Worker holding up a pair of over-prescription safety glasses

There's a common myth that safety glasses can harm your vision. While this is understandable because a few workers may experience discomforts such as headaches, nausea, or eye fatigue.

The short answer is no. Wearing safety eyewear cannot damage your vision. But, here's a better explanation. If safety glasses meet ANSI Z87.1 standards, are in good condition, fit well, and are appropriate for the task, they are not bad for the eyes.

What Does ANSI Say?

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a nonprofit organization that creates uniform testing standards and guidelines for various products, and equipment businesses use in nearly every sector. For example, their Z87.1 standard helps ensure that personal eye and face protection devices provide optical clarity, protection from impact, non-ionizing radiation, and liquid splash exposures. That standard states that:

“The long term use of eye protectors which meet the requirements of ANSI Z87.1 will not harm or weaken the eyes of the wearer.”

Signs and causes of eye discomfort with safety glasses

Do you experience eye discomfort when wearing safety glasses? If so, you're not alone. Eye strain and eye fatigue are common side effects of wearing safety eyewear. Here are some signs of eye strain and eye fatigue:

  • Dry or watery eyes
  • Soreness of eyes
  • Trouble focusing
  • Blurred vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Headache "behind the eyes"

The most common causes of eye discomfort from wearing safety glasses

1. Poor fit - If your safety glasses don't fit well, they will be uncomfortable to wear. Make sure the frame fits your face comfortably and positions the eyewear, so you're looking through the center of the lens. Frames that are too tight will cause pressure points and "hot spots," which may lead to headaches over time.

2. Poor quality lenses - Cheap, low-quality lenses can cause a lot of eye fatigue and strain. Make sure to buy safety glasses with high-quality lenses.

3. Scratched lenses - Using beat-up lenses will affect the quality of your vision and cause unnecessary eye strain and fatigue.

4. Wrong lens tint - If you're using the wrong lens tint for the job, it can cause a lot of eye fatigue and strain. Make sure to use the right lens tint for the task at hand.

5. Wrong frame size - If your safety glasses are too small or too large, they will be uncomfortable to wear. Make sure to get fitted for the correct frame size.

Safety Glasses are Beneficial

In fact, safety glasses are beneficial, and not wearing them could be harmful to the eyes. Our blog article "Why Wear Safety Eyewear" details the reasons for wearing safety eyewear.
Safety Glasses 2
Here are a few of those reasons:

  • Are required in many work environments.
  • Save time and money by preventing injury and its associated costs.
  • Can enhance vision.
  • Protect eyes from the harmful rays of the sun.
  • Are the best defense against eye injuries at work, at home, and during recreational activities.

“Across the board, safety eyewear protects against serious injury from virtually every eye hazard. Wearing safety eyewear when risks are most prevalent goes a long way in preventing 90% of serious damage to eyes.”

Safety glasses themselves will not hurt your eyes or damage vision. However, if you're experiencing any problems while wearing them, it's likely for a reason with a simple fix. Selecting the right safety eyewear will likely eliminate any issues you have.

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