Eye protection buying guide

Eye protection buying guide

John, DIYer & IT developer, Brighton

Guide written by:

John, DIYer & IT developer, Brighton

It's essential to wear the right type of eye protection when working with chemicals or performing tasks like grinding or sawing. Safety goggles or glasses are designed to shield you from chips, dust, chemicals or any other type of flying debris. Read on to find the right type of eye protection for your task.

Important features

  • Strength
  • Shape
  • Protection
  • Standards
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Choosing the best eye protection

Safety goggles and glasses must conform to the European safety standard EN 166. The product must feature a CE mark and the arms and lenses of the safety glasses or goggles must be marked with a code indicating the type of protection offered.

Optical quality

The optical quality of the lens is rated from 1 for frequent use to 3 for occasional use. All the same, it's always better to go for more protection than you think you might need – and be sure to pair your eye protection with protective gloves!

Lens properties 

Resistance to impacts and particles is as follows.

  • F: lens offers resistance to slow-moving particles (travelling up to 45 metres per second); frame protects against low-energy impact.

  • B: lens offers resistance to particles moving at moderate seed (up to 120 metres per second); frame protects against medium-energy impact.

  • FT: lens offers resistance to slow-moving particles and extreme temperatures (-5°C à 55°C); frame protects against low-energy impact and extreme temperatures.

  • K : lens protected against surface damage by fine particles.

  • N: resistance to fogging.

Additionally, your eye protection may filter out cancer-causing UV rays, infrared light (look for a rating of 4 on the radiation protection scale), or provide protection fromsun glare (rated 5 or 6). Please note that safety goggles do not offer sufficient protection against soldering sparks; only a soldering mask will protect you in this case.

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Safety glasses

Safety goggles vs. safety glasses

There are two basic types of eye protection:

Safety goggles

Think: science class. Safety goggles are designed to cover your eyes entirely and will also offer protection from the sides, which is essential when working with dangerous chemicals or flying debris. You can usually fit safety goggles to your face by adjusting the elastic. Safety goggles can be bulky which is annoying if you have to wear respiratory protection, but handy if you need to wear glasses underneath. Foam padding will offer some much-appreciated comfort as safety goggles do tend to dig in and mark the skin. It is a good idea to look out for goggles with ventilation holes on the sides to avoid fogging!

Safety glasses

They are more comfortable than safety goggles. However, they also offer less protection as debris can enter from the sides if the glasses are very open in design. They are therefore not very well suited to tasks involving a lot of flying material. That said, it is possible to find wrap-around glasses that are designed to stay very close to the skin. To sum up, while safety glasses may be more comfortable, they do not offer the same level of protection as safety goggles.

Safety standards and price

The CE mark indicates that the product has been tested to the relevant safety standards. Pricier safety goggles or glasses will offer more comfortable features (higher quality padding, arm adjustment, nose pieces, etc.) which means they can safely be used for longer. There's nothing more annoying than having to pause your task because your goggles have fogged up. But most importantly, there's nothing more dangerous than finishing your job without protection!

3 tips for choosing your eye protection

  1. Only buy eye protection that conforms to the safety standard EN 166.

  2. Check out the safety classifications before purchasing to ensure the eye protection matches your job. It's a good idea to have a few pairs of safety goggles and glasses to swap out according to the task at hand for optimal comfort and protection.

  3. That said, don't bother hanging onto impractical or uncomfortable goggles: you'll never use them. Finally, never try to save money when it comes to buying protective equipment. Remember: making the wrong choice could put your eyesight at risk.

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Guide written by:

John, DIYer & IT developer, Brighton

John, DIYer & IT developer, Brighton

Since I was a child, I was always interested in manual and technical work. Always fascinated by woodworking, I took advantage of my first flat as a playground. On the cards: electricity (of course, safety first!) and some partition walls; but also decorating with the help of the missus, made-to-measure furniture and little tricks to optimise the space, all the while remaining as original as possible. When the little one arrived, I started building bits and pieces for him! Lacking space, I have not got a permanent workshop and certain tools I dream about are not part of my collection. Not to worry, I already know a lot about DIY and I have a high-tech profile that I hope will guide you in your decisions!

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