Buyer’s Guide: Safety Glasses
The best safety glasses protect your eyes from flying debris while reducing glare, fog, and UV damage. Below, our guide to navigating the available options and choosing the right pair.
Between DIY jobs, hobbyist projects, and professional tradeswork, wearing safety glasses is often a precaution. If you’ve been wearing safety glasses for years, you know that while they might all look the same to the untrained eye, they most definitely are not. Pairs run the gamut from basic to industrial-grade. Even among top models, substantial differences in design distinguish one from another. You must understand these differences to make the right choice for your needs. Below, our guide to making sense of the options, as well as our top picks among the best safety glasses available today.
- BEST FOR MOST PURPOSES: 3M Virtua CCS Protective Eyewear
- BEST PERIPHERAL PROTECTION: DEWALT Concealer Clear Anti-Fog Dual Mold Safety Goggle
- BEST HEAT RESISTANCE: Sellstrom Cutting Odyssey II Safety Goggles
Key Shopping Considerations
American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Approval
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a private organization that manages the voluntary standards system within the United States. While ANSI is not a governmental organization itself, it works closely with the government to set acceptable standards for safety equipment, machinery, tools, and more. That being the case, any pair of safety glasses you purchase should be ANSI-approved. Safety glasses that do not have ANSI certification have not yet met the threshold set out by the voluntary standards system and should not be expected to provide reliable protection.
Nothing’s more irksome than a product that breaks after the first or second use. But with safety glasses, low durability is more than frustrating—it actually puts your eyes at risk. For that reason, durability should be one of your highest priorities during the selection process. The frames of quality safety glasses are made of hard nylon to withstand being bent and twisted. Lenses, commonly rated for impact protection, should be made of highly durable polycarbonate.
Whether DIYing a home renovation or working on the job as an industry professional, you must be able to see clearly in order to do what you need to do. Safety glasses with polarized lenses increase visual clarity so that protecting your eyes doesn’t mean putting your hands and other body parts in jeopardy. Polarized lenses reduce the amount of reflecting light that enters the eye, providing a much sharper and clearer view of the task at hand, particularly outdoors or in brightly illuminated indoor work areas.
Peripheral coverage refers to the protection a given pair of safety glasses gives to the sides of your eyes. While the majority of objects that may impact your safety glasses will likely come from the front, there is a chance that a stray bit may fly up and strike to the left or right. While peripheral coverage often means a closed-in goggle style (vulnerable to fogging during use), there are also lightweight designs with 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
Safety glasses that protect from the sun’s harmful UV radiation are a must for many. Ultraviolet light can damage the cornea, causing corneal sunburn or macular degeneration, while also potentially contributing to cataract formation. So just as you apply sunscreen to save your skin, wear UV-rated safety glasses to protect your eyes when working outside.
Safety glasses that are easily scratched won’t serve you well. To invest in scratch-resistant safety glasses, check the package for a label indicating that the lenses have been treated in polycrystalline diamond or diamond-like carbon (DLC). While the initial cost of a scratch-resistant pair may be a little higher, you can expect such a pair to last a lot longer than a pair with scratch-prone lenses.
Many safety glasses include additional features that may be beneficial to specific individuals or in specific situations. For instance, some pairs allow you to attach hearing protection to the arms of the glasses. Others are vent-free and designed for use in extreme heat situations, such as wildfires.
The Best Safety Glasses
1. BEST FOR MOST PURPOSES: 3M Virtua CCS Protective Eyewear
For common projects around the house—replacing a door, for example, or sanding prior to painting—3M Virtua CCS safety glasses offer an ANSI approved impact rating and are lightweight enough to ensure a high level of comfort. The glasses also boast such 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.
2. BEST PERIPHERAL PROTECTION: Dewalt Anti-Fog Dual Mold Safety Goggles
If you want safety glasses that have full peripheral protection but are concerned about the lenses fogging up, this option from DEWALT may be for you. 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 the glasses snugly in place. They also have UVA and UVB protection for projects that have you out in the sun.
3. BEST HEAT RESISTANCE: Sellstrom Cutting Odyssey II Safety Goggles
If you’ll be cutting tile with a grinder or soldering using a blow torch, you need heat-resistant eye protection like that offered by the Sellstrom Cutting Odyssey II Safety Goggles. With heat-resistant lenses and a flame-resistant, adjustable band—not to mention indirect venting to reduce fogging—these ANSI-approved safety glasses will keep your eyes safe when the heat is on.