Safety Glasses or Goggles?

The fact you are reading this and perhaps considering wearing safety glasses or safety goggles gives you a head start concerning the safety of your eyesight.

Most people, sadly, do not give their eyes a second thought until it is too late. Here we will look at situations where over prescription safety goggles or over prescription safety glasses could effectively be used and find out which would be the better option in a given circumstance.

I have seen other people compare these two pieces of safety equipment and suggest that using the “wrong one” in a given situation is a bad thing. I am of the opinion that something is better than nothing even if you do not have the optimal equipment available. Having said that, common sense must come into play.

Recently I had a conversation with a woman who informed me she had to order a new pair of safety glasses. She told me she had lent her safety glasses to her husband who ended up accidentally melting part of the equipment, while he was welding! Regular safety glasses are not designed to be used for welding. But, at least he was wearing something over his eyes.

As a minimum, in a working environment, safety glasses should be used. What’s that you say? “I work in an office?” Looking at the computer screen for a prolonged period can have an adverse effect your eyes too! We will look at ways of relieving this and other office hazards to your eyesight a little later.

But First!

What is the real practical difference between a pair of safety glasses and safety goggles? Before we take a look at the differences, let us examine what these pieces of safety equipment are.

Safety glasses

Safety glasses are made from clear polycarbonate plastic resin. They look almost like a regular Typical Pair Of Safety Glassespair of prescription glasses but are designed to be very resilient against unintentional abuse. These one piece molded safety glasses will wrap around the face, shielding the “sides of the eyes”.

They are coated with chemicals in order to reduce fogging and glare. Specialized safety glasses are designed to protect from other potential dangers, such at the brilliance of an electrical arc. While safety glasses tend to be close-fitting to the face, generally speaking there is limited facial contact. The sides of the safety glasses can be vented in order to minimize fogging, although watch out if you are working in a humid environment.

Safety goggles are made from the same material at safety glasses. This safety accessory has a full facial seal, giving better protection to your eyes and surrounding area. While there is only one overall style of safety glasses, there are three different types of safety goggles. It should also be noted that most safety goggles will fit over prescription glasses in any case.

The three different types of available safety goggles are listed below.

Types of Safety GogglesTypical Pair Of Safety Goggles

  • Direct vent. – Direct vent goggles have multiple perforations along the body, in order to promote air flow and help reduce fogging.
  • Indirect vent. – These goggles use covered vents in order to promote air flow.
  • Non-vented – No vents at all and will fog up fairly quickly unless they have anti fog lenses.

Impact Protection.

Safety glasses are primarily designed towards this area of eye protection. Any sudden impact will be mitigated by safety glasses or any of the previously mentioned types of safety goggles. Safety glasses will also protect the eyes and eye area in sports games, such at squash or tennis, these games having balls that could impact the eye if they strike the eye area.

If you find yourself in a situation where there is high velocity debris coming at you on a regular basis, you may want to choose the safety goggles over the safety glasses.

Dust & Liquid Splash.

Safety glasses will have a reduced benefit here. Their design will allow liquid and high velocity dust entry into the eye area. Direct vent safety goggles will also allow a certain amount of dust and liquid into your eyes, however, indirect vent goggles will provide better protection compared to the two previously mentioned options.

Caustic Vapors, Dust, Shavings.

Chemicals, by their very nature will give off vapor. These airborne vapors will not be stopped by safety glasses, direct or indirect vent goggles. The only type of personal protection equipment that will prevent eye injury in these circumstances will be the non-vented safety goggles. As mentioned above goggles form a complete seal around the eyes, the non-vented safety goggles with no vents will allow nothing into your eye area.

Caustic vapors, high velocity dust or shavings (metal or wood) have no way into your eye area or your eyes. These type of safety goggles will fog faster unless you have been supplied with or chosen any one of the models designed to alleviate this condition to a certain degree.

Now What?

Now that we know what we know, we have a better chance of selecting the correct type of eye protection for our purposes. It must be said that the vast majority of people will benefit simply by using safety glasses.

In any given situation, however, there will be some kind of hazard to your vision. Knowing the kinds of hazards you are likely to encounter will help you select the most appropriate and better option for your eye protection.

The type of personal safety equipment you select for your eyes will depend on where you will be when you need them and what you will be doing. Will you be playing Squash? Metal grinding? Sawing lumber? Pouring gas? Or simply performing yard work? Each of the previously mentioned circumstances have inherent dangers to your eyesight.

Office workers will benefit from specially coated safety glasses that reduce glare from lighting and computer screens. Safety glasses used in the office will also protect your eyes from pens, sharp pencils and the combination of staples, rubber bands and paper clips.

Safety glasses and safety goggles have been designed to help reduce potential damage to your eyes and vision during any of the above mentioned activities and more.

The big thing is, you have to be wearing the safety equipment for it to be of any use.

Aim for zero accidents and be safe!


Leave a Comment