Safety Glasses FAQ

Q. I wear contacts. They should provide enough protection, right?

A. Wrong. Contact lenses can be used in the workplace but ONLY when worn with other appropriate eye protection. By themselves, they do not provide protection in an industrial environment. However, fears that contacts increase the likelihood and/or severity of injury in the workplace are not founded. Contact lenses can be worn in most workplace environments when used with appropriate protective eyewear that conforms to the ANSI Z87.1-2003 and the CSA Z94.3-2002 standards. However, dusty or chemical environments may present an additional hazard, and your employer may not allow the use of contacts.

Q. So how do I know which kind of eyewear I need at work? Are sideshields mandatory? What if there aren’t any flying objects where I work? Couldn’t I just wear a faceshield?

A. Eye and face protective equipment is required by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA – which is part of the government’s Department of Labor – see when there is a reasonable probability of preventing injury when such equipment is used. According to the BLS, most eye injuries, for those wearing eye protection, occurred because the protector did not provide sufficient angular coverage. And according to the American National Standards Institute ("ANSI") (, which administers and coordinates the US voluntary standardization and conformity assessment system, use of protectors providing side protection should be encouraged whenever practical. And it's not just visible objects that you should be worried about, but types of invisible radiation as well. For example, OSHA says you should wear a helmet or goggles with special filter lenses if you are welding or near someone else who is welding.

Faceshields are a good choice when the hazard is more severe. They provide eye and face protection but they must be used with appropriate protective eyewear or goggles.

Q. My vision is not 20-20. Do they make prescription protective eyewear?

A. Yes. Workers who need protective eyewear with corrective lenses must utilize special optical frames that, when fitted with corrective lenses, satisfy applicable ANSI ( and CSA ( standards for protective eyewear. Better suppliers offer metal and plastic frames fitted with the appropriate prescription lenses. Full-service high-quality manufacturers provide, heavy-duty "carriers" that can be fitted with Rx lenses.(Uvex has, for example, an Rx insert option on several models.) Uvex also offers OTG "over the glass" eyewear and safety goggles. These OTG styles fit comfortably over most prescription eyewear. Some Rx prescriptions, depending on the strength, can be edged and fitted into an Rx carrier, like the Astrospec 3003. You must make sure that both the frames and prescription lenses meet the recently updated ANSI Z87.1-2003 standard.

Q. Does protective eyewear that has scratches or pits need to be replaced? Shouldn’t the lenses be made of high-grade industrial materials?

A. The answer is "absolutely" for both questions. Protective eyewear with scratched and pitted lenses (particularly glass) or damaged frames are less resistant to impact and should be replaced. All protective eyewear should be cleaned, inspected, repaired and, if necessary, replaced on a regular basis. Polycarbonate is the most popular lens material and it is quite strong. In uncoated form, it is soft and prone to scratching. Coating the lens with a hardcoat makes it more durable and scratch resistant. Think of your eyewear as your own personal windshields for impact protection and clarity of sight.

Last Updated 7/7/2009 - Some information provided by Uvex (