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, from attending public protests to playing paintball. 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. Protective eye wear should be made from polycarbonate material because it resists shattering and can provide UV (ultraviolet light) protection.

For most repair projects and activities around the home, it’s enough to wear safety glasses that meet the criteria set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). 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 involved.

At Home: Safety Glasses, Goggles and Other Protective Eyewear

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.

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
At Work: Face Shields, Welding Glasses and More

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. 

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.

At Play: Face Guards, Visors and Other Sports Eye Protection

ASTM sets the standards that eye protection must meet to prevent eye injuries in your sport.  Listed below are 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 field hockey, baseball, basketball);
  • 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 air-soft 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.
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Wear protective glasses or goggles with UV protection when snow or water skiing. They will help shield your eyes from sunburn and glare.

Originally Posted: March 23, 2019 Source: American Academy of Ophthalmology,  OSHA & ASTM. Written by Mr. D. Turbert and Dr. Pagen-Duran