What are the Different Types of Safety Glasses?

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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Lindsay D.
  • Last Modified Date: 15 October 2019
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As many of us discovered in high school shop classes, there is no more important piece of safety gear than a pair of safety glasses. Few work areas are totally free from a flying debris hazard, so almost every employee from the front office to the shipping center should wear some form of safety glasses. But which type of safety glasses are necessary for different workers and visitors?

The most basic form of safety glasses have been around for decades--the utilitarian horn-rimmed version favored by shop teachers everywhere. Reinforced frames hold lenses made from shatterproof glass or a polycarbonate composite material. These safety glasses are sometimes called 'dead on' protection by safety experts because they only protect the wearer from debris coming straight from the front. Fortunately, modern eyewear designers have not only added prescription lenses to these safety glasses, they have also introduced more fashionable frames. Office workers and engineers who must make occasional visits to the shop area might benefit most from personalized 'dead on' safety glasses.

An improvement on the basic framed safety glass design is the addition of side shields. Workers who work in light industrial fields such as bench soldering or assembly can benefit from the extra protection provided. Small pieces of solder or fiberglass dust or other flying debris will be deflected from the side as well as the front. These side-shield safety glasses can also be personalized with prescription lenses and different frame designs.


The next variety of safety glasses resemble over-sized plastic frames and fit over prescription eyewear. These safety glasses are most likely to be given out to visitors during a factory tour or orientation session. They provide coverage for most of the upper face and eye areas.

Ultimately, the most complete eye protection is provide by safety goggles, which are attached around the face with elastic bands. Prescription lenses for safety goggles may be difficult to obtain. Some models can be worn over existing eyewear, however.

Besides the framing and protection element of safety glasses, some workers may want to consider tinted lenses for the transition from inside to outside tasks. Sport shooters often buy high-end safety glasses with prescription lenses and an amber tint for glare reduction. Welders generally require a full face mask and green safety glass lenses when using gas-powered welding equipment.


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Post 4

Goggles come in different shapes and cost vary. Uvex has some cool safety glasses and goggles. I find mine online for my working crew.

Post 3

@ GiraffeEars- The goggles that GenevaMech described are ANSI and CSA certified. You can find them online at sights like Amazon or Safety Company, or you can find them in stores like home depot. They should be fine for any chemical lab situation, but some may not work with other glasses. Typically, the split-lens splash goggles do not work well with glasses, but wraparound lens goggles will work fine. You might want to buy them from a store so you can actually try them on.

Post 2

@ GenevaMech- Do you know if the safety goggles you are talking about are CSA and ANSI certified safety glasses? I have to purchase some for my lab classes, but the ones they sell at the bookstore are hideous. They also are not that comfortable with my glasses. My glasses are not that tall, but they are a little too wide for the boxy goggles they sell at the store.

Post 1

I do chemical lab work for school, and I am required to wear chemical splash safety goggles. I am often in lab for three-hour stretches, so I have found that low profile, form-fitting safety goggles are the most comfortable.

I use goggles that have soft silicon face guards with wraparound lenses. The goggles have good ventilation, and they are about as fashionable as safety glasses and goggles get. They look a little more like ski goggles than lab gear, and they are comfortable. For anyone who is going to be working in a lab, I recommend spending the extra ten dollars to buy a good pair of chemical splash goggles that will conform to your face.

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