How Technology Is Changing the Safety Eyewear Market

How Technology Is Changing the Safety Eyewear Market

Understanding the variety of eyewear on the market can help you to choose the most beneficial pair for your employees.

When you think of eye safety protection, many think about uncomfortable eyewear that blurs vision, fogs up, falls off your nose and requires constant readjustment. For those who need or choose to wear safety eyewear, technology is helping solve those pain points and advance the safety eyewear industry faster than ever. 

Today’s safety glasses offer a wide range of functions from anti-fog to category-specific lenses designed by people who wear safety eyewear and are committed to the highest comfort and function standards. Whether you are a forklift driver working in a factory with LED lighting, construction operator working outdoors, or behind a computer absorbing blue light from your monitor all day long, there are lenses available for any environment—all with the ability to protect your eyes 

When choosing safety eyewear, it's important to consider both the frame and lenses. The equipment should first and foremost protect from the risks inherent to the task at hand, such as chemical, mechanical, radiation or other hazards. This can be identified through the mandatory markings on any ANSI Z87+ safety eyewear.  

More than the lens itself, however, the industry has a new approach to how it develops safety eyewear. One of the biggest changes is there is a greater emphasis on category-specific features and benefits tailored to varying skilled trades. 

Ideally, the wearer should forget they are wearing safety eyewear at all, when donning a pair of glasses that combine optimum lenses and frames. For example, there are eyewear manufacturers developing technologically advanced frames and lenses that go through much testing, research, and development with the goal of ensuring the best experience for anyone who wears safety glasses—from first responders to office workers trying to reduce their blue light exposure. 

“If glasses don’t fit comfortably, or they impair vision in any way, people just don’t wear them when they are supposed to be wearing them,” said Brian Barry, vice president of sales at Bollé Safety. “How many times have you seen people walking around with their safety glasses perched on top of their head?” 

Safety eyewear is becoming more user-friendly, with industry-specific research and development. Now, those who work in the industrial, tactical and healthcare industries, as well as those who work in cleanrooms, can find eyewear made specifically for them. Within these segments, users will find a range of features specific to their industry with options for prescription glasses, as well. Now, the safety eyewear market is even more versatile. 

For those working outside, anti-fog and anti-scratch technology is one way the industry is making improvements to the safety eyewear market. Improved filtering technology is another area that the eye protection industry is seeing dramatic improvements.  

Manufacturers have been working on advancing visual comfort by optimizing contrast and improving color perception. There are many lens tints available in a wide range of glasses and goggles, which ensures workers have optimal visual coverage to almost all work environments. It enhances the wearer's sight, improves visual comfort, and optimizes contrasts. As a result, wearers’ precision and productivity are maximized while their perception of their environment is sharpened, reducing the risk of accidents. 

Thanks to their ANSI Z87+ compliant glass, these eyepieces optimize vision and guarantee maximum visual acuity, while also shielding the wearer’s eyes while boosting its senses in all UV and light-sensitive situations. UV, glares, LED, welding gas, low contrasts, the hazards are as various as job applications, and each require its specific solution with a light transmission that provides the best trade-off between clarity and visual comfort.  

These lenses work indoors as well as outdoors. For those who work indoors, the lighting is often too dim or too bright, lenses can protect eyes from artificial lighting, which can often be overwhelming. Those who spend their time working outside need guaranteed protection against intense brightness, and UV rays that can guarantee optimal vision even in direct sunlight. For those who are back and forth working in indoor and outdoor situations, safety eyewear offers optimal vision in any situation. 

With so many different lens tints, how do you know which tint is most effective for your work application? There are a wide array of lenses available for either indoor and/or outdoor environments. 

These kinds of lenses are for environments where workers tend to often transition between low and high luminosity workplace. These lightly shaded tinted or copper lenses ensure the smoothest transition and protect the eyes without reducing too much visibility indoors.  

Outdoor lenses represent most of the demand and offer a large variety of tints and technologies. They include the regular smoke lens which was developed to act like a normal sunglass lens. Smoke lenses provide shade for the eyes from the sun’s brightness, while blocking 99.9 percent UV rays. This improves visual comfort and reduces eye strain. The shade can be either dark gray or brown depending on the wearer’s preference for visual comfort. Polarized lenses are a more advanced technology that offers the advantage of smoke lenses while minimizing glares and improving visibility. 

For other indoor use applications, many safety eyewear brands are expecting to see continued interest in glasses that block blue light, which can help reduce eye strain. Blue light can make it difficult to focus on a computer screen, making users’ eyes strain to concentrate. Blue light glasses help increase contrast on the screen, making it easier to focus and subsequently reduce eye strain. 

Studies have indicated that the use of blue light glasses can help people sleep better, reduce eye strain, leave people who work in front of a computer all day with fewer headaches and reduce the risk of eye disease. 

If you're required, or even prefer, to wear safety glasses and haven’t taken a look at how the industry has evolved over the past few years, take another look. You may be surprised at just how helpful, comfortable, and functional your safety eyewear can be. 

This article originally appeared in the June 2022 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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