Sunglasses and safety glasses are both types of eyewear designed to protect the eyes, but they are used for different purposes. Sunglasses are primarily worn to protect the eyes from harmful UV radiation and to reduce glare, while safety glasses are worn to protect the eyes from impact and other hazards in the workplace or other environments.

Sunglasses: Fashionable Protection from UV Radiation and Glare

Sunglasses are typically made with lenses that are tinted to reduce glare and block UV radiation. They are often worn for fashion or to improve visibility in bright conditions.

Safety Glasses: Essential Protection in Hazardous Environments

Safety glasses, on the other hand, are designed to protect the eyes from impact and other hazards, such as flying debris or chemical splashes. They are commonly worn in construction, manufacturing, and other industries where there is a risk of eye injuries.

While both sunglasses and safety glasses can provide some level of UV protection, safety glasses are generally not as effective at blocking UV radiation as sunglasses. However, some safety glasses are available with special coatings or lenses that provide additional UV protection.

Considerations for UV Protection and Impact Resistance

It's important to choose the right type of eyewear for the specific purpose you have in mind. If you need protection from UV radiation or glare, sunglasses may be the better choice. If you need protection from impact or other hazards, safety glasses may be the better choice.

Features to Look For in Safety Glasses

Safety sunglasses should comply with American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards. This will be stated on the packaging and on the frame of the glasses. Look for lenses that cover the protection you need:

  • Anti-Scratch – protects from lens surface damage, maintaining the optical clarity.
  • Anti-Mist/Anti-Fog – prevents the lens from misting/fogging to keep vision clear.
  • Anti-Glare (EN172) – reduces sun-glare, common for eyewear worn outdoors.
  • Welding filters (EN169) – To varying degrees, these provide protection from welding and related activities.
  • Ultraviolet (UV) filters (EN170) – provides protection from exposure to UV.

Important! Some people mistakenly believe that dark sunglasses will provide the needed protection when welding, brazing, or cutting. This is far from the truth. A darkened lens will not protect your eyes from the infrared (IR) and ultra-violet (UV) radiation.

OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.133(a)(6) prohibits the use of photo-grey lenses for safety glasses at inside work locations which have variable lighting conditions, because the variable tint lenses would cause temporary vision impairment when the light changes from bright to dim or vice versa in the work area.