What Does the Eyewear Designation ASTM F803 Stand for and Why is it Important?


Unless you had expertise in the world of glasses and safety standards, there are a lot of numbers and codes that can seem like gibberish. If you’ve ever noticed the designation ASTM F803 when looking at the protective eyewear for sports and work activities, you probably don’t understand what it means. Even if you realize it is related in some way to safety, it may just look like a bunch of letters and numbers.

Perhaps you are like some people who disregard the use of safety goggles and eyewear when they are taking part in sports and other activities. The regulations and safety guidelines are there for a reason and while some sports bodies may not enforce them, or if you only participate in sports on a local and non-professional level you may not be required to wear them. However, most of the main sporting bodies, across all disciplines, require that protective eyewear be worn.

As well as discussing the ASTM F803 designation and what it means and covers, therefore, we will discuss why it is important and why you should wear protective eyewear that meets that particular standard as well as some of the most popular and reputable brands who produce protective eyewear that meets the standard.

What Does the Eyewear Designation ASTM F803 Stand for? The F803 standard is the strictest of its kind in relation to protective eyewear and has been outlined to ensure participants in various sports involving high-impact activities are protected. It covers sports like handball, tennis, paddleball, badminton, squash, racquetball, basketball, lacrosse, baseball and soccer.

What is ASTM?

The ASTM originally was the American Society for Testing and Materials and was established in 1898 as a section of the already existing International Association for Testing Materials that dealt specifically with American standards. It is one of the oldest organizations involved in setting standards. The ASTM predates many of the other respected names like ISO, AFNOR, ANSI, DIN, IEC and BSI. 

The organization publishes the protective eyewear standards related to various sports. 

The F803 standard is the strictest of its kind in relation to protective eyewear and has been outlined to ensure participants in various sports involving high-impact activities are protected. It covers sports like handball, tennis, paddleball, badminton, squash, racquetball, basketball, lacrosse, baseball and soccer

The impacts it protects against includes fingers, elbows, hands, soccer balls, basketballs, softballs and baseballs that can cause adnexa and other injuries to eyes. 

For glasses to meet the ASTM F803 standard, they need to pass a nigh velocity impact resistance test, where the glasses need to withstand forces from projectiles that are sized between 40 and 65.1 mm and fire at speeds of up to 90 mph. Most companies also test the glasses frames and the clarity and strength of the lenses. 

Why is Protective Sports Eyewear So Important?

Beyond the rules and regulations that are in place by many sports governing bodies that stipulate the use of protective equipment and eyewear as being compulsory, there are other reasons why you shouldn’t take the subject lightly. Eye injury is a common problem for participants in various sports. 

Consider the fact that over 600,000 eye injuries that occur every year happen as a result of some form of recreation or sports activity.

On average, about every 13 minutes, someone visits a hospital emergency room suffering from an eye injury they sustained from taking part in sports of some kind

A startling 90% of all the eye injuries that occur as a result of sports and recreational activities could so easily be avoided if the appropriate eyewear with protective qualities, like those with the ASTN F803 designation, was worn by participants.

What Kind of Injuries Can Occur if You Don’t Wear Protective Glasses During Sports?

If those worrying statistics don’t encourage you to invest in protective eyewear while you participate in sports, then we’re not sure what would. Perhaps looking in greater detail at the kind of accidents and injuries that can occur by not being protected. 

To highlight the dangers, we are going to discuss them separately. 

The first thing that’s worth pointing out that sports can be categorized as being low risk, high risk or very high risk.

  • Low-Risk Sports – these are sports that don’t involve any body contact or the use of a racquet, bat, stick, puck or ball. Sports in this category would include cycling, gymnastics, swimming and track and field.
  • High-Risk Sports – these are sports that involve body contact and the use of a racquet, stick, bat, puck and ball. Sports in this category include water polo, fencing, tennis, table tennis and other racquet sports, lacrosse, football, hockey, basketball and baseball.
  • Very High-Risk Sports – these are sports that do not involve the use of eye protectors at all such as contact martial arts, wrestling and boxing. 

Most Common Eye Injuries

Now we’ve discussed the categories in terms of risk, it’s time to discuss the actual eye injuries and the most common are radiation injuries from sunlight, penetrating injuries and blunt trauma.

