28
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Safety Eyewear: References
Aghadoost D. Ocular trauma: an overview. Arch Trauma Res. 2014 Jun 29;3(2).American Academy of Ophthalmology. 2012-2013 Basic and Clinical Science Course. San Francisco: American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2012; v.1-13.
Miller NR, Newman NJ, Biousse V and Kerrison JB, eds. Walsh and Hoytâ€™s Clinical Neuro-Ophthalmology, 6th ed. Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2004;v.1-3.
Yanoff M and Duker JS. Ophthalmology, 3rd edition. Philadelphia: Mosby, 2008.