7 Easy Steps to Choose the Right Safety Glasses for You

7 Easy Steps to Choose the Right Safety Glasses for You

There are a lot of options when it comes to safety glasses like brands, frame design, lens colors, lens material, and technologies. You can be overwhelmed so quickly when you are trying to choose the right safety glasses for you. 

Everyone has his own situation and needs, if one pair of safety glasses are right for one job or one situation that may not be the case for the other job or situation. Choosing the right safety glasses for you is not so hard but it needs some help.

But don’t worry I’m here to help you. I have broken down all the steps that you need to choose the right safety glasses for you in only 7 steps. You will learn all the important things about safety glasses, their frames, lenses, what they are for, and for who?

The 7 ways to choose the right safety glasses for you are: identify your activity, know the eye-related risk in it, choose safety glasses that are ANSI Z78 approved, choose the right lens tint and frame, and finally you can choose if you want them with prescription lenses or not.

1. Know What Activities You Need the Safety Glasses for

Know What Activities You Need the Safety Glasses for

The first step for choosing the right safety glasses is to know what activities you are involved in. maybe you are, a mechanic, a welder, a scientist, a shooter, a fisherman, a soldier, or maybe you are doing housework or any other activities that require safety glasses for eye protection.

The point of knowing what activities you’re involved in is to know what type of standards, frame, and lenses you need in your new safety glasses. Sometimes you will only need one and sometimes you will need two pairs for each of the activities you practice.

For example: 

  • A scientist will need safety glasses that will protect him from chemicals or any other liquid splash that can hurt his eyes or make him blind permanently (Z87 mark). 
  • A mechanic will need impact-resistant (Z87+ mark) safety glasses that will protect him from a wrench or any of his tools if they drop from above toward his eyes. 
  • Soldiers need ballistic safety glasses to protect them during combat on the battlefield because it is super resistant and durable.
  • A fisherman needs safety glasses (Z87 mark) with polarized lenses to reduce the glare and give a better vision underwater to see fish and objects.

I think you get it, any activity needs specific requirements.

Let us talk about one pair of safety glasses for multiple activities.

One Pair of Safety Glasses for Multiple Activities

For example, you are a shooter and a fisherman. In this situation, you only need one pair of impact-resistant safety glasses marked with “Z87+” that will protect your eyes during shooting and you need the lenses to be polarized because it reduces the glare giving you better vision and the ability to see fish underwater.

2. Identify the Hazard That Occurs at Your Workplace 

Identify the Hazard That Occurs at Your Workplace 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), each year, Between 20,000 and 30,000 eye injuries occur in the workplace. All these injuries would have been prevented just by the use of proper ANSI Z87 safety glasses. 

You are responsible for your eye’s safety, you should Identify the hazards that occur or that can possibly occur at your workplace to prevent them from injuring your eyes. 

Let me help you by breaking down some hazards that occur in some workplaces, so you can feel confident while choosing the right safety glasses for you.

Some Hazards That Can Occur in the Workplace

  • Laboratory workers – Dust, liquids, gas, chemical splashes. (ANSI Z87 safety glasses are required)
  • Mechanical – Iron dust, small flying metal objects. (ANSI Z87+ safety glasses are required)
  • Metal industries – Hot liquids, metal splashes, heat radiation, UV radiations during welding. (ANSI Z87+ safety glasses are required)
  • Military & Tactical operations – Dust, smoke, flying debris, fragments during combat. (Ballistic Safety glasses are required)
  • Construction work – Dust, sharp tools, flying/falling objects. (ANSI Z87+ safety glasses are required)
  • Mining – Chemicals and dust. (ANSI Z87+ safety glasses are required)

After reading all those hazards that can occur at your workplace, I’m sure that you are now thinking about getting a pair of ANSI Z87 approved safety glasses. Later I will speak more about those marks “Z87”, “Z87+”, “Z87-2”, and “Z87-2+”.

4. Understand Safety Glasses Protection Standards

Understand Safety Glasses Protection Standards

Civilian ANSI Z87.1 Standard

The most popular and widely used eye protection standard for civilian use in the USA is ANSI Z87, this standard is required in all safety glasses for a workplace environment that has a risk of eye injuries.

