According to Prevent Blindness America, more than 700,000 Americans injure their eyes while at work, 125,000 injure their eyes at home, and 40,000 American children and adults suffer eye injuries while playing sports. Most of these injuries could have been prevented by the use of protective safety goggles.

Safety eyewear must conform to a higher standard of impact resistance than regular eyeglasses. This higher standard applies to both the lenses and the frames of safety glasses and goggles. Safety glasses may have prescription lenses or non-prescription lenses. Regardless of their size or the durability of the frame and lenses, regular prescription eyeglasses do not qualify as safety glasses unless they meet specific criteria. Based on this criteria, safety glasses are then rated high mass impact, durability, and high velocity impact.

A few occupations requiring high impact protection in eyewear include:

• Carpenters
• Plumbers and pipe fitters
• Machinists
• Millwrights
• Laborers

Some activities may require side shields, goggles or full face protection. Employers and safety officers should consult The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to help determine which type of safety eyewear is most appropriate for different job positions. To learn more, visit the eye and face protection section of OSHA’s website.

If you don’t require prescription lenses, or you wear contact lenses, you can purchase non-prescription safety eyewear from most hardware, building supply and sporting goods stores. These safety glasses usually are made of lightweight polycarbonate for comfort and are available in wrap-style frames. For the greatest protection value, choose models that have the high impact rating.

The same recommendations for safety glasses for home use apply for indoor and outdoor sports activities. Also, consider purchasing an elastic band that attaches to the back of your temples, to keep your safety glasses securely on your head during active sports.

Your eyesight is precious. Regardless of whether you need non-prescription safety eyewear or prescription safety glasses, the investment you make to protect your eyes and vision will reduce your risk of a sight-threatening injury.

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