Whether you’re giving a hands-on lecture at a university lab or testing samples in an on-site hospital facility, you’re mixing it up chemistry style. A far cry from the simple baking soda and vinegar volcanoes you made as a kid, you’re still very into experiments, things that explode, and virtually anything that could be labeled “reactive.”
Even though you trust your own abilities and never fear the occasional splatter of corrosive chemicals on your lab coat, you know you still need to protect your eyes from the dangers lurking inside your beakers.
The team at Stoggles is heavy into experimenting, too. From lens shapes and colors to researching the best ways to keep your eyes safe, we’ve come up with this handy guide. Read why you need safety glasses in the lab — it’s time to determine your risk and procure the best fitting safety eyewear available.
Do You Need Glasses or Goggles
Your employer (who hopefully plays by OSHA’s rules) has likely told you whether or not you need to wear glasses or goggles at work. However, there may be times you need one or the other.
Not sure when you need which? The American Optometric Association has the answer:
When Should You Wear Safety Goggles?
According to the AOA, you need to don your face-fitting goggles anytime you are working with certain types of chemicals. Although they don’t specify the need for goggles if you are working with bloodborne pathogens, your employer may require you to wear them. Or, they could ask (tell) you to wear safety glasses with side and top shields when handling these types of samples.
When Should You Wear Safety Glasses?
You’ll need safety glasses when working with anything that can produce dust, particles, or flying debris. You’ll also need safety glasses when working with cleaning products, fluids, hazardous radiation, UV light, and blue light.
Only some workers will need goggles, and you may not need them for every task you are assigned. However, owning a pair of protective safety eyewear is always a good idea, even when you’re just logging your notes on the computer (we’ll explain the dangers of blue light later).
Why Your Eyes Need Protecting
You’re no absent-minded professor, so why bother with safety eyewear when your regular eyeglasses do the trick?
We know you’re the data-driven type, so we’ll explain the “why” with some cold, hard facts:
- Each day, there are nearly 800,000 reported eye injuries.
- Of those injuries, about 2,000 are due to accidents experienced while on the job.
- These injuries often result in trips to the emergency room and time off from work, resulting in a whopping $300 million annual loss in productivity, workers’ compensation, and medical care.
- Finally, between 10-20% of all work-related eye injuries result in temporary or permanent vision loss, whether it is partial or total.
The risks are real, and the results of an eye injury are costly, and not just to your bank account. Losing your vision is a serious threat, and in most cases, it is never able to be restored.
Hit Me With the Good News
The great news is that according to experts, about 90% of all eye injuries are preventable, simply by wearing protective safety glasses. That means by simply showing up and suiting up, you’re already decreasing your risk of getting an eye injury to a very small margin.
As a science person, you must admit: Wearing safety eyewear just makes sense. And so, we’re here to give you the best features to shop for while searching for your new favorite lab partner, your safety eyewear.
Best Safety Glasses for the Science Lab
Your safety eyewear needs certain features that a construction worker’s glasses might not need or have. As such, we’ll cover the lab-specific features you need to keep your peepers safe while you complete your testing and make endless jokes about elements like helium (He He He).
Every type of safety eyewear needs shatter resistance, and that’s what separates it from your regular eyeglasses. Traditional eyewear isn’t made to withstand the impact of a shard of metal flying through the air at high speeds, but safety eyewear is. That is, as long as it has the ANSI Z87.1-2020 certification.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) develops testing that is used across industries to ensure a consistent level of safety. For shatter resistance, ANSI has two important tests for shatter resistance to ensure safety eyewear won’t break off into tiny, hard plastic bits in your eyeballs.
High velocity test. This test involves a ball bearing fired at the safety eyewear at a high speed. It’s totally cool and very dramatic.
Weight drop test. Like the name implies, this test involves dropping a weighted ball bearing from a specified height onto the lenses of the safety eyewear. Now, this is a game show we’d like to see.
Don’t worry; no humans or animals are harmed in these tests, but the foam head forms that wear the protective safety glasses do take a beating (thoughts and prayers).
Provided the safety glasses don’t shatter or break, they get the coveted ANSI seal, and you know that your eyes are protected from flying particulates.
UV Protectant Lenses
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the sun can damage your eyes, but if you are an aerospace engineer and you fail to wear UV protective lenses when exposed to UV rays, we’re gonna need to talk to your manager.
