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.
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.
To determine if your activity merits eye protection, consider if it will involve:
- Use of hazardous chemicals or other substances that could damage your eyes upon contact;
- Flying debris or other small particles. Note that both active participants and bystanders can be at risk from such activities;
- Projectiles or objects that could fly into the eyes unexpectedly.
Bottom line: use common sense and be EyeSmart, especially if there are children around for whom you're setting an example.
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. The eye-safety standards by sport are as follows:
- ASTM F803: Eye protectors for selected sports (racket sports, women's lacrosse [see the U.S. Lacrosse website for more details], field hockey, baseball, basketball);
- ASTM F513: Eye and face protective equipment for hockey players;
- ASTM F1776: Eye protectors for use by players of paintball sports;
- ASTM F1587: Head and face protective equipment for ice hockey goaltenders;
- ASTM F910: Face guards for youth baseball; and
- ASTM F659: High-impact resistant eye protective devices for Alpine skiing.
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.