For those who work with chemicals, high-energy light, or machine shop equipment, protecting eyes from particles, chemicals, and high energy light is important. Some common eye hazards include:
- laser light; and
- ultraviolet light.
Three main types of eye protection exist, each with advantages and disadvantages. They are safety glasses, goggles, and face shields.
- Safety Glasses: Safety glasses have shatter-resistant lenses made of materials like polycarbonate or propionate plastic with side shields. They are designed to stop large, physical objects such as wood chips from injuring your eyes. They are also used to provide laser light filtration and prevent reflections from the laser entering the eye and causing retinal burns. Safety glasses provide little to no protection from liquids or vapors. Safety glasses can be purchased with prescription lenses and even bifocals.
- Goggles: Goggles may be vented or non-vented.
- Non-vented goggles protect eyes from vapors, mists, fumes, or other hazards eyes must be completely covered, but the material hazard does not require covering all exposed skin.
- Vented goggles protect from moderated quantities of liquids with no vapor or mist danger. Several types exist. For example, the common, hardware-store goggle has holes drilled into the plastic. This is unsuitable for laboratory work because liquids can get through the holes. Vented laboratory goggles have a series of buttons embedded into the plastic. These buttons house a baffle plate that allows air to pass but present a physical barrier to liquids.
- Face Shield: Face shields are not stand-alone eye protection. They protect the entire face with goggles on under the shield to catch any liquids that might have made it past the shield.