What Is Medical Eye Protection?

Posted by Paul Kim on

Your days of dissecting fetal pigs may be over, but your job in the medical profession means it’s too soon to hang up your protective glasses. Even if your employer doesn’t require you to use it, medical eye protection is the smart choice for the savvy healthcare worker. 

What Makes Eye Protection Protective?

Think you can get a hall pass by wearing your regular corrective lenses when you work? Wrong. Your regular eyeglasses don’t even come close to providing you with the same level of protection as certified medical eye protection style glasses. Here’s what’s different.

Impact Resistance

Drop your standard pair of eyeglasses or sunglasses on the floor, and it’s a safe bet you’ll be shopping for a new pair later that day. Regular glasses aren’t typically tested for impact resistance unless you specifically buy impact-resistant lenses. 

Medical eye protection is often impact-resistant and shatterproof. Most lenses and frames are made from polycarbonate material and tested to withstand high-velocity impact, similar to the type of impact you might receive from a particularly combative patient or a piece of flying debris in an orthopaedic operating room. 

Heat Resistance

While not all medical eye protection is heat resistant, some pairs of safety glasses are. You’ll know by the markings on the glasses themselves. The American National Standards Institute works closely with OSHA to determine standards for safety glasses, including marking for the glasses so that the level of protection they provide is easily identifiable. You’ll know these glasses have the protection you need by the Z87.1 marking on the product.  

Radiation and Chemical Exposure Protection

We’re exposed to different levels of ionizing and non-ionizing radiation daily. Microwaves, tanning beds, and radio waves all expose us to non-ionizing radiation, while x-rays, gamma rays, and some UV rays expose us to ionizing radiation.

Medical eye protection can protect your eyes from certain levels of non-ionizing radiation. You’ll know how much by the marking on the frame. An “R” on the frame of your safety glasses indicates protection against radiation, and the corresponding number tells you just how much protection you’ll get. 

Splash and Splatter Protection

Sure, your regular glasses may offer your eyes some protection against splashes and splatters, but medical eye protection covers areas that your standard eyeglasses leave exposed. 

Medical safety glasses provide a side shield that connects each lens to the frame, covering your temples and preventing a rogue splatter from entering your eye through the side. They’ll also have a top shield that protects the area between your brow bone and the top frame of your glasses. 

UV Protection

UV rays can damage your vision, and when working in the medical field, you could be exposed to them from certain types of medical equipment. Medical eye protection has specialized lenses that protect your eyes from UV rays. 

“Don’t my sunglasses do that?” They do, but it will be pretty hard to see what you’re doing wearing dark sunshades. You might not realize it, but the level of UV protection your glasses offer doesn’t correlate to the darkness of your lenses. In fact, you can have 100% UV protection on clear lenses. 

Fog Resistance

If your glasses fog while you’re working, you’ll have to remove them to wipe them, potentially exposing your eyes to chemicals and pathogens. Unfortunately, if your glasses are fogging, you can’t see what you’re doing. 

Anti-fog coating on safety glasses keeps your glasses from fogging no matter what you’re doing, so you can focus on your work. 

Why Do I Need To Wear Medical Eye Protection

When you’ve worked in the medical profession for many years, you can become accustomed to the level of risk you’re exposed to on a daily basis. This may make you a hard sell on wearing medical eye protection.

Unfortunately, you’re putting your eyesight at risk. The CDC says 2,000 workers each day experience eye-related injuries that could have been prevented if the injured person was simply wearing protective safety glasses. 

Of these injuries, about a third require a trip to the emergency room, and over 100 keep you out of work for more than a day. Loss of pay, anyone? Wearing safety glasses is simply the smart choice.

Here are a few instances when your eyes are particularly in danger:

Acute Care Settings

Hospitals, emergency rooms, and urgent care centers are all places where healthcare personnel can come in contact with eye hazards. In fact, acute care settings are the number one location of eye injury for nurses. 

Caring for patients in their rooms, taking bodily fluid samples, changing bedpans, or switching out dressing for wound care are all scenarios that could result in debris or splashes of bodily fluid in your face. Wearing safety glasses can help prevent you from contracting infectious diseases from your patients. 

Operating Rooms

Even when the patient is sedated, there’s still a danger for your eyes. Debris and spills happen when the patient is on the operating table, and your eyes could be exposed if they aren’t protected.

You’ll most likely be required to wear medical eye protection when you’re working in the OR, and if your employer doesn’t supply them for you, make sure the ones you choose are ANSI Z87.1 certified and impact resistant. 

In the Lab

You know to protect your eyes with safety goggles when you’re in the lab, but what about when you’re simply testing urine samples at a doctor’s office or drawing a patient’s blood? Even the most seasoned professionals can have accidents, and if your eyes are protected, an accident will only mean shaking it off and cleaning up the spill.

Unprotected eyes could land you in the hospital and seriously damage your vision… like, forever. It’s just not worth the risk. 

But They’re So Lame…

We get it. Safety glasses aren’t exactly the height of fashion, and chances are you feel like a giant goof when you are wearing them. The good news is, you don’t have to settle for the same types of glasses you wore in your middle school chemistry class. 

Stoggles are the protective eyewear that protects like safety glasses, feels as comfortable as your favorite frames, and looks like a seriously sleek pair of specs. Wearing them after your shift is optional, but we’re pretty sure you’ll be hooked. 

All Stoggles are ANSI Z87.1 certified and treated with anti-fog coating and a coating with UVA + UVB protection. We also added blue-light blocking filters so you can switch from patient care to computer work without risking your eye health. 

You’ll love your Stoggles so much; you’ll probably wish you had a pair for weekends. Guess what? SunStoggles are now available to keep you protected in style no matter what you’re doing outdoors on the weekend. SunStoggles have all the same safety ratings and features as our regular Stoggles, but with shaded lenses so that you don’t have to squint while you’re doing yard work. 

Medical Eye Protection for All

Every healthcare worker should have access to quality eye protection, and Stoggles makes it possible to get the protection you need with the style you deserve. The risk to your eyes isn’t worth the possibility of losing your vision, and with Stoggles protecting your eyes is comfortable, easy, and — dare we say — trendsetting. 



Eye Safety | NIOSH 

Protecting your eyes at work | AOA 

Splash safety—Protecting your eyes, Part I | My American Nurse

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