The Differences Between Safety Glasses and Regular Glasses


Whether you have just been told to purchase glasses or have been wearing glasses for some time, it may be intimidating to see all of the choices in front of you. On the positive side, we are lucky to live in a time where we have so many eyewear choices. But on the other hand, the choice can sometimes be overwhelming. While it is nice to have options, sometimes the simple fact of having so many options creates more stress in our minds. As part of this customer-first approach, we wanted to take the time in this article to discuss a key distinction that you may encounter when searching for your next pair of glasses. Specifically, this distinction comes down to safety glasses versus regular glasses.

At Rx-Safety, we are here to help you navigate through these decisions. We are proud of our stellar customer service and our focus on treating each customer like family.

Whether you have a job that requires you to work in challenging conditions or are simply a hobbyist, you may be wondering whether you should purchase safety glasses or regular glasses. It is an important distinction and one that you should consider before purchasing your next pair of glasses. Ultimately, by considering the differences below, you can be in a much better position to make the best choice for you.

Examining the Differences Between Safety Glasses and Regular Glasses

To start, one of the most obvious differences between safety glasses and regular glasses focuses on the lenses. Whether or not they contain prescription lenses, the lenses of safety glasses are much more protective of your eyes. To put it another way, these lenses have a higher standard of impact resistance as compared to the lenses within regular glasses.

The lenses of safety glasses are made from different types of materials, but the most popular is polycarbonate. Along with being more impact-resistant than standard glass lenses, polycarbonate lenses are lighter than standard lenses. That said, because they are softer, they are more susceptible to scratching. Luckily, however, wearers of polycarbonate lenses can purchase scratch-resistant coating to mitigate scratching on their lenses. Glass lenses are often perfectly fine for many different types of scenarios, but they may be less than ideal if you work in challenging conditions, as we will explain below.

Often, this higher standard of impact resistance within the lenses of safety glasses is indicated through the marking of that elevated standard on the glasses. For instance, one of the most well-respected safety standards in eyewear are standards from the American National Standards Institute (“ANSI”). To meet ANSI standards, lenses must pass a series of tests. One of these tests includes a so-called “drop ball” test. This test involves a one-inch steel ball being dropped on the lens from a height of 50 inches. If the lens does not crack, chip, or break, the lens passes the test. If it does crack, chip, or break, however, it may not be ANSI certified. This is just one of a series of tests that are designed to examine a lens’s durability under extreme pressure.

A lens containing ANSI or other standards signals that it can protect your eyes in the most challenging of environments. For instance, if you have a job that requires you to be in an environment with lots of flying dust or dirt, safety glasses that have lenses meeting ANSI or other standards may be the best option. They can also be a great option if you are playing a sport where is flying debris (like cycling or hunting). By contrast, regular glasses often do not meet these elevated safety standards. Even if a manufacturer claims that the lenses can withstand a severe impact, the fact that they do not meet one of these safety standards should make you skeptical.

Along with the nature of the lenses themselves, a key difference between safety glasses and regular glasses centers on the frames themselves. The frames of safety glasses can be made from a variety of materials, but one of the most popular is nylon due to its flexibility and light weight. The frames of regular glasses can also be made from many materials. Some of them include plastic or different types of metals (like titanium).

Like lenses, the frames of safety glasses are inherently designed to withstand a higher impact. The frames of safety glasses undergo tests to determine their durability. One of those tests is similar to the “drop ball” test, where a one-inch steel projectile weighing about 17 ounces is dropped onto a safety lens mounted in a frame. To pass the test, the frame must fully retain the lens and no piece can become detached or separated from the inner surface of the frame.

Again, this is just one test, but the fact remains that the frames of safety glasses are inherently designed to withstand severe impact. Once again, you will be able to determine whether the frames have passed these tests by looking for a marking on the frame itself. Often, you can find it on the front of the frame or one temple of the frame.

As you can guess, the frames of regular glasses are not designed to withstand significant impact. If they were to accidentally fall off while you are working in challenging conditions, for instance, there is a real chance that the frames could break. While it may be worth taking this risk in your normal, day-to-day life, it may be too risky if you foresee yourself working or playing in a challenging environment.

Take Note of Your Habits

These are the primary differences. They are relatively straightforward. Because of this, the best way to make your decision is to look at your habits and your preferences.

For example, you will certainly want to consider safety glasses if you are a machinist, plumber, carpenter, or laborer. In fact, your employer may require you to purchase safety glasses so that you can be safe while on the job. If you enjoy working on home improvement projects or yard work at home, you may also want to consider safety glasses, as these projects have the potential to cause eye injuries. And if you see yourself needing extra protection when playing your favorite sport, safety glasses can certainly do the job.

By contrast, if you don’t see yourself being in a situation where you need extra protection for your eyes, you will most likely be satisfied with regular glasses. These glasses will certainly help you see more clearly—even if they don’t offer that added protection from dust and debris hitting your lenses or frames. Regular glasses can be more stylish or aesthetically pleasing than safety glasses, so you may want to seriously consider them if aesthetics are a large factor when making your decision.

At Rx-Safety, we are happy to offer you a wide selection of both safety glasses and regular glasses. To view our collections, you can click on the tabs above and start browsing. On those pages, you can also use extensive filtering options to find the best pair for you. If you have any questions about these differences, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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