6 Features To Consider When Choosing Safety Glasses

Safety glasses offer invaluable protection for your eyes when doing work around the farm. Follow these tips to get the right pair for your needs.

by J. Keeler Johnson
PHOTO: J. Keeler Johnson

Generally speaking, I’m not the type to replace tools and equipment too soon. I’ll patch up leaky hoses and use beat-up yard carts until they’re falling apart. If a little effort and/or a quick repair job can extend their useful life, I’m all for it!

Why be wasteful and discard them prematurely?

But eventually, even I have to acknowledge all the life has been squeezed out of a given item. I’m afraid I’ve reached this point with my latest pair of safety glasses.

I don’t remember when I got them—it was quite a while ago. But wear and tear has definitely caught up with them. They’re badly scratched up (riding around in my pocket probably hasn’t helped). They’ve also become permanently fogged in places, so it’s difficult to see through them clearly.

I’m starting to shop for a new pair of safety goggles (no farmer should be without eye protection!), and while I don’t want to overthink an inexpensive purchase, another part of me wants to compare features and find the absolute best choice. Because truth be told, safety goggles offer a surprising number of features!

Here are some of the factors I’m considering while shopping for safety goggles.

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Glasses or Goggles?

While it seems these terms are somewhat interchangeable, it’s helpful to think of glasses as lenses that don’t fit tightly around your face (like regular eyeglasses). Goggles as tight-fitting lenses designed to conform to your face and provide a perfect seal for greater protection.

Glasses and goggles both have their strengths and weaknesses. I’ve traditionally favored glasses, but I’m tempted to choose a goggles type this time around. I often find myself sawing down tree branches from points above my head. You’d be surprised how often sawdust particles can float down, sneak behind loose-fitting lenses, and find their way into my eyes.

Read more: Do you need safety glasses for farm work? Absolutely! Here’s why.

How Are They Worn?

Some safety glasses are designed like typical eyeglasses, with a pair of folding arms that ride over your ears to hold the lenses in place. But others forego the folding arms in favor of an elastic band that wraps around the back of your head, similar to a face mask.

I’ll be happy with either, so long as I find the other features I’m after.

Anti-fog Coating

There are probably things more annoying than safety glasses fogging up so badly you can’t see your work. But I’m not sure what they would be!

I frequently wear safety glasses and a face mask at the same time. This combination tends to send my breath right up behind my glasses, causing moisture to condensate and fog my vision.

Fortunately, many safety glasses boast an anti-fog coating to alleviate this issue. If my current glasses ever had such a coating, it’s long since worn off. This, then, is one of the main features I’m shopping for.

Tight-fitting goggles can get even more advanced, with dual-pane lenses and direct or indirect air vents to further reduce fogging.

Read more: Keep your tools organized to save time and effort with these tips.

Scratch Resistance

Safety glasses inevitably take a bit of a beating, even if it’s just from riding around in your pocket with other tools and items.

Scratched-up lenses can eventually blur your vision as badly as fog. So, a scratch-resistant design is another key feature I’m looking for.

Do They Fit over Your Eyeglasses?

Some safety goggles are designed with extra clearance between the lenses and your face, allowing you to wear prescription eyeglasses behind the safety goggles.

This feature isn’t as important to me. For some folks, though, it could be a dealbreaker.

UV Protection

Many safety glasses offer UV protection. Since the whole goal is to protect my eyes, I might as well get a pair that guards against the sun, right?

I haven’t made a purchase yet, but I had best hurry up and come to a decision soon. Because even I must admit that pulling off my scratched-up safety glasses every few minutes to wipe away condensation isn’t the most productive way to work!

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