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 what you are doing. Your regular eyeglasses do not protect your eyes from impact, debris or damage. In fact, some eye glasses can shatter if damaged,
causing even more eye injury.
For most repair projects and activities around the home, standard ANSI-approved protective eyewear is enough. 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. The 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 be
Protection at Home
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.
Protection at Work
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.
Protection at Play
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.
- ASTM F803: Eye protectors for selected sports (racket sports, women's lacrosse [see the U.S. Lacrosse website for more details], field hockey, baseball,
- ASTM F513: Eye and face protective equipment for hockey players;
- ASTM F1776: Eye protectors for use by players of paintball sports;
- ASTM F2879: Eye protectors for use by players of airsoft 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.
Wear protective glasses or goggles with UV protection when snow or water skiing. They will help shield your eyes from sunburn and glare.