The Best Safety Glasses of 2021

Protect your eyes from flying debris while reducing glare, fog, and UV damage with the right safety glasses for the job.

By Timothy Dale | Updated Oct 5, 2021 10:23 AM

BobVila.com and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

The Best Safety Glasses Options

Photo: Timothy Dale

Many common DIY projects around the home, and in professional trades as well, require the use of safety glasses. Whether you’re lying upside down in a crawlspace to cut a water pipe with a grinder or simply using the chop saw out back to cut a few 2x4s, you’ll be protected and feel secure knowing that you have the best safety glasses for the job.

While all safety glasses may look fairly similar, some are designed to perform in different types of conditions and situations. What’s more, not all brands on the market meet the safety and quality standards of those that made our list.

There are a lot of different safety glasses available on the market, but not every product is effective at properly protecting your eyes, so we gathered several high-quality pairs and tested them in common situations where safety glasses would be necessary. Read on to learn more about what to look for in a pair of safety glasses and check out all the options that we rated as the best safety glasses in their class, including one that outperformed off of them.

  1. BEST OVERALL: 3M Safety Glasses, Virtua CCS
  2. RUNNER UP: DEWALT DPG82-21 Anti-Fog Dual Mold Safety Glasses
  3. BEST UPGRADE: Oakley Men’s OO9213 Ballistic M Frame
  4. PERFORMANCE PICK: Sellstrom Cutting Odyssey II Safety Glasses
  5. BEST ANTI FOG: NoCry Safety Glasses with Clear Anti Fog
  6. BEST POLARIZED: KleenGuard V30 Nemesis Safety Glasses
  7. BEST OVER GLASSES: NoCry Safety Glasses That Fit Over Your Prescription
  8. BEST GOGGLES: UVEX Stealth OTG Safety Glasses
The Best Safety Glasses Options

Photo: Timothy Dale

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Safety Glasses

Safety glasses should protect eyes from debris and dust, and depending on the style, liquids and heat. A variety of features provide protection, while others offer durability and comfort. Here are some of the most important options to consider when shopping for the best safety glasses.

American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Approval

ANSI is a private organization that manages the voluntary standards system within the United States. While ANSI is not a government organization, it does work closely with the government to set acceptable standards for safety equipment, machinery, tools, and more. ANSI-approved safety glasses have exceeded the basic safety standards set for their industry. Safety glasses that do not have an ANSI certification have not met the threshold set by the voluntary standards system in the United States. Look for the blue or black ANSI symbol on the packaging or the frame of safety glasses for verification.

Durability

Nothing’s more irksome than a product that breaks after the first or second use, but when it comes to safety glasses, low durability is more than frustrating—it’s a safety risk. Durability should be one of the highest priorities when selecting safety glasses. The frames of quality safety glasses should be made of hard nylon to withstand being bent and twisted through the duration of a project. Lenses, which are commonly rated for impact protection, are made of highly durable polycarbonate to ensure that metal, wood, or other flying debris cannot pierce the lens and damage your eyes.

Polarized Lenses

Whether safety glasses are used for DIY home renovations or professional construction and repair, seeing clearly is a necessity. Safety glasses with polarized lenses increase visual clarity. They contain a laminated filter between two pieces of hard plastic that only allows vertically oriented light to pass through. This filter blocks horizontally oriented light to reduce the amount of reflecting light that enters the eye. In outdoor or brightly illuminated conditions, polarized lenses lessen the impact of reflective lighting to provide a much sharper and clearer view of a task.

Peripheral Coverage

Peripheral coverage refers to the protection of the area around the sides of your eyes. While the majority of objects that may impact safety glasses will likely come from the front, objects can also strike the sides. Peripheral coverage often means a closed-in goggle style, which runs a risk of fogging during use, but there are also ample lightweight designs that feature peripheral coverage that fit loosely enough to avoid fogging. For maximum protection on certain projects, the full peripheral protection of goggle-style safety glasses may be the best way to go.

Ultra Violet (UV) Protection

For outdoor projects, safety glasses that protect eyes from the sun’s harmful UV radiation are a must. Ultraviolet light can damage the cornea, causing corneal sunburn, macular degeneration, and also influence cataract formation. Just like sunscreen protects skin, UV-rated safety glasses protect your eyes.

Scratch-Resistant Lenses

Safety glasses that are easily scratched by brushing against a rough tool bag, having a nail or screw dropped on them, or any other similarly unavoidable circumstance become unusable quickly. To invest in scratch-resistant safety glasses, check the package for a label indicating that the lenses have been treated in diamond-like carbon (DLC) and polycrystalline diamond for scratch resistance. While the initial cost of them may be a little higher, scratch-resistant glasses last through many projects over the long haul.

Additional Features

Many safety glasses include additional features that may be beneficial to specific individuals or situations. For instance, some allow you to attach hearing protection to the arms of the glasses that keep earplugs untangled and free of your vision. Other safety glasses are vent-free, a feature that’s optimal in extreme heat situations, such as wildfires, where ventilation would create a hazard.

