How to choose prescription safety glasses for work

safety glasses

Prescription safety glasses are designed to protect your eyes from injury or long-term damage without compromising your vision whilst you work.

Our eyes are vulnerable to a range of hazards, including heat, light, dust, chemicals, sharp objects and physical impact. As a result, eye injuries are common in high-risk professions such as construction, automotive and chemical manufacturing, electrical work and carpentry.

If you are likely to encounter any one of these hazards in your work, it’s vitally important to invest in the right safety glasses or safety goggles. However, as conditions vary across industries, it can be difficult to work out which prescription safety glasses will be right for you.

If you’re looking for some guidance, check out the article below for everything you need to know on choosing the perfect prescription work safety glasses for your job.

Selecting Lenses for Your Work Safety Glasses

Light Conditions

The most important factor in choosing the right lenses for your safety glasses is the light conditions you are likely to be exposed to at work. Here are some examples:

  • Varied Light Conditions. If you work in varied light conditions, you will need high-contrast lenses. These lenses provide clear definition and depth perception, using a base tint in either rose, copper, brown or amber to protect your eyes.
  • Bright Sunlight. In bright, natural light, your eyes are most effectively protected with a grey or natural base lens which will dull transmitted light, provide excellent clarity, and reduce glare. Additionally, grey base lenses will not alter the appearance of true colour.
  • Working Indoors and Outside. Transition lenses (or photochromic lenses) adjust to different light conditions and are available in a range of different sunglass tints. So if you move from indoor to outdoor environments, the lenses will adjust to protect your eyes from the variation in light.

Lense Materials

No matter what profession you work in, you want the lenses in your work safety glasses to be impact resistant, shatterproof, and as lightweight as possible. There are two great options here:

  • Polycarbonate is not only the strongest lense material available, it’s also shatterproof and extremely light.
  • Trivex is also shatterproof and impact-resistant, but is slightly thicker than polycarbonate and so weighs more.

Choosing Frames For Your Prescription Work Safety Glasses

When it comes to choosing frames for your prescription work safety classes, there’s really only one material worth considering, and that’s plastic. Here are some other factors to consider:

  • Withstanding Impact. Badly designed or poorly reinforced plastic frames can break on impact, becoming serrated and ultimately and causing injury. So it’s worth investing in frames that are acetate or injection molded, both of which are designed to withstand impact.
  • Temple Protection and Peripheral Coverage. A high-wrap frame (with an 8-base curvature or more) will ensure that your prescription safety glasses protect the vulnerable areas around your eyes from objects and materials. A 6-base curvature lens will not provide temple coverage.

Additional Considerations and Warnings

  • Classifications of performance. safety lenses come in two classifications of performance: basic impact and high impact.
  • Digital lenses are curved and so do not have peripheral distortion. They are therefore recommended over flat, non-digital lenses.
  • If you have a strong eyeglass prescription (at least 4.00) you will need a high index lens. A high index lens bends light better than a standard lens and is constructed from a denser material. This reduces the required thickness of the lens in correcting farsightedness or near-sightedness.
  • Avoid Polarized Lenses as they will make it difficult to read an LCD screen. However, as polarized lenses remove the glare from snow, water and pavement, they are fine for sports.
  • Look for the Z87 Mark Posted on the Lens. The ANSI asserts that all safety glasses require a Z87 mark posted on the frame or lens.
  • High Velocity – A “+” mark on a lens indicates that it has passed the high velocity test.
  • Photochromic – A “v” mark shows that a lens is photochromic
  • Special Tint – An “s” mark indicates that it contains a special tint.


About the Author

Darren Williams is the director and owner with over 30 years’ experience as an ophthalmic technician at which provides affordable, high-quality glasses and sunglasses for men and women.