By Darren Mirau, OVC Coordinator at The Saskatchewan Association of Optometrists
Protective safety eyewear is a must in the industrial setting, but picking the right frames and lenses can be overwhelming. The following information may bring things into focus for you.
First, when choosing a frame it is important to remember that “safety may not be sexy” and that the priority of safety glasses is to protect your eyes from injury. A good selection of “cool” frames are available these days. Proper fit of the frame is priority to give maximum coverage of the eye and therefore maximum safety. Well-fitted frames should fit close to the brow and cheek line and are equipped with permanent side shields. The Z94.3 marking on them confirm that they meet the CSA standards.
Next you need to choose your lenses. Your doctor’s office staff will happily guide you through this process and help you to make decisions regarding lens styles, materials, coatings, and other features. The one coating that should always be applied to prescription safety eyewear is the highest quality scratch resistant coating available. This coating is not “scratch proof” but will be the best way to prolong the life of your eyewear. Other popular lens options include anti-reflection and ultraviolet (UV) coatings, tints, and photo chromatic lenses. The choice of these will be considered based on your specific job requirements or past personal preference.
Anti-reflection coatings are recommended for computer users and for use in cutting down glare therefore making it easier to see clearly. This type of coating may only be applied to specific lens materials to maintain lens strength. It can also be harder to keep clean in a dusty working environment.
Recommended UV protection is obtained through scratch resistant and anti-reflective coatings but can be applied independently to ensure 100 per cent coverage up to the 400 nanometer range. As UV exposure can lead to corneal damage, check with your optometrist to ensure that you have sufficient UV coverage for your occupational needs.
CSA standards approve light tints for indoor use that block no more than 30% of light. This is a permanent tint that some find helpful for glare reduction. This tint intensity is not considered a sunglass. If your company allows a second pair as prescription safety sunglasses, they can be manufactured to your desired tint intensity and should be used for outdoor use only.
Photo chromatic lenses lighten inside and darken when exposed to UV light. It is the employers decision whether to allow these lenses as the CSA has not included them in their guidelines and are recommended for employees spending time outdoors. With the popularity of this type of lens in general use glasses, you may find it necessary to have this feature in safety eyewear. The length of time required for a photo chromatic lens to lighten when returning indoors could be hazardous without adaptation.
When you receive your new safety glasses an initial visual assessment and fitting will be done with the dispensing staff. Some lenses will require an adaptation period but any abnormal blurring; peripheral distortion or visual acuity problems are unsafe and unacceptable in the work environment. These concerns should be addressed immediately.
Remember that once you have prescription safety eyewear; make sure that they protect your eyes and not your pocket.
For information about a comprehensive Prescription Safety Eyewear Program, personalized for your company, contact Darren Mirau, OVC Coordinator at The Saskatchewan Association of Optometrists (SAO) at 306-652-2069.