Safety glasses are essential to protecting one of our most valuable assets: our vision. With a wide variety of materials, tints, coatings, and finishes, it can be a bit tricky to narrow down which lenses you need to suit your needs. That’s why we have created this safety lens guide to help you select the perfect set of lenses to protect your eyes throughout all of your weekend projects or long work days.
ANSI Z87.1 Approved Prescription Safety Lenses
The ANSI Z87.1 standards for optical clarity and impact resistance provides specific requirements on eye and face protection allowed in the workplace. The “American National Standard Practice for Occupational and Educational Eye and Face Protection” implemented the ANSI Z87.1 standard to obligate employers to enforce the use of appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to hazardous materials, liquids, vapors, chemical or other harmful substances. The ANSI Z87.1 is the industrial standard for eyewear, and all of the information to follow on selecting safety lenses pertains to ANSI Z87.1 certified lenses.
Prescription Safety Lens Types
A lens type refers to which type of vision needs corrected. In today’s market, there are two main types of lenses, single vision and multifocal.
Safety Lens Materials
In addition to selecting a vision type, you may also be faced with picking a lens material. Today, there are three common lens materials, all of which can be safety approved. Regardless of which lens material you select, when you purchase ANSI eyewear and select any of the following materials, your lenses will feature an ANSI Z87.1 certified stamp in the upper temple corner of the lens.
If you still can’t decide which lens material is best for you, feel free to reach out and one of our prescription experts would be happy to assist you in picking the perfect material to suit your needs.
Prescription Safety Lens Surfacing Techniques
There are currently two methods to surfacing prescription lenses: conventional and digital. While conventional surfacing is the original, for safety lenses, this method is not recommended and you should stick to digital surfacing.
Digital lenses are always going to be recommended for prescription safety glasses because digital surfacing eliminates peripheral distortion. This allows your prescription to be accurate to the nearest 0.01 diopter (versus 0.25 with conventional surfacing) from edge to edge of the lens.
This digital technology is most beneficial in high wrap prescription safety sunglasses that have a curved lens as opposed to a flat lens. Non-digital lenses have more of an optical center than digital lenses, which means you can get some peripheral distortion with a non-digital lens as your prescription won’t be completely accurate from edge to edge.
Prescription Safety Lens Tints
A standard sunglass lens is a non-polarized, tinted lens, made of any of the materials listed above. While there are almost infinite lens tint choices, here are the most popular for safety use:
- Transitions Adaptive: This is known as the original Transitions lens, transitioning from clear to grey or brown.
- Transitions Xtractive: If you intend to do any driving in your new Transitions lenses, you will want to opt for the Xtractive version. Traditional Transitions lenses will not darken in the car while driving because modern windshields have UV blockers present, which prevent the chemical reaction necessary to darken your lenses. Xtractive is the exception! Not only will these lenses work while driving, they get a bit darker than the original Transitions lenses too, making them ideal for those with light sensitivity.
- Transitions Vantage: Transitions Vantage lenses are great for patients seeking a versatile lens but who still need polarization in their sunglasses. When these lenses are clear, the polarization filter will not work, which allows you to use your computer uninhibited, but once the lenses darken in the sun, the polarization works in full force.
Sunglass Lens Treatments
Polarization: A polarized lens drastically reduces glare from the sun as it reflects off of bodies of water, ice, snow, or pavement. This type of glare can actually be more harmful to our eyes than the light which comes directly for the sun! Polarized lenses also tend to make colors a bit more crisp and vibrant, and most eye doctors recommend polarization as it is better for the eye’s overall health. The only tints that polarization won’t work in are clear lenses.
If you spend a lot of time looking at a screen for work, you will likely want to avoid polarization. Most people purchasing safety eyewear prefer non-polarized lenses unless your job has you spending time near the water, or in places where glare is prominent (cities with tall windowed buildings, cars, etc).
Anti-Reflective Coating: An anti-reflective, or A/R, coating is applied to the front side of any lens which is clear or goes clear (like Transitions lenses) or to the back side of any sunglass lens. These coatings are designed to improve optical clarity by blocking annoying reflections from invading your lenses.
A front A/R on a clear safety lens makes your optics crisper, and also allows others to see your eyes when they look at you, rather than seeing the reflections in your lenses. When applied to the back side of a lens, an A/R finish prevents reflections from light that may seep in from the frame’s top, bottom, or most commonly, sides. While this is optional for standard grey, brown, copper, etc sun lenses, any time a mirror finish is applied to the front of the lens, a backside A/R is automatically included.
Hard Coat: Some labs offer hard coats which are scratch-resistant coatings. Because safety glasses tend to take a bit of a beating, especially in professions where dust and debris are common in the air, a hard coat will improve the longevity of your prescription eyewear.
Mirror Coating: Mirror coatings are the hyper-reflective treatments applied to the front of a lens, and they are beneficial for a number of reasons, the first of which being aesthetics. Many people enjoy mirror finishes as they make a lens totally opaque, meaning that lookers on cannot see through the lenses. Aesthetics aside, mirror finishes also enhance contrast, repel glare, and darken the lens. Mirror finishes come in various colors from subtle black and bronze mirrors to vibrant blue, orange, and purple mirrors.
Whenever a mirror coating is applied to the front of a lens, a backside anti-reflective coating will be applied to the back of a lens. Because mirror finishes are so reflective, the backside A/R prevents reflected light from becoming trapped on the inside of the lens, which can be distracting.
Fun fact, you can also add a mirror coating to a transitions lens! At their clearest, the mirror will look like a standard A/R coating, but when the lenses darken, you’ll have a darker lens that lookers on can’t see through.
Anti-Fog: If you will be working in a humid climate, an anti-fog coating is likely an excellent add-on for you. This coating is applied to the back of your lenses to keep your lenses from fogging up.
If you have any other questions about safety lenses, feel free to give us a call at 888-507-1230, or send us an email at email@example.com and we would be happy to further assist you in selecting the perfect pair of prescription safety glasses.