ANSI stands for The American National Standards Institute is a private non-profit organization that creates uniform testing standards and guidelines for a variety of products and equipment used by businesses in nearly every sector.

ANSI Z87 classifies eye protection as impact-rated or non-impact-rated. The Impact-rated safety glasses are marked with the “Z87+” or “ANSI Z87+” mark on the lenses or on the frame. For non-impact rated safety glasses you will find the “Z87” or ”ANSI Z87” mark Without the plus sign “+” on the lenses or on the frame.

How Can Safety Glasses Be ANSI Z87 Rated and Approved?

For any pair of safety glasses to be ANSI Z87 approved, it should pass certain tests successfully.

The four most important tests that should the safety glasses pass are:

  • High Impact Test
  • High Mass Test
  • Dust Test
  • Liquid Splash Test

I have a dedicated article about ANSI Z87.1 certification and how it works you can check it for more information.

Where to Buy Ansi Z87 Rated Safety Glasses

ANSI Z87 safety glasses are available online.  Check those websites:

  • Safety Glasses Usa
  • Safety Gear Pro
  • Sport Rx
  • Rx Safety

Military Ballistic MIL-PRF-31013 Standards

Ballistic military and tactical safety glasses have different standards, both civilian and military safety glasses are ANSI Z87.1 approved. The major difference between the two is that the US army requires more strength and durability from manufacturers. The MIL-PRF-31013 standards test produces approximately 7 times more impact energy than the ANSI Z87.1 standard. 

How Do Ballistic Safety Glasses Are Tested?

Ballistic-rated safety glasses that are approved by the US military should exceed those tests.

  • All ANSI Z87.1 tests
  • 0.15 caliber test
  • T37 shaped projectile test
  • Anti-Fog Test
  • UV rays protection test
  • Environmental stability test

Who Should You Own a Pair of Ballistic-rated Safety Glasses?

Ballistic safety glasses are made for high impact resistance. They are primarily designed to be worn by soldiers for combat purposes, to protect their eyes from debris and fragments from an IED or any other explosion. You can still use them in civilian settings to add another layer of protection.

How to Make Sure Your Safety Glasses Are Ballistic Rated?

There are two ways to make sure your safety glasses are ballistic rated. First, check if those safety glasses are listed in the Authorized Protective Eyewear List  (APEL) by Peo soldier, the second way is to check out the product description to see if they are ballistic rated.

Where to Buy Ballistic-rated Safety Glasses?

Ballistic safety glasses are available for sale online. Check those websites: 

  • Safety Glasses Usa
  • Safety Gear Pro
  • Sport Rx
  • Rx Safety

5. Get to Know the Types of Safety Glasses, Frames, and Lenses

Get to Know the Types of Safety Glasses, Frames, and Lenses

Once you have identified the hazards that can occur in your workplace, then you are ready to choose which type of safety glasses will suit your needs.

There are a lot of brands that offer safety glasses in many designs for different situations, we will start by checking some brands then we will dive into the frames and lenses.

The Best 5 Safety Glasses Brands

Wiley X Safety Glasses

Wiley X is one of the best safety glasses brands in the market. They have a lot of options to choose from, they come in different styles, frames, and lenses. All safety glasses from Wiley X are ANSI Z87+ approved. Men and women can find the right safety glasses for them from the wide range of options that Wiley x offers.

Wiley X is also the number one in the military ballistic safety glasses field, they were out there for over 30 years serving the military and Government, Law Enforcement, Fire, and EMS professionals. 

I put together the best 10 Wiley X safety glasses for men and women and if you are interested in ballistic military safety glasses from Wiley X I have a list too.

Oakley Safety Glasses

Oakley safety glasses is one of the best brands on the market, they offer a wide range of safety glasses for men and women. All their safety glasses are Z87 and Z87+ approved, military ballistic safety glasses are also available in their collection. 

Oakley is well known for its high quality, comfort, and durability. Their safety glasses are not cheap but they are worth the money.

Smith Safety Glasses

The Smith safety glasses brand started in 1965 when Dr. Bob Smith started building sealed thermal lens goggles in his garage and selling them out of his van on weekend ski trips in Utah and Colorado. 

