Safety Glasses Rating Chart & How To Understand It

Posted by Bridget Reed on

When you’re perusing the interwebs looking for a pair of perfectly fitting safety glasses, you’ll frequently find yourself pouring over charts that explain just what kind of safety features these glasses offer. Attempting to understand all the safety industry-specific TLA’s (three-letter acronyms) can be a headache, and you have enough on your plate as it is.

That’s why the team at Stoggles put together this handy guide to help you navigate these tricky waters.

We’ll cover what the markings on eye protection mean and how to understand what type of eyewear PPE you need for your job. By the end, you’ll be a safety eyewear pro and be able to drop some serious knowledge on your coworkers.

What Is the ANSI?

One of the first things you’ll need to identify is whether or not your safety eyewear meets the ANSI standard for protection. The American National Standards Institute develops testing methods and benchmarks to regulate safety across different industries. 

In terms of eye and face protection, the gold standard is the ANSI Z87.1 certification. Recently updated in 2020, this standard ensures your eyewear meets certain requirements to protect your eyes.

All worthy glasses should protect against:

  • Dust
  • Debris
  • Heat
  • Impact
  • Radiation
  • Splashes and splatters

To ensure safety goggles and safety glasses are as protective against eye injuries as possible, ANSI developed voluntary testing protocols so that manufacturers can be confident that their safety eyewear is effective. 

ANSI Testing 

There are many different types of testing for protective eyewear, but the most common are tests to ensure safety standards are met for impact resistance, fine dust, and chemical splashes and splatters. 

Impact Protection

The majority of eye-related injuries that happen on the job result from strikes or scrapes from debris, according to the CDC. Thankfully, 90% of these (and all) eye injuries are preventable simply by wearing shatter-resistant eyewear. 

ANSI tests eyewear for impact protection. OSHA usually requires the ANSI impact resistance standards to be met to keep workers safe in certain jobs. There are two important high-impact tests that safety eyewear can undergo to earn the ANSI Z87.1 standard of approval.

  1. High mass test. Safety glasses are strapped to a headform and a sharp conical-shaped object that's dropped from about four to six feet.
  1. High-velocity impact test. Safety eyewear that is attached to a headform must resist a steel ball bearing that is fired at high speed directly at the lens.

Pass both of these tests without shattering, breaking, or fragmenting, and you’ve got yourself a pair of ANSI Z87.1 certified safety glasses or goggles. Maybe they don’t have superpowers, but you’ll probably feel like you’re super protected while wearing them. 

Dust, Dust, Baby

It’s all fun and games until you get dust in your eyes. Dust isn’t just irritating; it can be incredibly damaging. Get enough dust in your eyes, and you could risk a corneal abrasion or an eye infection. If the dust comes from a hazardous chemical or material, you could even place your vision at risk. 

ANSI testing for dust protection is marked with the letter “D” on the lens or frame of the glasses or goggles. The number after the letter D tells you how much or which kind of dust the eyewear protects against. 

  • D4. This eyewear is ANSI certified against dust particles. Think woodworking, mowing your lawn, or doing yard work. 
  • D5. Eyewear that is marked with a D5 indicates protection against fine dust particles. These types of particles are common with work such as grinding, sanding, and buffing. 

If you work or spend time in dusty environments, you need eyewear to protect you against this specific type of eye hazard. 

Splashes, Spills, and Droplets (Oh My)

When we think of eye hazards that involve liquids, our minds usually go to extremes. Molten metal, corrosive chemicals, or bodily fluid. In reality, glasses that protect against splashes and splatters are made for some of these types of tasks, but also for tasks like cleaning with household products (we’re looking at you, bleach). 

ANSI testing for both dust and liquids involves placing a special piece of chemically reactive paper behind the safety eyewear on a headform. The tester then sprays water on the lenses. If the paper changes color where the wearer’s eyes would be, it’s back to the think tank for a few more revisions. 

Glasses with a marking of “D3” are certified against splashes and droplets. 

Summary of Essential Safety Markings

In addition to the D’s and ANSI, there are other markings you’ll find on eye and face protection devices that you might’ve just disregarded as a manufacturing marking. Here’s an easy guide to help you understand what they mean (with the ones we’ve already covered thrown in for good measure). 


