Your ultimate guide to PPE eye protection

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Eyesight is one of our main senses and losing it doesn’t bear thinking about. Safety is in our DNA, and helping you make the right decision about PPE eye protection is a role we take seriously.

Thousands of eye injuries occur every year, with one in five causing partial or complete blindness. Eye protection is a crucial first line of defence for one of the body’s most vulnerable organs.

This article will explain what the different types of eye protection are, when you should wear it, how to wear it properly, and the safety standards you need to be aware of.

What are the different types of PPE eye protection?

Safety glasses

These may take the form of separate lenses in a metal or plastic frame, similar in appearance to prescription glasses, or have a single lens/frame moulding, with most designs having side shields. Spectacles can incorporate corrective lenses, while over-glasses may fit over prescription glasses.


Unlike safety glasses, safety goggles are secured to the face with an elasticated strap that runs around the back of the head. They normally include an inner seal to close the gap between the lens and face. They provide protection from all angles, as the whole rim is in contact with the face.

Face shields

A face shield is a form of PPE that aims to protect the entire face, or part of it, from flying debris, objects, and chemical splashes. Face shields are a large lens with a frame and adjustable head harness or are mounted on a helmet.

Close Up Safety Glasses

When should eye protection be worn?

There are many working environments that will require eye protection. Here are some of the most common scenarios:


The biggest risk to eyes when working with wood is dust. Sanding and grinding produce a very fine spray of wood particles. As a minimum, this would cause eye irritation, if not worse problems and damage. Full safety goggles are again the most suitable form of eye protection.


The main risk to eyes in a laboratory is chemicals. If a hazardous or corrosive substance has been spilt or splashed and gets in or near the eye, it could result in irreparable damage. The most suitable eye protection is full safety goggles with a protective seal and should be always worn.


There are multiple risks to eyes on a construction site, including smoke, dust, light exposure, and even electrical discharge. The most suitable eye protection that someone needs on a construction site will depend on the exact environment, but full safety goggles may well be needed.

Cold Weather

Keeping vision at its best as well as keeping the eyes protected is an important consideration when choosing eye protection. As goggles and glasses are more likely to suffer from misting and fogging in cold temperatures, it’s important to choose a product with an anti-mist lens coating.

Safety Glasses Close Up

How do you wear eye protection correctly?

As with other forms of PPE, having the right eye protection is about more than just choosing the product. Before putting them on, make sure you thoroughly inspect your safety goggles or safety glasses. Look for dents, scratches, and cracks that could reduce the item’s protective capabilities.

As safety eyewear is often exposed for extended periods to harsh environments, flying debris, and other hazards, they will suffer from wear and tear and even decay over time. If you are ever unsure whether your eye protection is still suitable, replace the item promptly.

Can eye protection be worn over prescription glasses?

Your eyesight should never be lessened just so you can wear safety glasses, it would be equally dangerous. Prescription safety glasses can be expensive, so you should always try to wear your safety glasses over your normal glasses, which will protect both your eyes and the glasses’ lenses.

If you plan to wear safety glasses over your prescription ones, then make sure they are comfortable and secure. Do not compromise when choosing safety eyewear, and if possible, choose safety glasses that are specifically designed to fit comfortably over prescription eyewear.

What are the safety standards for PPE eye protection?

We’ve made it easy to check the standards for safety glasses and safety goggles in our catalogue. The below gives you a breakdown of the most important EN standards:

  • EN166 standard offering protection from impact hazards caused by fast-moving particles
  • EN170 standard that applies to ultraviolet filters
  • EN172 specified for sun glare filters and in eye-protectors for industrial use

And here are the EN166 markings to look for on products:

  • 1 - Specifies the lens clarity of which 1 is the best
  • F - Denotes the impact protection (low energy impact at 45 metres per second)
  • T - Indicates the frame can withstand impact at high and low temperatures
  • K - The lens is coated to be anti-scratch
  • N - The lens is coated to be resistant to misting and fogging

How can I get the best advice on PPE eye protection?

We’re PPE and safety experts and can give you the best advice and guidance on which type of safety glasses, safety goggles, or face shields to use. We help you work safer and be better, so call us today on 01202 718000 or fill out our contact form and we will be in touch.

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