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An airman using a welding mask. Failing to use proper eye protection when welding may lead to blindness.

Eye protection is protective gear for the eyes, and sometimes face, designed to reduce the risk of injury. Examples of risks requiring eye protection can include: impact from particles or debris, light or radiation, wind blast, heat, sea spray or impact from some type of ball or puck used in sports.

Eye protection are typically separated into categories based on the style of eye wear and the hazard they are designed to reduce. There categories include: Spectacles with side protection; Goggles; Welding helmet; Welding Hand Shields; Non-Rigid Helmets (hoods); Face shield; and Respirator Face pieces.



Examples of different styles of safety glasses

Main article: Glasses

Safety glasses or spectacles, although often used as a catch-all term for all types of eye protection, specifically revers to protective equipment that closely resembles common eye wear. To meet most national standards, spectacles must include side shields to reduce the ability of debris to get behind the lenses from the side. Safety glasses can often mount insert frames to mount prescription corrective lenses for users with suboptimal vision. Such insert frames are mounted behind the protective lens. In some applications, regular eye wear, if manufactured from high-impact materials, can be worn with removable side shields. Oversized spectacles are also manufactured, designed to sit over the users normal eye wear.


Cover style safety Goggles

Main article: Goggles

Empiral Vision Grey Goggle
Empiral Vision Grey Goggle

Goggles are forms of protective eyewear that enclose the eye area in order to prevent particulates, infectious fluids, or chemicals from striking the eyes. Goggles come in two styles, eyecup goggles, and cover goggles. Eyecup goggles completely cover the eye socket to give all-round protection. They have adjustable or elasticized headbands and often are equipped with ventilation ports to allow air in and prevent fogging. For example, swimming goggles to protect the eyes from salt or chlorine. Cover goggles are designed to be worn over eye wear. Like eyecup goggles, they have adjustable or elasticized headbands and are equipped with direct or indirect ventilation ports to allow air in and prevent fogging. While both models keep out large particles, indirect-vented goggles are better at keeping out liquids and dusts.

Welding helmets and shields

Speedglas welding helmet.

Main article: Welding helmet

A welding helmet is a type of headgear used when performing certain types of welding to protect the eyes, face and neck from flash burn, ultraviolet light, sparks, infrared light, and heat. A welding hand shield is a metal plate containing the same protective lens as a welding helmet with a handle on the bottom, intended to be held up in front of the face while working.


Sand Blasting in protective hood

Hoods (or non-rigid helmets) come with impact-resistant windows usually made of plastic or similar material. An air-supply system may also be incorporated. Hoods are made of non-rigid material for use in confined spaces and of collapsible construction for convenience in carrying and storing.

Face shields

An Electrician's Mate wearing a face shield while checking for bad fuses.

Main article: Face shield

A face shield is a device used to protect wearer's entire face (or part of it) from hazards such as impact, splash, heat, or glare. With face shields, as with welding helmets and hand shields, the user is continually lifting and lowering the visor. To protect the eyes when the visor is lifted, spectacles should be worn underneath.

Respirator face pieces

Main article: Respirator

Full face shield respirator

A respirator is a device designed to protect the wearer from inhaling particulate matter, including airborne microorganisms, fumes, vapours and gases.

Protection categories

Flying objects

Insects like flies, bees, and wasps can fly at high speeds and come into contact with your eyes. Their wings or stingers can cause irritation or even scratch your cornea, which can be painful and potentially cause long-term damage.

Small projectiles and fragments generated from processes like grinding or machining can have the potential to penetrate some types of protective eye-wear. In the United States the ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2020 standard is used to certify protective eye-wear which is capable of protecting from these hazards.

Flying particles, dust, and wind

Debris such as dust, dirt, and small rocks can be picked up by the wind and fly into your eyes. This can cause discomfort and potentially lead to a corneal abrasion or infection.

Heat, sparks, and splash from molten materials

UV radiation

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can also harm your eyes. Prolonged exposure to UV rays can cause cataracts, macular degeneration, and other eye conditions that can lead to vision loss.

Acid splash; chemical burns

A large percentage of eye injuries are caused by direct contact with chemicals. These injuries often result from an inappropriate choice of personal protective equipment that allows a chemical substance to enter from around or under protective eye equipment. Serious and irreversible damage can occur when chemical substances contact the eyes in the form of splash, mists, vapors, or fumes. When working with or around chemicals, it is important to know the location of emergency eyewash stations and how to access them with restricted vision.[1]

When fitted and worn correctly, goggles protect your eyes from hazardous substances. A face shield may be required in areas where workers are exposed to severe chemical hazards.[1]

Personal protective equipment devices for chemical hazards:

Abrasive blasting materials

Glare or stray light

The human eye is sensitive to intense light because it damages the retina and can even blind the individual. There are many different types of eye protection against light suited for different applications. The most common forms of eye protection against light are sunglasses. These primarily protect against UV light from the sun and help increase visibility in bright conditions. They often tend to be fashionable as well as practical.

Injurious optical radiation (Moderate)

Laser protection eyewear will filter out a particular (or small range of) wavelength(s), customized to the laser being viewed. Laser protection eye wear is particularly important because of the extremely high intensity of laser light.

Injurious optical radiation (Severe)

Welding glass protects against glare and flying sparks. It is a more extreme implementation of the same idea as sunglasses, suited to the more intense light generated during welding. Arc welding goggles must be much darker than blowtorch goggles. Shades 12, 13, and 14 welding glass must be used to stare directly at the sun or a solar eclipse. These higher index shades are suitable for arc welding and therefore are suitable for solar viewing.[3][4] Sunglasses will not provide sufficient protection.[5]

Other protection

Helmets and visors

Some helmets and visors also protect the eyes:


See also


  1. ^ a b c "Eye and Face Protection eTool: Selecting PPE for the Workplace - Chemicals". Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Retrieved 2021-03-30. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ "Prescription Safety Goggles Online - Safety Eyeglasses". Safety Eye Glasses. Retrieved 2023-03-21.
  3. ^ "Solar Eclipse Glasses: Where to Buy the Best, High-Quality Eyewear". 25 June 2019.
  4. ^ "VERIFY: Are welding glasses safe for viewing the solar eclipse?".
  5. ^ "sunglasses will not provide sufficient protection". 21 October 2022.
  6. ^ The Science Behind Glasses - How Does Vision Work?