Our Top Picks

These safety glasses rate as best based on design, cost, and overall satisfaction of users in both residential and professional settings. I tested each pair of safety glasses on this list, taking into account the important product features mentioned above with special attention to the durability, peripheral coverage, and scratch-resistance to find the best safety glasses for DIY projects around the home.

Best Overall

The Best Safety Glasses Option: 3M Virtua CCS Safety Glasses
Photo: amazon.com

For common projects around the house, like replacing a door or sanding prior to painting, the 3M Virtua CCS Safety Glasses have an ANSI-approved impact rating and are lightweight enough to offer a high level of comfort. The glasses also boast such inventive features as a foam gasket around the frame to help block dust, anti-fog lenses with UVA and UVB protection, and a wrap-around design for peripheral protection.

During testing, I wore the safety glasses for a range of different tasks including drilling guide holes to mount a television, cutting wooden boards, and hammering in a few nails. Even for precision tasks like removing computer screws, it was easy to see while my eyes remained protected from debris. The reading diopters in the lenses also helped me to see instructions without having to remove the glasses, meaning that my eyes stayed safe the entire time I was working on a project.

The only real drawback is that these safety glasses do not have polarized lenses, so they may not be the best choice for outdoor work.

Runner Up

The Best Safety Glasses Option: Dewalt Anti-Fog Dual Mold Safety Goggles
Photo: amazon.com

If users are looking for safety glasses that have full peripheral protection, but may be concerned about the lenses fogging up during a project, DEWALT’s are a good option. They’re not only specifically designed to prevent fogging, but they also feature built-in ventilation, a dual-injected rubber seal that fits comfortably around the eyes, and an adjustable cloth strap that holds them in place.

I tested the DEWALT safety glasses during several projects around the home to check for peripheral coverage, adjustability, and clear vision. During testing, I found that the tough, polycarbonate lenses kept out flying debris and that the dual-injected rubber formed a tight seal preventing dust, small pieces of metal, and other objects from getting into the goggles. The goggles were a bit uncomfortable after wearing them for more than 15 minutes. However, after making a few sizing adjustments with the cloth head strap, I managed to get a better fit for my
face.

The ventilation channels definitely reduced fog, but the goggles did accumulate moisture after several minutes, so I did need to remove them and wipe them out a couple of times while working.

Best Upgrade

The Best Safety Glasses Option: Oakley Men's OO9213 Ballistic M Frame
Photo: amazon.com

These safety glasses can be used indoors or outdoors for a variety of basic tasks, like yard cleanup, prefabricated furniture construction, or clearing a clogged sink. They have impressive flexibility, durability, and scratch-resistance, as well as UV-filtering lenses that protect the user from UVA, UVB, UVC, and harmful blue light.

During the initial phases of testing, I found that these safety glasses were definitely comfortable, with a lightweight frame and soft nose pads that helped prevent them from shifting or falling off. The Oakley safety glasses were a good choice for casual DIY tasks, like mowing the lawn, trimming around the fences or other lawn obstacles, and edging the lawn because the high level of UV protection meant that my eyes were rarely affected by the bright sunlight.

However, the gap around the lenses leaves too much space for these safety glasses to be effective when working with a chop saw, circular saw, or any other tool that produces a lot of dust and debris.

Best Anti Fog

The Best Safety Glasses Option: NoCry Safety Glasses with Clear Anti Fog
Photo: amazon.com

Moving between hot, humid outdoor conditions and cool, air-conditioned indoor locations is exactly what these anti-fog glasses are made for, ensuring that the user retains clear vision without having to remove or clean the safety glasses. These NoCry safety glasses also protect the eyes from about 90 to 100 percent of UV radiation, with a flexible fit that wraps around behind the eyes for a snug fit.

The NoCry safety glasses are a lightweight, relatively comfortable option that grips the head behind the ears, making sure that the glasses are hard to shift or remove without intentionally taking them off. During my tests the glasses didn’t fog at all, so I could see the entire time, and despite tossing them on the ground a few times the lenses didn’t show any scratches.

While these safety glasses are good for simple DIY tasks, the gap between the lenses and my face left my eyes vulnerable to sawdust, sparks, and other debris while I was using a saw, drill, and grinder. They are not suitable for use in situations with a significant amount of flying debris.

Performance Pick

The Best Safety Glasses Option: Sellstrom Cutting Odyssey II Safety Glasses
Photo: amazon.com

For cutting tile or soldering pipes using a blow torch, the high-temperature protection of these Sellstrom Cutting Odyssey II Safety Glasses is a must. Featuring heat-resistant lenses, a flame-resistant, adjustable band, and indirect venting to reduce fogging, these ANSI-approved safety glasses will keep the user’s eyes safe when the heat is on.

Through several of my tests, the goggle-style Sellstrom safety glasses performed incredibly well, withstanding scratches, drops, and even flame which was briefly applied to the neoprene headband while soldering. The thick, double-layer polycarbonate lens didn’t fog up while I was working, primarily due to the anti-fog treatment, but also in part due to the built-in ventilation. The flexible seal on the glasses tempted me to test whether liquids would get into the glasses, but even underwater my eyes were protected.

