Eye protection means more than just wearing the contact lenses or glasses you may use for vision correction. The type of eye protection needed will depend on the activity you are involved in. Your regular eyeglasses do not protect your eyes from impact, debris or damage. In fact, some eye glasses can shatter if damaged, causing even more eye injury.
For most repair projects and activities around the home, standard ANSI-approved protective eyewear will be sufficient. For many work situations, the same protection you use at home will suffice, but there are important exceptions you need to know about. Sports eye protection should meet the specific requirements of that sport; these requirements are usually established and certified by the sport's governing body and/or the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
Protection in the Home
The American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Society of Ocular Trauma recommend that every household have at least one pair of ANSI-approved protective eyewear to be worn when doing projects or activities that could create a risk for eye injuries at home.
Choose protective eyewear with "ANSI Z87.1" marked on the lens or frame. This means the glasses, goggles or face shield meets the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z87.1 safety standard. ANSI-approved protective eyewear can be easily purchased from most hardware stores nationwide.
You should use eye protection of the activity involves:
- Hazardous chemicals or other substances that could damage your eyes upon contact
- Flying debris or other small particles that could hit participants or bystanders
- Projectiles or objects that could become projectiles and fly into the eyes unexpectedly
Bottom line: use common sense, especially if there are children around. You should protect them, and set an example by making a smart choice.
Protection at Work
The eye protection needed to do your job safely is determined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). To find out what standards apply, check with your company's human resources department, or whoever is charged with overseeing OSHA compliance.
With the exception of welding, which requires additional eye and face protection, OSHA standards may often require the same ANSI-certified eye protection at work that you should use at home.
Protection at Play
The eye protection needed to prevent eye injuries in your sport is determined by various standards set by ASTM. Some eye-safety standards by sport are listed below. This is not a comprehensive list.
Protective glasses or goggles with UV protection should be worn when snow or water skiing. They will help shield the eyes from sunburn and glare.