Modern safety glasses are useful under many more conditions than you might think.
The safety glasses of old – heavy, distortive things, used only for the most dangerous jobs because they were so cumbersome and because they actually inhibited vision – are long gone. Today’s safety glasses are light and fully functional. They come in a variety of styles, from classic eyewear frames to sleek goggles to streamlined wraparound models that rival the looks of the most expensive sunglasses.
The lenses on today’s safety glasses have vastly improved, as well. Forget the fact that safety glasses now offer all the same options of standard eyewear (including tints, transition lenses, and extra coatings like anti-reflective, scratch resistance, UV protection, and anti-fog), options never available in years past. For anyone who wears corrective eyewear – and that’s a lot of us – the more exciting development is that modern safety glass lenses are also available in prescription form. Any prescription, and an exact prescription, at that. Not a generic magnification-level adjustment but a true prescription, customized to your exact vision-correction needs.
All these advancements render prescription safety glasses virtually indistinguishable from regular prescription glasses. There is, however, one very large difference, and that’s the material from which they’re made. If a pebble kicked up from a lawnmower made a direct strike on standard plastic lenses, they’d shatter…not a happy outcome when you consider your lenses’ proximity to your eye. Safety glasses may chip or at worst crack, but they’d certainly do their job: protect your precious eyesight under conditions that would obliterate standard plastic or glass lenses.
So what exactly are safety eyewear lenses composed of? Polycarbonate, which is a resin composite that was developed and perfected in the early Fifites. Polycarbonate material has tolerances that make it many times more resilient than standard plastic, a characteristic that makes it shatterproof. Airplane cockpits and bulletproof glass are made of polycarbonate, so you can be sure that a pair of polycarbonate safety glasses will keep your eyes safe at the job, in the shop or garage, around the yard.
It’s true that polycarbonate lenses cost more than standard lenses – approximately double the price, in fact. But that equates only to an additional $10 or so added to the overall price of your glasses. Most people do not consider prescription glasses to be disposable, anyway, so the investment in stronger, more durable material certainly pays off in the lifespan of safety glasses.
And isn’t your eyesight worth an additional $10? One accident, one mishap, one trip to the emergency room will cost you far more, and not just in financial terms. If you engage in tasks that put you at risk of being hit by splinters, gravel, metal filings, shattering glass, kicked-up rocks, or any kind of flying debris, you’ll be most thankful to have a barrier of polycarbonate between the danger and your eyes.
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