The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health estimates that 2,000 people daily in the United States sustain workplace eye injuries severe enough to require medical attention. Of these injuries, more than a third are due to flying debris striking an unprotected eye. Many of the remaining injuries occur from chemicals or liquids splashing the eyes. All of these injuries can be prevented by using safety glasses, including those with prescriptions.
For eyeglasses to be used as safety glasses, the lenses must be placed in an approved prescription eyeglass frame. Guidelines on prescription safety glass frames are established by OSHA.
Prescription safety eyeglass frames are available in a variety of styles, materials and sizes. Most are made from a type of plastic called zyl or metal. They are designed for durability, but are available in various styles for both men and women. All safety eyeglass frames, regardless of material or style, must pass high-mass and velocity impact and durability testing. Permanently attached or removable side shields are available on prescription safety frames.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) provides standards for prescription safety eyeglasses in the United States. These standards, given in a publication called ANSI Z87.1, include specifications for frame and lens identification marks. Lenses that have passed high-impact testing and are approved for safety use are engraved with a “+” mark. All portions of a prescription eyeglass frame must be permanently marked with the stamp “Z87-2” so that they can be appropriately identified.
Prescription safety frames must fit properly to provide adequate protection. These frames can be purchased only from an approved eye-care provider. The selection and fitting of frames should be performed by a trained optician. Broken prescription safety eyeglass frames must be repaired using only approved parts marked with the “Z87-2” stamp. Never attempt to repair prescription safety frames at home, as this will compromise the frames’ ability to protect the eyes.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology estimates that up to 90 percent of eye injuries could be prevented with the use of properly fitted safety eye-wear. Prescription safety eye-wear must be provided by the workplace if an individual is at risk for injury. Safety frames mounted with prescription lenses can be provided by many eye-care providers for use at home.