Protection from ultraviolet rays is an important function of safety eyewear. Safety eyeglasses and sunglasses should block more than 99% of UVA and UVB radiation. UV-rated safety glasses may have the lens marking “U” along with a number indicating the ultraviolet light scale rating. Make sure eyes are protected from UV light, particularly while wearing safety eyewear outdoors in daylight.

Man wearing safety glasses

Photo-Protective Lenses

Prescription safety glasses with UV-blocking lenses are helpful for working or spending time outside. Non-prescription safety eyewear can also protects eyes. A lens coating added to clear or tinted lenses is equally effective.

Why UV Protection Is Important

Overexposure to UV radiation can cause several types of eye disease. At high altitudes, individuals may experience photokeratitis, which is basically an eye sunburn. This condition may cause snow blindness and temporary vision loss. For this reason, winter sports goggles tend to block UV light.

Other eye conditions linked with UV exposure include cataracts, macular degeneration and melanoma. Protective eyewear should be worn on a daily basis or whenever eyes are exposed to sunlight or other intense light sources.

Maintaining UV Protection

The polycarbonate lenses in most safety eyewear are prone to developing scratches. Scratched lenses may not provide the rated UV protection. Dark lenses must block damaging rays, as dilated pupils admit more UV light.

Other styles of safety lenses may screen out anywhere from 75% to 90% of visible light and a significant level of infrared radiation. Several classes of tinted welding glasses are also available for on-the-job protection.

When To Wear Protective Glasses

It may be possible to wear safety-rated glasses as sunglasses, particularly if you require eyewear for outdoor sports. These glasses or goggles may provide protection from other hazards such as impact or irritants while shielding eyes from UV damage.

If you do not plan to wear safety eyewear outdoors, you should make sure that everyday prescription glasses and prescription or non-prescription sunglasses are rated to provide a sufficient amount of optical radiation protection.

Wearing Safety Glasses at Work


How does safety eyewear work?

Safety eyeglasses and goggles provide protection from hazards such as impact, irritants and ultraviolet light. Glasses should fit the wearer’s face and be rated for occupational or other injury risks. The American National Standards Institute Z87.1 standard and ASTM International F803 standard for sports are two leading safety ratings.

What are the best UV glasses?

The best glasses for optical radiation protection block 100% of ultraviolet light. Clear and tinted lenses can block UVA and UVB rays. Some glasses feature polarized or mirrored lenses to reduce glare and improve optical clarity by limiting horizontal reflection. Specialized welding glasses block a broader spectrum of optical radiation.

Can I wear safety glasses outside?

Safety eyewear that blocks UV light can be worn both outside and inside. If you require sun protection for work or sports, you can customize safety frames with tinted lenses. Depending on the brand and style of glasses, you may have the option to choose standard, mirrored or polarized lenses.

How can you tell if lenses block UV?

Glasses lenses that provide UV protection are stamped with the letter “U” and a number indicating the ultraviolet light scale rating. Lenses rated for visible light are marked with “L” and a number. The letter “R” indicates an infrared filter. Welding glasses are marked “W” with a lens shade number.

What are the best safety glasses?

The best protective glasses are comfortable and protect your eyes from hazards such as impact, irritants and optical radiation. You may prefer to wear different eyewear styles for work or sports that have an American National Standards Institute or ASTM International sports rating. Shop affordable styles from trusted eyewear brands.

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