  • Radiation Injuries – these, as the name suggests, are injuries caused by too much exposure to the ultraviolet rays from the sun. These are most commonly experienced in sports like winter sports like skiing and water sports like water skiing and other activities. 
  • Penetrating Injuries – again, these are self-explanatory and occur when something not only comes into contact with your eye but cuts or perforates it in some way. However, it is worth noting that these are not nearly as common as other injuries. These often occur if eyeglasses are broken while you are wearing them and participating in sport or if an opponent or teammate’s fingers scratch against your eyes. They can range in seriousness from very mild to the very severe cuts. Fishing hooks are another major cause of penetrating eye injury. 
  • Blunt Trauma – these are injuries that happen when something hits against your eyes. These are the most commonly occurring sports eye injuries. One side of the spectrum, eyelid and eye bruising, often referred to as black eye, looks more serious than it actually is, whereas the most serious include a detached retina (as it sounds), ruptured globe (broken eyeball) and orbital blowout fracture (where the bone underneath the eye breaks). 

If you want to avoid those kinds of injuries, it is important to invest in good quality protective eyewear that meets the ASTN F803 standard. 

What Options Are Out There?

There are various protective eyewear manufacturers out there these days. Although the industry is still very young, it is expanding all the time and it is, therefore, becoming much easier to find suitable eyewear for whatever activity you are taking part in.

At RX-Safety, we carry protective sports eyewear made by five of the best of the best manufacturers including,

Leader Sports Eyewear

Leader Sports Eyewear is designed and manufactured by Hilco and is a great choice for both adults and children looking to enjoy a wide variety of different sports safely and protected. Although they are one of the more recent brands who have started catering specifically to the ASTN F803, they have a great selection to choose from and are an affordable option. 

Rec Specs Liberty Optical Eyewear 

Rec Specs Liberty Optical was the first brand to really put protective eyewear on the market. They are still by many people, considered to be the best of the best. This is largely due to the fact that since they have built up a trusted reputation over the years for their innovative and high spec designs. As a further indication of their prolific status within the industry, they were the first manufacturer of protective sports eyewear to receive a seal of acceptance from the American Optometric Association. 

One of the defining qualities of the glasses produced by Rec Specs is how comfortable they are. The company have designed them to feature bridges and temples that have soft internal padding so that they fit precisely but also feel good for however long you wear them. Even if the unisex shaped and sizing does not feel comfortable when you first try them on, you can adjust them to meet your own preferences thanks to their straps. Undoubtedly you want to feel protected, but above that, you want to feel comfortable enough to enjoy whatever sport you are taking part in. That’s what you get with sports protective eyewear from Rec Specs.

Bolle Sports Eyewear

Bolle Sports glasses are a high-quality option that the company released soon after Rec Specs. Their designs are known for their innovative use of technology to offer the best level of protection for your eyes whether you are playing on the diamond, court or field.

One of the things that really makes Bolle stand out is the fact that they have built eyewear that meets some of the strictest safety standards, like the ASTN F803. They are also designed to meet standards such as ASN 787+ and EN166 Safety. So not only can their eyewear protect you against impact and heat, but dust as well. The glasses also benefit from very cutting-edge shock absorption systems.

The glasses produced by Bolle are also renowned for their durability and robustness, but also comfort too. One of the innovations the company has introduced is the amazing click and twist system that ensures the glasses frame wraps comfortably and securely to your face. There is no chance when you have an appropriately sized pair, that they are going to be knocked or fall off your face at the most important and intense moments in a match, game or event. This really can make all the difference to ensuring your eyes are suitably protected from the very first kick or hit to the very last goal or point.

Wiley X Sports Eyewear

Wiley X started releasing protective sports eyewear around the same time as Bolle following the success Rec Specs had. They are particularly known for their slick and streamlined approach to designs and it is the youth range we carry at RX Safety. As well as meeting the ASTN F803 and current ANSI standards. This means that your kids are always protected to the highest degree when they are taking part in various sports activities. 

As well as meeting all the strict safety standards, they are also designed with the wear and tear and use and abuse that comes from being worn by younger sports competitors. With spring hinges and durable Triloid, the frames are very tough. 

Whatever you are looking for and whatever sports activity you need to wear protective eyewear for, you will find it here at RX Safety. Particularly if you are looking for eyewear that meets the strict, but very important ASTN F803 standard.

If you are an amateur, there may not be any rules in place that state you need to wear protective eyewear. However, we hope we have managed to convince you of the importance that you do. Not only will it help to boost your performance but protect you as well.

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