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In many industries like construction, manufacturing, and others, employers require their employees to use safety eyewear as part of their personal protective equipment, or PPE. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for workers to avoid wearing their protective eyewear. 

There could be a few different reasons for this. The most common reasons a worker may avoid their safety eyewear could be:

  • The user finds them uncomfortable
  • They negatively impact the user’s vision, 
  • The user doesn’t like the style of their safety eyewear

Leaving your safety glasses at home puts your vision at risk. Approximately 90% of eye injuries are totally preventable with the appropriate eyewear. 

Rather than choosing not to wear your safety eyewear, look into what solutions are available. There are far more options than you probably realize. 

Let’s talk about some of the ways you can make your safety eyewear work well for you.

Comfort

A group of workers were polled about their use of safety eyewear in the workplace. 98% of them said they did not always wear their protective eyewear when they were supposed to. Of that 98%, 40% said they did not wear the appropriate eyewear because it was uncomfortable.

If your safety goggles aren’t comfortable, you just won’t wear them. Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking for comfortable eyewear.

The Right Fit

Your safety glasses will not feel quite the same as your everyday glasses. The frames and the lenses are thicker and sturdier so they can stand up to impact.

Even though it feels a little bit different, your protective eyewear should not hurt. Wearers sometimes complain that their safety eyewear pinches their nose, their temples, or behind their ears. This indicates that your eyewear does not fit you properly.

Your face is unique. Finding comfortable PPE might be more difficult for you than it is for other people. But you still need to wear it. 

Your optician can help you find safety eyewear that meets your industry requirements and fits comfortably on your face.

Security

Safety eyewear can’t work effectively if you have to mess with it all day. Your safety glasses or goggles should fit securely to your face. Of course, they should not hurt or pinch, but they should fit snugly enough to prevent slipping or falling off.

If you’re having trouble finding eyewear that fits securely and comfortably, you may want to try a pair that uses a strap, similar to goggles.

Craftsman wearing protective eyewear while working working with power tools

Light Conditions

Squinting in the sunlight is not comfortable, and it definitely isn’t safe when you’re on the job. When you invest in safety eyewear, you should consider the light conditions during an average day at work. For example, if you work outside, you should ensure your lenses offer UV protection. Polarized lenses are another excellent option to reduce glare.

It’s also important to make sure your protective glasses will work well regardless of the weather. You do not want to use a heavily-tinted lens on an overcast day, which could impact your ability to see clearly.

Clarity

You rely on your vision to do your job safely and effectively. Without clear vision, it’s far too easy to miss things or misjudge your environment, which puts your safety and the safety of others at risk. That’s why clear vision is so vital for safety eyewear.

Anti-Fog Design

Fog can develop on both sides of eyewear lenses. When eyewear isn’t properly ventilated, moisture from your body can condense on the inside of your lenses with nowhere to escape. And when your glasses or goggles are exposed to steam, that steam can cling to both sides of your lenses, making it very difficult to see.

Anti-fog lenses are designed to prevent fog on both sides of the lens. They are coated in a special substance that prevents moisture from sticking to the lens and eliminating fog before it has a chance to develop.

If you’re not exposed to steam or moisture all that often, ventilated goggles may be enough to prevent fog build-up on the inner side of the lenses. Different types of safety goggles have different ventilation designs. If you work with chemicals, you should invest in eyewear with indirect ventilation. Indirect ventilation reduces the risk of potentially harmful substances accidentally entering your goggles. 

Prescription Lenses

If you already wear prescription glasses, safety eyewear can be a pain, especially if your protective eyewear doesn’t fit comfortably over your everyday glasses.

Some people may consider their normal glasses to be protection enough, and forego protective eyewear altogether. The truth is that your average prescription glasses are not enough to protect your eyes. Chemicals or debris can easily reach your eyes from any number of chemicals. Your average prescription lenses also are probably not shatter-proof. If your frames or lenses break on your face, they could cause even more damage.

However, you don’t have to choose between safety eyewear and prescription eyewear. Protective lens technology is highly advanced and can accommodate most prescriptions. Even more complicated lenses, like bifocals, can be reproduced for a pair of safety glasses.

Investing in prescription lenses for your safety eyewear means you don’t ever have to compromise between eye safety and clear vision.

Scratch-Resistant Lenses

Safety eyewear is an investment. Ideally, if you take care of your glasses or goggles, they should last you quite a long time. However, flying debris, accidentally dropping your glasses, and other mishaps can happen. After a while, you may start to notice scratches on your lenses.

You can probably wear scratched glasses for a while. But, if the lenses continue to develop new scratches, eventually, you’ll have a hard time seeing through them.

Scratch-resistant lenses allow you to get more use out of your protective eyewear without straining your eyes. While scratches may still develop, your lenses will be far less prone to them, so they should occur less frequently.

Style

When it comes to protective eyewear, safety should always be the number one concern. However, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with wanting to look good as well.

Stylish safety glasses sitting in a protective case

If your protective eyewear style is important to you, some options can make your PPE stand out. Different frame shapes and colours make it easier to create a signature look. While safety eyewear will most likely not look like normal glasses or sunglasses, they can have a stylized look. Safety glasses can be made in retro, sporty, and even steampunk styles. 

As long as the style doesn’t compromise your safety, there’s nothing wrong with expressing your personality through your protective eyewear.

Eye Safety Should Always Be Taken Seriously

You rely on your eyes for work, hobbies, communication, and even just relaxing. While it may not seem like a big deal to neglect your protective eyewear, it could literally change your entire future.

Take the time to find out what safety eyewear options are available to you. Your optician can help you find the ideal pair of safety glasses that balance your vision, comfort, and safety.

Written by Kevin Hesterman

DR. KEVIN HESTERMAN
Dr. Hesterman was born in Regina, Saskatchewan. He graduated from optometry at Waterloo in 2000. He and his wife, Rhonda, have three children. He enjoys swimming, biking, and running, having completed several triathlons. Hiking, skiing, and playing the piano and guitar are other interests. He has volunteered with Big Brothers and Big Sisters and was on the executive committee for Optometry Giving Sight, a charity raising money for third world optometry. Dr. Hesterman is currently on the executive council for the Alberta Association of Optometrists.

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