What are the Limits on Prescription Safety Glasses?

Prescription safety glasses come in all sorts of great wraparound styles that don’t require side shields, but can they all take my prescription?

What are the Limits on Prescription Safety Glasses?

Most people don’t want side shields on their prescription safety glasses. They’d much rather have a cool wraparound frame that gives them equal or better coverage compared to prescription safety glasses with side shields.

The dilemma here is that not all wraparound-style prescription safety glasses can take all prescriptions. Most frames with lens curvature have limits on what prescriptions will work in them, and for good reason: if you have a high prescription and try to put it into a curved lens, you’re going to have distortion, headaches, and bad vision if you try to use it. Aside from being obviously unusable, prescription safety glasses with high prescriptions in wraparound frames also defeat their purpose if you can’t see well out of them. That’s the farthest thing from safe.

There is another issue with the subject of prescription safety glasses and high prescriptions: not all wraparound safety frames are equal, and what doesn’t work in one might actually work in another.

So how do you know the limits on wraparound prescription safety glasses?

  • You can expect that any wraparound frame has a lens curvature of at least 6 base (8 base being very curved at the front of the lens and 0 base being completely flat on the front of the lens). In a 6 base lens, a lab experienced in wraparound prescriptions can generally get a cumulative power (per eye) between -6.00 and +3.00. 
  • If you have cylinder power stronger than -2.00, your prescription probably will not work in wraparound prescription safety glasses.
  • Our site has limits on many of our frames which tell you what works for that specific frame, but there are rare cases where a prescription adds up in such a way that you will be able to get it into our form even though it won’t work in the frame. In this case, we’ll call you to talk about it when we see your order.
  • Some frames also have issues with pupil distance. This is a finicky, case-by-case scenario that factors in your prescription type, lens color, pupil distance, and frame choice, but it’s generally only an issue for people with progressive bifocals. If you are wondering if your pupil distance will work in a certain frame, call us.
  • Some people have problems with prescriptions in wraparound frames even though their prescription is not very strong. These people are “wraparound non-adapts,” much like those who can’t adapt to progressive lenses. This has nothing to do with their prescription strength or their personal preference; their eyes simply cannot get used to a prescription in a curved lens. This is exceedingly rare, but if you know you’re a wraparound non-adapt, you should avoid ordering wraparound prescription safety glasses.

Prescription safety glasses in wraparound frames look better, are more comfortable, and tend to last longer than prescription safety glasses in flat frames with side shields. If you are shopping for prescription safety glasses online and can get a wraparound, we suggest that you do. Safety eyewear is safer when it’s comfortable and looks good because, if you like to wear it, you’re less likely to skip the safety glasses to cut corners.

If you have any questions about prescription safety glasses, prescription limits, or wraparound frames, give us a call or leave your question in the comments! Also, if you have any comments or anything to add to the discussion, please leave it below. We’d love to know what you have experienced while shopping for prescription safety glasses.

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