Look Sharp: How to Choose Protective Eyewear
The appropriate glasses can prevent injuries and save your vision.
Choosing the right protective eyewear can stave off needless eye injuries
both at work and at play for adults and children, according to a leading
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), Americans will buy
eyeglasses 85 million times this year. Unfortunately, most people spend more
time shopping for a car, a computer, or even a pair of jeans than for their
But choosing and wearing the right protective eyewear -- especially among
people who wear contact lenses or who have had corrective eye surgery -- can be
invaluable in terms of protecting sight and preventing eye trauma, writes Paul
F. Vinger, MD. Vinger, an ophthalmologist in Concord, Mass., and a clinical
professor of ophthalmology at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston,
published an article on the subject in the May 2000 issue of the Review of
First and foremost, all lenses should be made of polycarbonate, he writes.
Polycarbonate is the strongest lens material available, so it's also the best
choice for all safety glasses and sports goggles.
It is also important that "all polycarbonate lenses absorb ultraviolet
light and are scratch-resistant; no further ultraviolet or anti-scratch
coatings are needed," Vinger writes. The sun's ultraviolet rays can be
harmful to the eyes.
To help you find the best pair of glasses for your needs, your
ophthalmologist may ask about your work, your hobbies, and what sports you
play, Vinger says. For example, if you work with power tools, goggles with
polycarbonate lenses are necessary. Make sure the label indicates that the
goggles meet the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z87.1 standard.
ANSI sets the safety standards for lenses.
Proper eye protection is also a major concern for all sports enthusiasts,
Vinger writes, especially those participating in certain high-risk sports,
including racquetball, tennis, squash, handball, ice hockey, badminton,
archery, baseball/softball, fencing, boxing, and karate.
"For sports that have the potential for eye contact with body parts, a
ball, racket, or stick, 3 millimeter thick polycarbonate lenses ... are
recommended," Vinger writes.
And once you get them, you have to wear them, Monica L. Monica, MD, PhD, an
ophthalmologist in private practice in New Orleans and a spokeswoman for the
AAO, tells WebMD.