Today Smith is a well-known company that manufactures high-quality safety glasses and other eyewear for men and women in different frames and high-quality lenses.

The Elite category of the Smith collection offers military-grade impact protection, amazing comfort, and functional safety glasses that can be used in tactical situations, military operations and also can be used by workers to protect their eyes from workplace hazards.

ESS Safety Glasses

ESS safety glasses are designed for professionals in the world’s toughest careers: military, law enforcement, and firefighting. The brand offers a wide range of options for men and women, using durable frame materials and high-quality polycarbonate lenses for razor-sharp optics and they look so cool. 

All the military ballistic safety glasses from ESS are U.S. military standards and ANSI Z78+ approved.

Edge Safety Glasses

Edge Safety Glasses is one of the best brands in the eyewear protection industry. The design and quality are superior and they believe that the quality shouldn’t be exclusive, they promise their customers to access protective, high-performance safety glasses. 

They are made to the most exacting safety standards in the industry and boast a sleek, modern look in several wrap-around frame designs. Durable frame materials and high-quality polycarbonate lenses. 

Edge offers a wide range of options for men and women in any situation including military settings.

Lens Tint, Materials & Coating


Polycarbonate Lenses

Polycarbonate is a resistant and lightweight type of plastic that was first developed for the military during World War I and now it is the standard material used in most safety glasses in the market for both civilian and military settings.

Polycarbonate lenses are about 10 times more impact resistant than glass and some other plastics lenses, they are inexpensive and block 99.9% of UVA/UVB rays without any extra or special coatings.

NXT/Trivex Lenses

Trivex is another lightweight material like Polycarbonate but it offers superior optical clarity, scratch resistance, photochromic performance, and impact resistance. Many manufacturers have started using it. The Trivex lens’s downside is that it is a bit more expensive than the other material.

CR-39 Plastic Lenses

Plastic lenses built using CR-39 “Columbia Resin #39” material is a plastic developed in the early 1940s. It is a perry good scratch resistance material, inexpensive, and works well with all prescriptions.

But the downside is that he’s not an impact resistance so he cannot pass the ANSI Z87.1 impact test.CR-39 plastic lens is often used in sunglasses, not safety glasses.

Glass Lenses

Glass lenses can be a little bit good for sunglasses but for safety requirements no, I will never recommend them. Glass can be so dangerous if it breaks, yes glass gives crystal-clear optics,scratch-resistance, and works well with all prescriptions. but they are heavy and not shatterproof.

High-index Plastic Lenses

The high index plastic lenses are usually used in stronger prescriptions because of their thinner nature. High index plastic material was built with a special polycarbonate and many manufacturers now offer high-index plastic lenses in a range of thicknesses but they cannot stand up to high impact tests; this is why they are not used in ANSI Z87 Safety glasses.

Lens Coating

Choosing the right lens coating is a crucial step toward finding the right safety glasses for your job, your workplace hazards, and your needs.

Anti-fog Coating

There is nothing more distracting and frustrating than safety glasses that fog up. Sometimes having a foggy lens can be so dangerous, especially for industry workers, police officers, and doctors. People that wear face masks have this problem too. By only using Anti-fog coating you avoid all those problems

Anti-scratch Coating

Because no lens material is 100% scratch-proof, not even glass. Anti-scratch coating gives materials like polycarbonate, high-index, CR-39 Plastic, and Trivex more resistance from scratching. Anti-scratch coating is the best choice for kids and workers in different sectors.

Anti-reflective (AR) Coating

Anti-reflective coating (also called AR coating or anti-glare coating) is worth having because it eliminates the reflection or the glare made by the lens and makes you see better, especially while driving at night. 

The coating makes the lenses look invisible since they refract light more efficiently so people who are speaking to you can focus on your eyes without being distracted by the glare reflected by the lenses. 

Polarized Coating

Polarized Coating is great for the total elimination of glare by blocking the horizontal light coming from reflective objects and surfaces such as water, snow, and glass. Glare is distracting and sometimes it can be harmful. 

Fishermen, skiers, drivers and many other sports are using Polarized safety glasses to protect their eyes and see better, especially under the water surface.

Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation Protective Coating

Some lens material has UV protection built-in like High-index lenses and polycarbonate but for the CR-39 plastic lenses, UV coating needs to be added on top. Ultraviolet Radiation comes from many sources including the sun and overexposure to UV radiation can cause several types of eye disease and sometimes permanent blindness. 

So it is wise to make sure your safety glasses are UV protected. Make sure that there is the “2C” mark on the lenses or the frame or by reading the product description.

6. They Can Come With Prescription Lenses

Are you someone who wears prescription glasses? When you have two choices, choose a pair of Over-Prescription Safety Glasses that you will wear over your prescription glasses or you can order a pair of prescription safety glasses. 

Let us see the difference between them and which one is the best for you.

Over-Prescription Safety Glasses

The first thing I want you to know is that Over-Prescription Safety Glasses are much cheaper than Prescription Safety Glasses; their price can start from $1 up to $5 per pair.

Over-Prescription Safety Glasses are ANSI Z87 approved, impact-resistant, scratch-resistant and they can come with polarized and Anti-fog lenses. 

The downside of Over-Prescription Safety Glasses is that sometimes they can be uncomfortable and their style and look are not the fanciest because they are roomy to give space to your regular prescription glasses.

But if you are on a budget or you think that you are not so much interested in looking good or stylish with them, then yeah Over-Prescription is the right choice for you.

Prescription Safety Glasses

Prescription safety glasses are safety glasses that come with prescription lenses so you can use them as your regular prescription glasses and as safety glasses. The offers the same protection against impact as any other safety glasses plus crystal clear vision with eyesight correction.

Before buying any prescription safety glasses please check this article “Can You Get Safety Glasses With Prescription Lenses?“. This article will help you to make the right decision. 

The downside of Prescription Safety Glasses is two. One they are a little bit expensive, twosome prescriptions cannot be implemented in the lenses so you will need an RX insert for safety glasses.

7. Fit and Comfort Are Important

The last important step while choosing the right safety glasses for you is the fit. After reading the previous fourth steps you narrow down what activities you are involved in, you Identify the hazard that occurs during these activities, you’ve understood the safety standards that are required in safety glasses and you know which lenses are right for you, Good.

Now we will see how safety glasses should fit your face. Remember if it doesn’t fit you right it will not protect your eyes and it will cause you eye strain and headaches.

How Should Safety Glasses Fit?

  1. The safety glasses should be comfortable, they shouldn’t be so tits. If there are any pressure points on the side of the head or behind the ears.
  1. Your nose piece should be comfortable and contact your nose without pinching or falling. If so then the glasses are too big for your face.
  1. Try to see in front of you. The safety glasses shouldn’t break your overall vision. You should have a wide vision, wider than normal glasses.
  1. Safety glasses frame should fit close to the face without hitting your eyelashes. The space between your frames and your face should be less than one inch.
  1.  The lens should cover all your eyebrows. So your vision will not be blocked. Try to move your eyes without turning your head and see if everything is clear and your vision is not disturbed by the glass or the frame.
  1. Try to move your head in any direction you want if the safety glasses stay in place without moving, they are the best fit for you if not try another one.

Frequently Asked Questions About Safety Glasses

What Material Is Used for Safety Glasses?

Safety glasses used polycarbonate plastic in the lenses because of their strength and lightweight nature.

Which Safety Glass Lenses Are the Most Impact-resistant?

Polycarbonate safety glasses are the most impact-resistant in the market.

Are All Safety Glasses Polycarbonate?

No, not all safety glasses came with polycarbonate lenses, some came with glasses and some came with other types of plastic, the only thing that makes safety glasses safe is the protection standard. You should always check if the glasses are marked with “Z87” on the lens or the frame.

Are Safety Glasses Scratch-proof?

Not all safety glasses are scratch-proof. You need to make sure to read the product description to see if the lenses are coated with an anti-scratch coating.


Wearing the right safety glasses can prevent your eyes from injuries that can potentially cause permanent blindness. The things to consider before buying any pair of safety glasses are identifying your activity, knowing the eye-related risk in it, choosing safety glasses that are ANSI Z78 approved, choosing the right lens tint and frame, and finally, you can choose if you want them with prescription lenses or not.

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