Ultraviolet rays penetrate your eye and can reach the retina; the retinal cells are responsible for your vision. Repeated exposure to UV rays without proper protection can cause your eyes to age faster than they normally would — kind of like how the sun can damage and age your skin if you don’t wear sunscreen.
UV protectant lenses prevent your eyes from this type of damage, whether it comes from the sun or from a fancy-shmancy machine in your lab. The best practice is to use safety glasses that have UV protection.
Your sunglasses? They need not apply. It goes without saying it’s pretty risky to handle chemicals with your shades on, even if they do give you a devil-may-care, edgy look.
Blue Light Blockers
We said we’d fill you in on blue light, and we weren’t kidding. If you aren’t familiar, blue light is a type of high-energy, short wavelength light that is similar to ultraviolet light. Blue light, however, is visible.
Blue light is emitted from the sun, but it is also emitted from other sources, which is why it’s so invasive. It’s even more invasive than the commercial jingle that’s been stuck in your head for the last 15 years.
LED televisions, computers, fluorescent light bulbs, tablets, and smartphones all emit blue light. Because our use of these gadgets and gizmos are so pervasive, blue light is an increasing threat to our eye health.
Prolonged exposure to blue light can cause:
- Eye strain
- Eye fatigue
- Itching, watery eyes
- Dry eyes
Like ultraviolet light, blue light can reach your retina. We aren’t yet sure how much long-term damage blue light can do to our eyes, but wearing safety glasses that have blue light filtering lenses can keep your eyes safe.
- Cool science fact: Blue light filtering lenses are made with a specialized powder that filters out blue light. This powder is injected into the lenses when they are created, so the lenses are literally fused with blue light blocking technology.
At Stoggles, all of our safety eyewear has blue light blocking lenses. Our lenses can keep your eyes safe whether you're in the lab or trying to get a bigger social media audience a la Bill Nye, the science guy (and king of 90s nostalgia).
Side and Top Shields
When you don’t need goggles, you need safety glasses that have top and side shields. Some safety glasses have curved lenses or wraparound lenses, which may give you a little protection on the sides of your eyes, but leave the top of your eyes unprotected. Not to mention, the warped lenses can create a warped reality, which we’ll talk about in a moment.
Side and top shields protect your eyes where your regular glasses leave your eyes vulnerable. Traditional eyewear leaves gaps at the brow and across the temples where splashes, splatters, and debris can enter your eye area.
Safety eyewear with side and top shields guards these areas and thus, protects your eyes. Kind of like a super shield of defense against your eye’s foes.
Glasses that fog aren’t just annoying; they’re dangerous. Removing your eyewear to wipe away fog or steam places your eyes at risk and takes you off task. Not paying attention while mixing flasks of volatile chemicals is a recipe for a literal disaster of epic proportions and most likely the end of your career (and possibly your vision).
Instead, make sure your safety glasses are treated with an anti-fogging chemical. These chemicals change the way the surface tension works on your lenses, making water droplets minuscule and unnoticeable.
Prescriptive Safety Eyewear
Corrective lens wearers should have the same access to safety eyewear as their non-prescription-wearing colleagues. Unfortunately, some prescription safety eyewear falls flat.
Wraparound lens styles, meant to protect the outer eyes’ edges, don’t play well with prescription vision corrections. Instead of seeing more clearly, your safety glasses may develop a funhouse mirror effect. We don’t need to tell you that seeing an object as larger or closer than it actually is can create a disastrous situation in a lab setting.
With Stoggles, you don’t have to worry about losing touch with reality (at least not through your vision). Our eyewear doesn’t curve but instead has a streamlined design with top and side shields that offer protection with crystal-clear vision and extreme clarity. We handle prescriptions in-house, saving you time and money.
We set the curve by getting rid of the curve entirely.
Comfort and Style
Your lab coat style (buttoned up or loose) says a lot about your personality, why not let your safety eyewear do the same? At Stoggles, you can choose from numerous lens shapes and a variety of colors to fit your unique sense of sciency style.
Because our lenses and frames are made from ultra-lightweight polycarbonate, you’ll experience supreme comfort and lenses that are naturally UV blocking. All Stoggles bear the ANSI Z87.1-2020 certification and have anti-fog lenses.
Just like your grade school chemistry set grew up, your safety eyewear grew up, too.
Stoggles: The Formula for Safety and Style
No matter your lab or the assignment, your eyes need protection. You can get the protection you need and that sweet style you crave with PPE that completes your lab-savvy look.
We don’t want to joke about elements again, but Stoggles keeps your eyes protected all the time, not just periodically.