Though I did find that the bulky goggles limited my peripheral vision for precision tasks and became uncomfortable within about 15 to 20 minutes of use.

Best Polarized

The Best Safety Glasses Option: KleenGuard V30 Nemesis Safety Glasses
Photo: amazon.com

The KleenGuard safety glasses offer clear vision in bright lighting with polarized lenses that block out a portion of the reflective light, reducing glare. They have a durable, flexible frame as well as rubber grips at the end of each arm to prevent shifting during use. The lenses also have an anti-scratch and anti-fog coating to ensure clarity while working.

These safety glasses by KleenGuard looked and felt good enough to be used in place of my regular sunglasses with several major advantages, including the flexible frame and the wide, polycarbonate lenses that have decent peripheral coverage. While there was still some space between the glasses and my face, the gap was small enough that they can be used for most DIY applications. However, I did have issues with flying debris when I was using a circular saw and a power sander.

While these safety glasses are a great choice for a variety of tasks, tight-fitting goggles are better-suited for tasks that produce high levels of debris.

Best Over Glasses

The Best Safety Glasses Option: NoCry Safety Glasses That Fit Over Your Prescription
Photo: amazon.com

Eyeglass wearers shouldn’t have to choose between seeing clearly and protecting their eyes, and with this pair of ANSI- and OSHA-certified NoCry safety glasses, they don’t have to. The deep polycarbonate lens fully covers a pair of prescription glasses, protecting the user’s eyes from the top, bottom, and sides with a rectangular shape that looks a bit odd, but it works. These glasses even block up to 100 percent of UV radiation, making them a good choice for indoor or outdoor projects.

I tested these glasses with and without a set of prescription glasses to determine whether they actually worked. The fit of these NoCry safety glasses is a bit off without a pair of prescription glasses underneath, but when I used them as intended, it was difficult for flying debris to get into the narrow gap between my face and the glasses, ensuring that my eyes and my prescription glasses were protected. I found that the flexible frame and extendable arms made the glasses easy to adjust to my head and the polycarbonate lenses performed admirably when I tested them as I used a drill, saw, sander, and even a grinder.

That said, bulky prescription glasses frames will have a hard time fitting within the safety glasses lens.

Best Goggles

The Best Safety Glasses Option: UVEX Stealth OTG Safety Glasses
Photo: amazon.com

Avid DIYers and industry pros are bound to find themselves in situations where there is an extreme amount of dust, sawdust, sparks, and other debris in the air that can get under loose-fitting safety glasses and cause irritation or lasting injury to the eyes. However, the ANSI-certified UVEX safety goggles have a tight fit that blocks out common irritants and minimizes fogging with a built-in ventilation system.

After putting the UVEX safety goggles through a series of tests with a power sander, chop saw, circular saw, grinder, and even water submergence, I found the soft, elastomer seal to be incredibly effective at protecting my eyes from potential harm. The gap-free fit was enhanced by the anti-fog interior that helped to keep the goggles clear while I worked and the anti-scratch lens resisted direct impact from the ground, a workbench, and flying debris.

However, my face and eyes did become uncomfortable and mildly irritated after using the glasses for over 20 minutes when sweat began to accumulate inside and outside the lens.

How We Tested

With more than a decade of working as a project manager, I was responsible for sourcing safety products that helped ensure my workers’ safety without impacting their ability to quickly and effectively complete tasks. Safety glasses were a requirement for my workers and me. I found that putting these products through several hands-on tests was the best way to determine the right product for the task at hand.

I set up several tasks to test the ability of the safety glasses to protect against flying debris, bright sunlight, and liquids, while also testing my more subjective experiences including clarity of vision, the ability to read with the glasses on, comfort, and adjustability. Wearing each pair, I used a chop saw and a circular saw to cut pieces of wood, a power sander to smooth the edges of the wood, a drill to make guide holes in the wall studs for a television mount, and a grinder to cut through a piece of metal pipe.

For the products that were specifically noted as UV-resistant, I headed outdoors with my lawnmower and trimmer to see if the glasses helped or hindered the process. I also tested one particular pair of safety glasses for fire resistance because the manufacturer had noted that the lenses and even the headband were flame-resistant.

For products with full seals around the eyes, I also tested to determine whether they were watertight or if water (or other liquids) would leak in if the user’s face was fully submerged. Based on the results of these tests, the eight products above were rated and ranked accordingly.

Final Thoughts

Safety glasses provide secure eye protection, but the best safety glasses are also durable and scratch-resistant. These features are essential for regular, continued use of any pair of safety glasses. Regardless of the task, I found the durability and scratch-resistance of each of these products stood up to testing. What’s more, I found that certain features were beneficial for specific tasks. Polarized lenses were instrumental for outdoor work, for example, while no-gap and goggle-style frames offered advanced protection from debris while sawing. Whether needed for yard work or soldering, the safety glasses on this list provide solid eye protection.