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Eye protection is protective gear for the eyes, and sometimes face, designed to reduce the risk of injury. Examples of risks requiring eye protection can include: impact from particles or debris, light or radiation, wind blast, heat, sea spray or impact from some type of ball or puck used in sports.
Eye protection are typically separated into categories based on the style of eye wear and the hazard they are designed to reduce. There categories include: Spectacles with side protection; Goggles; Welding helmet; Welding Hand Shields; Non-Rigid Helmets (hoods); Face shield; and Respirator Face pieces.
Safety glasses or spectacles, although often used as a catch-all term for all types of eye protection, specifically revers to protective equipment that closely resembles common eye wear. To meet most national standards, spectacles must include side shields to reduce the ability of debris to get behind the lenses from the side. Safety glasses can often mount insert frames to mount prescription corrective lenses for users with suboptimal vision. Such insert frames are mounted behind the protective lens. In some applications, regular eye wear, if manufactured from high-impact materials, can be worn with removable side shields. Oversized spectacles are also manufactured, designed to sit over the users normal eye wear.
Goggles are forms of protective eyewear that enclose the eye area in order to prevent particulates, infectious fluids, or chemicals from striking the eyes. Goggles come in two styles, eyecup goggles, and cover goggles. Eyecup goggles completely cover the eye socket to give all-round protection. They have adjustable or elasticized headbands and often are equipped with ventilation ports to allow air in and prevent fogging. For example, swimming goggles to protect the eyes from salt or chlorine. Cover goggles are designed to be worn over eye wear. Like eyecup goggles, they have adjustable or elasticized headbands and are equipped with direct or indirect ventilation ports to allow air in and prevent fogging. While both models keep out large particles, indirect-vented goggles are better at keeping out liquids and dusts.
Welding helmets & Shields
A welding helmet is a type of headgear used when performing certain types of welding to protect the eyes, face and neck from flash burn, ultraviolet light, sparks, infrared light, and heat. A welding hand shield is a metal plate containing the same protective lens as a welding helmet with a handle on the bottom, intended to be held up in front of the face while working.
Hoods (or non-rigid helmets) come with impact-resistant windows usually made of plastic or similar material. An air-supply system may also be incorporated. Hoods are made of non-rigid material for use in confined spaces and of collapsible construction for convenience in carrying and storing
A face shield is a device used to protect wearer's entire face (or part of it) from hazards such as impact, splash, heat, or glare. With face shields, as with welding helmets and hand shields, the user is continually lifting and lowering the visor. To protect the eyes when the visor is lifted, spectacles should be worn underneath.
Respirator face pieces
A respirator is a device designed to protect the wearer from inhaling particulate matter, including airborne microorganisms, fumes, vapours and gases.
Flying particles, dust, and wind
Heat, sparks, and splash from molten materials
Acid splash; chemical burns
Abrasive blasting materials
Glare or stray light
The human eye is sensitive to intense light because it damages the retina and can even blind the individual. There are many different types of eye protection against light suited for different applications. The most common forms of eye protection against light are sunglasses. These primarily protect against UV light from the sun and help increase visibility in bright conditions. They often tend to be fashionable as well as practical.
Injurious optical radiation (Moderate)
Laser protection eyewear will filter out a particular (or small range of) wavelength(s), customized to the laser being viewed. Laser protection eye wear is particularly important because of the extremely high intensity of laser light.
Injurious optical radiation (Severe)
Welding glass protects against glare and flying sparks. It is a more extreme implementation of the same idea as sunglasses, suited to the more intense light generated during welding. Arc welding goggles must be much darker than blowtorch goggles. Shades 12, 13, and 14 welding glass must be used to stare directly at the sun or a solar eclipse. These higher index shades are suitable for arc welding and therefore are suitable for solar viewing. Sunglasses will not provide sufficient protection.
- Eye protectors used in sports like orienteering and cycling to protect eyes from insects, dust and wind blast.
- Infection control glasses
- Eye shields used in External beam radiotherapy to shield sensitive parts of the eye from ionizing radiation
Helmets and visors
- Armor visors were used in conjunction with some Medieval war helmets to protect the eyes from impact.
- Batting helmet with full face coverage is used by the catcher in baseball and softball games to protect the eyes and face from impact.
- Eyeshield is a piece of football equipment which attaches to a player's helmet to protect the eyes from impact.
- Fighter pilot helmet includes a visor for protection from the sun and from wind blast in case of an ejection from the aircraft.
- Some firefighter's helmets have visors which protect the eyes from infrared rays and the radiant heat of fire as well as from impact.
- Hockey helmets have visors, shields, cages and masks to protect the eyes and face from impact.
- Hurling helmets protect the eyes from the ball and from near contact with other players.
- Lacrosse helmets used in men's lacrosse have a cage to protect the face and eyes from impact.
- Lifeboatman's helmet has a transparent visor to keep sea spray out of the eyes.
- Motorcycle helmets and Bicycle helmets have face shields that protects the eyes against wind blast, dust, insects and impact in the event of a crash.
- Racing helmets also have face shields (narrower than motorcycle helmets) to protect against fire and impact.
- Riot protection helmets have visors to protect the eyes and face from projectiles and impact.
- Safety helmets, also called hard hats, used by chainsaw operators and construction workers often have visors to protect the eyes from impact.
- Space suit helmets have gold-impregnated face shields to protect astronauts from the direct rays of the sun.
U.S. Military Combat Eye Protection (MCEP) glasses with an inserted optional prescription lens carrier.
Anna Millward wearing a cycling helmet and eye protectors