What are the Different Types of Eye Protection?

Malcolm Tatum

The use of eye protection is something that occurs in many different settings. You may be required to wear protection for your eyes in a work environment, or while you engage in a hobby or sport. There is also the chance that you wear some type of protection when out during the day. Because of the varied needs for eye protection, they come in several different forms.

Factory workers wear safety glasses to keep foreign substances out of their eyes.
Factory workers wear safety glasses to keep foreign substances out of their eyes.

When it comes to the workplace, eye protection is common in a number of settings. Landscapers often wear safety glasses or goggles while mowing lawns, trimming trees, or working with other large tools. Factory workers wear the glasses in order to minimize the potential for getting a foreign substance into the eye. Welders wear tinted goggles to protect the eyes from the bright light thrown off by the welding rod while in use. Even scientists working in laboratories are likely to wear work goggles as a way of protecting the eyes from chemicals and other compounds they work with daily.

Polarized sunglasses are designed to reduce glare from light that is reflected off of surfaces like water or snow.
Polarized sunglasses are designed to reduce glare from light that is reflected off of surfaces like water or snow.

Eye protection is often considered necessary when engaging in recreational activities. Skiers normally wear goggles that help to protect the eyes from the reflection of sunlight off the snow as well as prevent any foreign substance from coming into contact with the eyes. Cyclists wear motorcycle goggles while riding, and people flying in small open planes wear aviator goggles designed to provide protection from both foreign substances and excess amounts of sunlight. As with some forms of safety protection in the workplace, it is not unusual for these recreational tools to be tinted in order to enhance their function.

Most sunglasses designed for wear at the beach are UV sunglasses.
Most sunglasses designed for wear at the beach are UV sunglasses.

For many people, eye protection comes in the form of sunglasses. While some are simply for looks, many today are designed specifically to protect the eyes from harmful UV rays. Most units designed for driving or wear at the beach are UV sunglasses, and are strong enough to filter out harmful rays without inhibiting the ability to see. In addition to over the counter sunglasses of this type, there are also prescription sunglasses for people with impaired vision.

Safety goggles are required for protecting workers' eyes in the laboratory.
Safety goggles are required for protecting workers' eyes in the laboratory.

The use of eye protection has prevented many accidental injuries to the eyes, as well as minimized the negative impact to the quality of vision over extended periods of time. Whether worn as part of required work apparel, sporting gear, or simply for being out of doors, protective devices simply make sense. Making wise and efficient use of these protective devices helps to improve the chances of enjoying a reasonable quality of vision over a lifetime, helping to enhance the quality of life significantly.

A pair of polarized sunglasses.
A pair of polarized sunglasses.
The eyes should be protected from strong sunlight.
The eyes should be protected from strong sunlight.
Sunglasses help protect a person's eyes from harmful UV rays.
Sunglasses help protect a person's eyes from harmful UV rays.
UV sunglasses.
UV sunglasses.
Goggles are a form of eye protection.
Goggles are a form of eye protection.

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Discussion Comments


I have not used a tanning bed for several years, but know how important it is to use tanning eye protection. Even when I have used eye protection when using a tanning bed I think there is something about the rays that changes your eyes.

The last time I tanned was before we went on a cruise to Hawaii, and my eyes always felt funny when I left the tanning salon. I know some people don't even wear the protective goggles because they don't want the line around their eyes.

This really scares me, and I wonder if they will have any long term damage to their eyes? I also make sure I wear sunglasses when I am outside in the sun. I have a pair of prescription sunglasses that really come in handy. I have found I am much more apt to wear them all the time if they have the right prescription lenses in them.


My husband works in construction so he always has several pairs of safety glasses in his truck. There are many times on his job where he needs to make sure that all of his crew has eye protection safety.

If he ever has to do any welding there is no way he would ever think about doing this without the proper kind of eye protection. More than once, during his years of working construction, has a simple pair of safety glasses saved him and kept his eyes from harm.


I love to ski and find myself wearing ski goggles most of the time. If it is a nice, clear day I might not have them on, but if it is snowing, or I am skiing at night, I wouldn't be without them.

I have to try on several pairs of goggles to find the right ones. Not only do they need to fit right, but I don't want them fogging over. It can be pretty dangerous if you are flying down the hill and you can't see because your goggles are fogged over.

I think that wearing any kind of sports eye protection is important. It only takes a split second for something to happen. I figure I only have one pair of eyes that need to last my lifetime and I want to make sure I take care of them.


@Perdido - I ride on the back of our motorcycle behind my husband, and the eye protection I wear is different than what he wears.

He needs to have the right kind of eye protection that will do more than one thing. He needs to have protection from the sun in his eyes, protection from bugs and any flying debris, and they also need to stay on his head.

He wears eye protection on the motorcycle that takes care of all of these things. He doesn't have to worry that they will fall off or the wind will get underneath them and blow them off his head.

When you are operating a motorcycle, wearing the right kind of eye protection is critical. You have to concentrate on so many other things, that you shouldn't have to worry about your eye glasses falling off or not giving you the protection you need.


My friends aren't bothered by opening their eyes under water, but I have to wear eye protection goggles in order to do this. I once opened my eyes while in my pool, and it felt horrible!

Even though they were covered in water, it felt as if my eyes had suddenly been stripped of all moisture, and when I resurfaced, I couldn't see. I kept rubbing my eyes to make them feel normal again.

I did have some goggles that were just for the eyes, but I had to keep holding my nose and swimming with one hand while wearing these. Since I can't stand to go under without plugging my nostrils, I bought some goggles that cover the nose as well. Now, I can enjoy swimming underwater, free of pain and able to use all my limbs.


@Perdido – I've never been on a motorcycle, but I did try wearing shades while mowing the lawn. It didn't work out so well.

I have allergies, and the grass, dust, and pollen that continually flew up in my face while I mowed were torturing me. The breeze that blew at the time made matters worse.

The stuff got all up in my eyes by blowing around the edges of the shades, and it also penetrated my nose. I had to start wearing both eye and face protection. I put on a mask to block the allergens from my nose and mouth, and I got some wraparound shades to keep the stuff out of my eyes.


Has anyone here ever worn just regular shades while riding a motorcycle? They don't offer a whole lot of protection, do they?

They do shield against the wind hitting you from the front, but the wind whips around the sides of the shades. I had problems with my eyelashes blowing everywhere, which was very uncomfortable and made me blink and rub my eyes a lot. Luckily, I was only a passenger behind the driver, because it would have been hard to drive like this.

It is best to wear eye protection glasses designed specifically for cyclists when riding. These will block out the wind, and they also will prevent little bugs from getting in your eyes.


I have always heard that when shopping for sunglasses, you should check the degree of UV eye protection that they provide. The label should say that they guard against both UVA and UVB rays.

Even most cheap sunglasses meet this standard. I spent just $10 for mine, and they guard against both kinds of rays.

I spend a lot of time in the pool and at the beach in the summer, so UV protection is very important to me. I have gotten red streaks across my eyes before from overexposure to the sun, and it scared me. After that happened, I started wearing sunglasses every time I planned to spend time outdoors.

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