Asking whether you should wear safety glasses while painting is a little like asking whether you should wear a parachute when you skydive, although we’d agree it isn’t quite as obvious.
To help you understand the importance of safety eyewear while you’re stroking the canvas (or the wall), the Stoggles team will explain how your eye works, what can make it stop working, and how painting presents a unique safety hazard for your vision.
Get ready, Bob Ross fanatics. We’re about to explain the dangers of every happy little accident you can have while painting.
How Your Eyes Work
The eyes are unique in that they aren’t as protected as your other organs. Consider your brain, housed in your thick, bony skull, or your heart and lungs surrounded by your rib cage. Because the function of the eye is to collect light from the outside, no protective structure can block them.
That means there isn’t much that lies between your eyes and the outside world except for some thin skin lids and a few wispy eyelashes. Far from a design flaw, this allows your eyes to collect the perfect amount of information and send it back to the retina, where it is then transformed into electrical signals. Those signals are sent to the brain via the optic nerve, and the brain tells us what we see.
Because the eyes have little protection, it’s easy for them to become damaged. It might not seem like an eye injury is that big of an issue until you realize that it could cost you your vision. Retinal cells aren’t capable of regeneration. In layman’s terms, that means when they’re gone, so is your ability to see.
While it’s true that Monet produced some of his finest pieces once his vision deteriorated, most of us aren’t using paint to create masterpieces. We just need to be able to slap some on without getting paint on the ceiling.
Bottom line: You need your eyesight, and once it’s gone, it isn’t coming back.
The Perils of Painting
Let’s get down to business. When it’s time to change your home’s interior wall color from “builder beige” to the perfect earthen taupe (which is also, ironically, beige), you should be aware of the dangers to your eyes.
From spills to splatters and, of course, spackling, here are five ways your eyes could be getting the short end of the painting stick.
The ingredients in paint (and we mean everything from oils and acrylics to flat or gloss wall paint) are made to saturate material and live there permanently. This means there’s a long list of strong chemicals inside, along with colorants and dyes.
In case you were wondering, none of these are healthy for your eyes. In fact, some of them may cause blindness if they remain in your eye for even a few short minutes. This is why your paint usually comes with a giant, black-box warning about keeping it out of your eye area and always wearing safety glasses.
If you do get paint in your eyes, flush it immediately with a saline solution and seek emergency care.
The ingredients in paint can cause an off-gassing of formaldehyde, which is great for embalming bodies and laboratory frogs and also great for creating serious eye irritation. Exposure to fumes in a small space can make it worse (and make you feel lightheaded), which is why it’s crucial to keep the space ventilated.
Using safety eyewear can reduce the amount of fumes that enter your eye area and dramatically impact how long you can keep painting without developing itchy, watery eyes.
Fumes can cause eye infections that can take several days or even weeks to heal, which can mean missed time from work or even missed pay.
Commercial painters often use high-powered sprayers to deliver paint to large areas in one fell swoop. Unfortunately, using these tools incorrectly or simply having an accident can result in an eye injury that could cost them their vision.
If a sprayer is mistakenly pointed toward the eye, the high-velocity paint could literally rupture the eye membrane and cause vision loss or even loss of the entire eye structure. Even if you retain your vision, paint lodged deep within the eye from a sprayer can cause cloudy vision that never goes away.
The same is true for spray paint, although the force is obviously less powerful. That means when you’re out tagging public property, it’s important to remember #safetyfirst.
4. Equipment Malfunctions
Rollers, ladders, scrapers, and sanders seem harmless enough, but they’re bad guys to your eyes. If you’re painting around other people (like on a job or with a team), the risk is multiplied.
Taking a blunt force trauma to the eye when your teammate trips and jams a paint-soaked roller into your face could send you to the emergency room, cost you time away from work, impact your pay, and cause vision loss.
5. UV Light
Commercial painters often use UV lamps to dry and set paint quickly. These lamps can expose your eyes to UV rays that can penetrate the eye and reach the retina. UV light ages your eye much like it ages your skin, causing damage that would normally take years to accumulate.
UV light can cause early-onset macular degeneration, which can eventually lead to total blindness. Instead of relying on your sunglasses (especially indoors), opt for safety eyewear that offers a clear, UV-blocking coating.
The result? You don’t waste time watching paint dry, and your eyes are safe for another day.
Protection for Every Picasso
You’re an artist, whether you’re spraying paint on stucco or refinishing furniture. Make sure your vision lasts to see every masterpiece you create by protecting your eyes with safety eyewear that has all the bells and whistles.
Here’s your go-to list of required specs:
No matter what, safety eyewear should be impact resistant. Regular eyeglasses and sunglasses shatter on impact, which could leave you with shards of glass in your eyes on top of blunt-force trauma.
The industry standard for safety eyewear is the ANSI Z87.1-2020 certification. This certification means your eyewear is tested to resist impact from weighted objects at various speeds. That clumsy coworker with the paint roller? They’re no match for your safety eyewear.
Side and Top Shields
Standard glasses leave your eyes defenseless at the top near the eyebrows and across each temple. Little droplets can find their way and creep in from the sides and tops. These little zones are the perfect spaces for splatters and spills to infiltrate your eye area and cause damage.
Side and top shields protect your eyes by shielding these areas without adding weight or discomfort. Stoggles, for instance, are crafted from super lightweight and ultra-durable polycarbonate material.
As an aside, wraparound lenses are a solid no in our book, especially if you have prescription lenses. The curvature of the lens can warp your vision, making you second guess your ventilation system and even leading to mistakes in your work.
It’s essential to have safety eyewear with UV protection, even if you don’t work outside. UV lamps can expose your eyes to ultraviolet rays, which can be damaging. The same amazing polycarbonate material that makes Stoggles protective and lightweight also makes them naturally UV-blocking, so you can dry your projects without harming your eyes.
Fogging glasses suck and are so 2020. Taking your glasses off to wipe them down takes you off task and causes a safety risk while your eyes are unprotected. Instead of hauling around anti-fog wipes (which don’t last very long), opt for top-quality anti-fog-coated lenses.
Stoggles are dipped in an anti-fogging compound at the time of manufacture to create a long-lasting anti-fog finish you can rely on to keep your eyewear clear.
Blue Light Blockers
You never know where your job may take you, and that could mean painting under LED lights or in the sun. Blue light is emitted from the sun, as well as sources like smartphones, tablets, computers, LED televisions, and lightbulbs.
Because our exposure to blue light is pervasive, wearing blue light-blocking lenses is essential to protecting your eyes both indoors and outdoors. We make it easy by ensuring every pair of Stoggles lenses are infused with blue light-blocking technology.
Level Up Your Protection While You Paint
Bob was right: there really aren’t mistakes in painting, but there are eye accidents. Thankfully, you can keep your eyes safe whether you’re working on a happy little tree or giving your house a fresh coat of exterior acrylic.
Stoggles are the solution for keeping comfortable while you work, protecting your eyes, and looking damn good while you do it.
When your Eyes are Exposed to Chemicals in the Home | Vista Eye VA
How to Protect Your Eyes from UV Damage | Hopkins Medicine.org
Recognizing and Treating Eye Injuries | American Academy of Ophthalmology