Most eye injuries are preventable. Simply wear the right kind of safety glasses during risky activities. If you wear eyeglasses, know that they don't protect your eyes from impact, debris or damage. In fact, some glasses can shatter if damaged, causing even more eye injury. Protective eyewear should be made from polycarbonate material. Polycarbonate lenses resist shattering and can provide UV (ultraviolet light) protection.
Proper Eye Protection Depends on the Situation
The type of eye protection you need depends on what you are doing. Anything from simply playing paintball to attending public protests have different protection needs. Safety glasses used at home should meet the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards. For many work situations, that same protection is enough, but there are important exceptions. Sports eye protection should meet the specific requirements of that sport.
Eye Protection at Home: Safety Glasses, Goggles and Other Protective Eyewear
Every household should have at least one pair of ANSI-approved protective eyewear. You should wear it 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. You can buy ANSI-approved protective eyewear from most hardware stores nationwide.
You should use eye protection if 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.
Eye Protection at Work: Safety Glasses, Face Shields, Welding Glasses and More
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) determines the eye protection needed to do your job safely. Check with your company's human resources department or whoever oversees OSHA compliance. They will tell you what standards apply to your job.
OSHA standards often require the same ANSI-certified eye protection at work that you should use at home. An exception is welding, which requires more eye and face protection.
Eye Protection at Play: Face Guards, Visors and Other Sports Eye Safety Equipment
Sports have specific requirements for eye protection appropriate for that sport. Your sport's governing body may set and certify these requirements. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) may as well. In some cases, both organizations may have requirements.
ASTM sets the standards that eye protection must meet to prevent eye injuries in your sport. We have listed some eye-safety standards by sport below. This is not a comprehensive list. Search the ASTM website to see if they provide a standard for your sport.
Racket sports, baseball, basketball, soccer, field hockey, and women's lacrosse
- ASTM F513: Eye and face protective equipment
- ASTM F1587: Head and face protective equipment for ice hockey goaltenders
Skiing and snowboarding
- ASTM F659: High-impact resistant eye protective devices
The Academy recommends protective glasses or goggles with UV protection when snow or water skiing. They will help shield your eyes from sunburn and glare.