ANSI Certified for Regular Impact


ANSI Certified for High Impact




Splashes and dust particles


Fine dust particles


Protects against infrared light

U (followed by a number)

Offers UV protection. The number indicates how much.

L (followed by a number)

These glasses have a visible light filter; the level is indicated by the number. You might see this on blue light-blocking glasses.


This mark indicates that the personal eye protection is safe to use while welding. Commonly located on face shields.


Reserved for prescription lenses on safety glasses


Anti-fog coating


Scratch resistant

There are sometimes other markings on glasses, but they are often manufacturer marks or design/model numbers. 

What Are the Most Important Safety Eyewear Features?

Whether you’re in need of eyewear for home or work use, there are a few key features you’ll need.

Impact Resistance

It should pretty much go without saying that your safety glasses should have the ANSI Z87.1-2020 certification for impact resistance. Any eyewear that doesn’t can place your eyes at risk. 

Wearing your regular eyeglasses while you perform tasks like mowing or woodworking leaves your eyes vulnerable. Glass lenses aren’t made to withstand the impact of sawing, machining, mowing, or weeding accidents. Unless you want to spend a trip to the ER after you finish the yard, avoid wearing your regular eyeglasses.

Side and Top Shields

Regular eyeglasses fall short of protection in two critical places. The space above your eye near your eyebrow, and the area on the sides of each eye, near your temples. These little spas offer splashes, splatters, and debris to enter your eye area and cause an injury. 

Top and side shields offer coverage in these areas so that your eyes stay safe, even from the sneakiest peripheral vision adversaries. 

Additionally, side and top shields are better for people needing prescription safety eyewear. Wraparound safety glasses can warp a prescriptive lens, making it feel like you work in a carnival funhouse instead of your real workplace. We all want our jobs to be a little more fun, but not in that way. 

UV Protection

No matter your location, you need UV protection. UV light is incredibly damaging to your vision. Long-term exposure to the sun’s damaging rays can age your eyes faster than they would age on their own (kind of like how the sun affects your skin). 

Sun damage can cause minor irritation and corneal burns that can feel like you constantly have sand stuck in your eye. In addition, ultraviolet light penetrates your eyes and reaches the retina, where retinal cells are located. This can lead to early-onset macular degeneration

If you’re concerned about having glasses with a tint, you should know that you don’t have to wear shades to get UV protection. Stoggles, for instance, are made from polycarbonate material, which offers crystal clear lenses and natural UV-blocking protection. 


Fogging glasses are no good, especially if you’re wearing them to avoid specific hazards. When your glasses collect fog, they have to be removed to be cleaned.

Removing your glasses has two main consequences:

  1. Takes you off task. Whatever activity you were involved in, it’s now on pause, and if it requires a lot of concentration, that’s out the window. Imagine the possibilities if you’re taken off task while chemical handling or operating a wood chipping machine. 
  1. Places your eyes at risk. It’s not just the risk of an accident from being off-task. When you remove any part of your personal protective equipment, you place yourself at risk of coming in contact with the hazard from which that equipment was offering protection. 

Foggy glasses are more than just annoying; they’re unsafe. That’s why all Stoggles come preloaded with anti-fog lenses. Anti-fog lenses change how water vapor collects on the surface of your glasses, so your glasses never look foggy and never need removing for a wipe down. 

Blue Light Blocking

Like ultraviolet light, blue light is also emitted from the sun. In fact, it’s the primary source. Also, like UV light, it can penetrate your eye and reach the retina. However, we don’t know as much about blue light as we do about UV light. That means the long-term effects of blue light could be detrimental to your eye health.

Blue light comes from many other sources, like smartphones and computers. Because we have more exposure to it, it’s essential to keep our eyes safe with blue light filtering lenses. All Stoggles come preloaded with this vital technology. Kind of like getting an unexpected upgrade. 

Stoggles: The Safety You Need, the Style You Want

At Stoggles, we don’t think you should have to choose between style and safety. That’s why you’ll find all the safety features you need in a variety of aesthetically pleasing frames and colors. 

Safety markings can be confusing, but now you’re the consummate expert in the field. Impress your friends (or at least annoy) them with your level of safety knowledge. 


ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2020: Current Standard for Safety Glasses | ANSI

Eye Safety | NIOSH | CDC

The Sun, UV Light and Your Eyes | American Academy of Ophthalmology

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