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SAFETY : Some Foresight Can Save Your Eyes

February 17, 1996|From Associated Press

Your eyesight can be extremely vulnerable when you're working on home repair, workshop or other do-it-yourself projects.

Chips of metal may fly from a badly hit nailhead or from a screw head when a power bit slips. And saws, routers and other power tools can throw sawdust and wood chips with great force and speed. But the vast majority of all eye injuries can be avoided with proper safety practices and protective eye wear.

There are basically three kinds of vision-protecting devices: goggles, glasses and face shields. All must provide a physical barrier without impeding your vision. And the barrier material must not be a potential hazard in itself.

Protective lenses may be made of safety glass, polycarbonate resin or other plastics. By far the most impact-resistant lens material is polycarbonate. It's not unbreakable, but it's considered to be many times stronger than either glass or other plastics. Most off-the-shelf safety glasses and goggles sold these days are polycarbonate.

Acceptable protective lenses will be stamped by the manufacturer to indicate that they have passed safety tests. The frames will bear a "Z 87.1" stamp to indicate they also have passed quality tests.

All three types of protective devices are available clear or shaded. Tinted or shaded eye wear is good for working outdoors. If you do welding, always wear eye protection that is specially shaded to guard against the extreme brightness and infrared rays produced by the torch.

Whichever type of protective eye wear you choose, buy a product that's right for the job and comfortable. If it's uncomfortable, chances are you won't wear it.

Here is information about protective measures:


If you're going to buy only one kind of protective eye wear, get goggles; they'll protect you in most situations. Goggles are close-fitting devices that provide protection not only in the front but also at the sides, top and bottom.

They cost $5 to $15 and are available in most hardware stores. They are usually secured with a headband. Those with direct vents allow good air circulation, minimize internal fogging and are adequate for sawing and hammering. Those with indirect vents offer added protection from fine particles and splashes. Many are large enough to be worn over prescription glasses.


Ordinary eyeglasses don't offer adequate protection for most work. They're open at the top, bottom and sides, and their lenses are not made of safety glass or plastic. They can cause a serious injury if a lens breaks and shards fly into the eye.

Safety glasses, as little as $3 and available at most hardware stores, are the most compact form of protective eye wear.

Get ones with side shields to block particles from entering. Some also have shields across the top. A basic pair of safety glasses offers adequate protection when hammering or using hand tools and slow-moving electric tools. If you wear glasses all the time, consider prescription safety glasses, available from most eye wear stores.

Face Shields

Face shields offer full-face protection and are ideal for blocking thrown chips and shavings. They have a brow band and one or two bands that pass over the top or around the back of the head. Full-face shields with a headband start about $10 and are carried at most hardware stores.

Face shields don't offer good protection against heavy impact or objects that fly up or around their edges. For that reason, always wear safety glasses or goggles as well.

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