Are These Affordable 3M Safety Glasses Durable Enough for Tough Jobs?
Lightweight, comfortable, and effective, these impressive safety glasses are great for a variety of tasks around the home.
A wide range of projects around the home requires appropriate safety glasses to help ensure I’m protecting my eyes from various hazards that would otherwise irritate or cause lasting damage. I have a selection of personal protective equipment (PPE), but finding suitable safety glasses has always been a problem because previous pairs either became scratched too easily or fogged up while in use, obscuring my vision.
I figured that I was in for more of the same with the 3M Virtua CCS safety glasses (available on Amazon), but I was pleasantly surprised by a multitude of innovative features and a comfortable fit that properly protected my eyes while allowing me to see clearly. I’ve since used these safety glasses while drilling, cutting, sanding, grinding, hammering, and even while repairing my computer, though the last instance was less for protection and more to take advantage of the built-in diopters to better see the tiny screws with which I was working.
Verdict: Due to the comfortable fit, anti-scratch lenses, and full peripheral protection, the 3M Virtua CCS safety glasses earn the top spot among competitors.
- ANSI and CSA certified
- Anti-fog, anti-scratch polycarbonate lenses
- Full peripheral protection with a foam seal
- Built-in reading diopters can cloud vision
- Not suitable for hot work
- Clear lenses don’t reduce glare
Light, But Surprisingly Durable
The 3M Virtua CCS safety glasses have thin, flexible arms that stretch just behind the ears, sitting comfortably like a pair of prescription glasses. But unlike with my prescription glasses, I was able to bend, twist, and drop these ANSI- and CSA-certified safety glasses on the floor without damaging the frame or the lenses. This durability is partly due to the flexible, lightweight design that tends to bounce off the floor or the workbench if dropped, but it’s also a function of the anti-scratch polycarbonate lenses.
I had a hard time believing that these light safety glasses could actually resist this damage, attributing the flawless condition to a short falling distance, so I set them on my workbench and struck the lenses directly several times without making a mark. However, I also found that the glasses don’t hold up well around a flame, making them a potential hazard when using a blow torch.
Versatility Reigns Supreme
While the durability of the 3M safety glasses definitely impressed me, the range of features really made these glasses stand out from various inferior options. One of the first features I noticed was the removable foam gasket that sits securely on the interior of the glasses. When the peripheral protection gasket is attached, the safety glasses fit snugly against my face, ensuring that dust, dirt, and wood chips couldn’t fly up under the anti-fog lenses to make contact with my eyes. This feature was especially important for drilling guide holes into wall studs, making precise cuts during a woodworking project, using a power sander to smooth the wood, and cutting through a metal pipe with my grinder.
Other impressive features include corded earplug clips in the arms of the safety glasses and built-in reading diopters located in the lenses, making it easier for me to read small instructions without removing the glasses. Unfortunately, the diopters did get in the way at times, blurring my vision until I slightly adjusted the position of my head or where I was looking.
While these safety glasses protect against UV radiation, I still had issues using them outdoors because of the bright sunlight and glare caused by reflective light. Ideally, this product would be offered with polarized lenses, though this may impact the ability of the diopters.
A Bargain for Any DIYer
Safety glasses aren’t known to be one of the more expensive pieces of PPE, but depending on the brand, there is a good chance that I could spend over $50 on a high-quality pair just to make sure I’m properly protecting my eyes while working with a saw, a hammer, a drill, or any other tool. However, the 3M Virtua CCS safety glasses come at a more than reasonable price, especially given the durability, comfort, and range of features built into these glasses.
I was able to pick up a pair of these 3M safety glasses on Amazon for just $15.43. At the time, I figured the price was representative of the product—inexpensive enough that I could easily replace the first pair when they wore out. Since the time of purchase, I have used these glasses while completing maintenance and DIY projects around the home and even subjected the lenses to direct impact tests without a scratch. Given these results, the $15 price tag seems almost too low for these durable glasses.
How We Reviewed 3M Safety Glasses
I spent about 10 years working as a project manager, which included a significant amount of safety training, regular inspections, and regulations that my workers and I needed to meet before even stepping onto a job site. One of my responsibilities was sourcing safety gear, like confined space equipment, traffic control signage, protective gloves, earplugs, and safety glasses to help ensure my workers and I could complete tasks safely and effectively.
To test this pair of safety glasses, I used them to complete several tasks, including cutting wood with a chop saw and a circular saw, operating a power sander, drilling guide holes through 2x4s, cutting through a pipe with a grinder, and using a blowtorch to solder a plumbing joint. Throughout these tasks, I noted the anti-scratch and anti-fog qualities of the lenses, and I even attempted to simulate a flying tool or object by hitting the lenses repeatedly while the glasses sat on the workbench.
The foam gasket around my eyes ensured that sawdust, wood chips, sparks, and other flying debris couldn’t reach my eyes from the top, sides, or bottom of the glasses. I also tested the more subjective qualities of the safety glasses, like comfort, fit, clarity of vision, and resistance to bright sunlight. With a few minor exceptions, including non-polarized lenses, potential vision blurring due to the diopters, and a vulnerability to flame, these 3M Virtua CCS safety glasses performed admirably in all the tests.
Should You Choose 3M Safety Glasses?
Safety glasses are a necessity for any DIYer. They are even a good idea for people who don’t do a lot of home renovation or maintenance because of the many different circumstances in which wearing a pair of safety glasses could prevent lasting damage or vision impairment. For example, I have found that whether I am cleaning the grill, mounting a picture on the wall, or simply mowing the lawn, it’s a good idea to have a set of safety glasses to protect my eyes, given that they are one of the most vulnerable parts of the human body.
These 3M safety glasses are suitable for a variety of tasks. Due to their small size and lightweight frame, I found that I could wear these glasses comfortably for hours without a problem. For basic tasks around the home, like fixing a drawer or tightening cupboard hinges, I could wear the glasses without the foam gasket, which made them more breathable for my eyes. I could then pop the gasket back on to take on more involved tasks, like cutting pieces of wood and sanding down the surfaces, all while knowing that the full peripheral protection would keep my eyes safe from dust and debris.
However, I would recommend that anyone who wants safety glasses for primarily outdoor work consider a different pair. While the anti-fog lenses could protect against 99 percent of UV radiation, they did little to reduce the reflective light of the sun. I also noticed that the foam gasket begins to melt when close to a flame, indicating that continued use could have caused the gasket to melt fully. As a result, this product is not the best choice for hot work.
Comfort, Versatility, and Effective Protection
The 3M Virtua CCS safety glasses are lightweight, with narrow arms and built-in earplug holders that take user convenience seriously. This versatile product includes a range of different features designed to make jobs easier without having to stop multiple times to adjust them or change to another pair of safety glasses altogether, depending on the task.
The safety glasses sit loose or tight against the face with the removable foam seal, shielding my eyes from peripheral damage like flying dust, wood chips, and other debris. They also have reading diopters in the lenses, allowing me to easily switch between making a precise cut in a piece of wood to reading small instructions or recorded measurements. Outside of these extra features, the lenses are also scratch-resistant and UV resistant, protecting my eyes from up to 99 percent of UV radiation.