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What Are Safety Glasses Made Of? Is There An Ideal Material?

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red colored safety glasses

What makes safety glasses so special, and how do they work to protect your eyes? Much of it comes down to the material that the manufacturer makes the glasses from. While polycarbonate is the most common, it’s not the only one out there. 

So, what are your options, and what are the advantages of polycarbonate safety glasses? We break it all down and dive into everything that you need to know here.

glasses divider 2

What Are Safety Glasses Made Of?

While manufacturers can make safety glasses out of a wide array of materials, the most common choice for lenses is polycarbonate. It is a lightweight yet strong film that provides the best possible impact resistance. Since polycarbonate is shatterproof, you get maximum protection for your eyes without any additional risks.

Furthermore, manufacturers can make both prescription and non-prescription glasses out of polycarbonate. This way, you don’t have to wear safety glasses over your regular glasses!

safety glasses in white background
Image Credit: nickfrom, Pixabay

Can Safety Glasses Be Plastic?

Yes, safety glasses can be plastic but not just any plastic. Safety glasses have to be shatter resistant, and they have to meet ANSI standards. This goes for both the frame and the lens.

While plastic isn’t the top choice for safety glasses, it is one of the more affordable options and makes safety glasses durable enough for most applications.

Do They Make Glass Safety Glasses?

Safety glasses can have glass lenses but they need to have ANSI approval. Furthermore, you should not wear glass safety glasses in a situation where you need impact resistance.

While glass might be shatter resistant, it’s not shatterproof. The last thing that you want is your safety glasses shattering on you while you’re wearing them!

What Is a Trivex Eyeglass Lens?

While polycarbonate might be the industry standard for safety glasses, another outstanding choice to consider if you have prescription glasses and must wear your safety glasses often is Trivex. It is a lightweight and durable lens that gives superior optical clarity compared to polycarbonate.

This extra optical clarity without sacrificing any protection makes Trivex a favorite among tactical military operators.

The downside is the cost. Trivex is more expensive than polycarbonate, it’s not as easy to find, and insurance often doesn’t cover it.

It’s worth considering, but if you are unwilling or unable to drop a couple hundred dollars on a set of prescription safety glasses, you should probably stick with polycarbonate.

Man with safety glasses
Image Credit: voltamax, Pixabay

What Are Glasses Made Of?

While glass might be in the name, most manufacturers don’t make glasses from glass. Instead, they almost always go with plastic.

While glass is effective, if it shatters, it can cost you your vision. Plastic blends and compounds provide the same quality vision, but you don’t have to worry about them shattering and injuring your eyes.

Just as polycarbonate and Trivex are common choices for safety glasses, they’re common in traditional glasses too. Other options for traditional glasses include different high-index plastics. These are especially common if you have a strong prescription that requires thick lenses.

High-index plastics enable the manufacturer to use a thin lens and still have the prescription that you need!

Final Thoughts

Safety glasses do a phenomenal job of protecting your eyes and your vision. It all comes down to the materials that manufacturers use to make them and the strict standards that ANSI holds them to.

So, while polycarbonate is the runaway favorite as far as materials go, if you find another pair of safety glasses with a different construction material but the correct certifications, they should be good too!

Featured Image Credit: wilson montoya, Unsplash

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.