Safety glasses side shields protect your eyes from debris that may come at your from the side.
Most safety glasses are made with shatterproof plastic lenses, which can be made from a variety of materials for different impact resistance requirements.
However, common standards require all safety glasses to have a minimum thickness of one millimeter at their thinnest point.
The level of protection provided by safety glasses varies. Most of the ones used in medicine only need to protect the wearer from splattering blood or other fluids, whereas industrial safety glasses need to be much stronger.
These often need to protect your eyes from flying fragments of wood or metal.
The frames on these are much stronger, as well, and often come with safety glasses side shields.
What type of safety glasses should be used in certain situations is determined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
All safety glasses must conform to ANSI Z87.1 standards in the US. Similar standards have been established in other countries.
Some safety glasses are designed to fit over top of prescription glasses. These do not provide as much protection as goggles, or some other types of eye protection, but they do satisfy safety requirements. Their lightweight design increases the chance that people will actually wear them.
Alternatively, you can have your prescription glasses fitted with safety lenses. This is perfectly acceptable in many working environments. In some situations, you may also be required to have safety glasses side shields installed.
Types of Safety Glasses
Many modern safety glasses come in a variety of fashionable designs, unlike their plain predecessors. This is to encourage more people to use them, rather than risk damage to their eyes. Some people are so opposed to wearing glasses, even safety glasses, that they would rather risk eye damage than be seen wearing glasses.
Some of the designs are so stylish you will be proud to wear your safety glasses, even when you don’t have to. The sleek frames are available in different styles and colors, making them just as fashionable as the latest designs in sunglasses. If you must wear safety glasses for your job, you might as well look as good as possible.
Welders often wear special safety glasses called ‘flash goggles’, that protect their eyes from welding flash. The design is similar to wraparound sunglasses, but the lenses are much darker. You might choose to wear these when it is inconvenient or troublesome to wear a full-faced welding helmet. This allows for much more freedom of movement when working in tight situations.
Safety glasses are available in a variety of lens colors and special coatings, for various lighting conditions. This is especially important when working outside. Outdoor workers need extra protection from harmful UV rays or blue light, which causes snow blindness.
Protective eye wear designed for sports are generally made with nylon frames, for flexibility and ease of wear. The flexibility allows them to bend on impact, rather than break and cause even more damage. The drawback of nylon frames is that they can become brittle after a while; adjusting them for a more comfortable fit may be difficult.
The lenses of safety glasses and safety glasses side shields are usually constructed with polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is very lightweight, and extremely shatter resistant, which means it provides excellent impact protection. The optics in polycarbonate lenses, however, are usually quite poor.
To meet with ANSI Z87.1 standards, safety glasses have to pass stringent velocity and high mass testing. The lenses used in protective goggles, welding goggles and face shield windows must be at least 3mm thick.Prescription safety lenses must be at least 2mm thick.
If your job doesn’t require safety glasses side shields all the time, removable ones are available that you simply clip on when needed.