Through My Lens:

Eye Safety, First
The other day, a neighbor came over with his chain saw to help me remove a tree that had fallen in my yard after a recent storm. I noticed he was wearing a pair of leather-work gloves, but no protective eyewear, only his everyday glasses.

When I questioned him about this, he responded that his glasses had “plastic” lenses, which he was sure would protect his eyes adequately.

A quick look at his glasses revealed that they would not provide much protection if he were hit by flying wood chips or a tree branch. Neither the lenses nor frames could be considered “safety” eyewear by any standard.

My neighbor was unaware of the differences between “streetwear” and true safety glasses. But eyecare professionals are expected to know about safety eyewear and recommend appropriate lenses and frames for their patients.

In case you’re not up on the latest standards for safety eyewear, now is a good time to brush up. The new ANSI Z87.1-2003 standard for safety eyewear took effect August 19, and it’s important that labs, dispensers and lens and frame manufacturer become familiar with it. The new standard denotes basic-impact and high-impact categories that meet high-velocity testing for safety lenses, with a lens marking of “+” on high-impact-approved lenses. A warning label is required with basic-impact lenses. Safety frames must meet high-velocity and high-mass impact-resistance tests and will be marked with “Z87-2.”

Under the new Z87.1 standard, there are two classifications for lenses, basic impact and high impact. “Basic impact standards will be the same as the old standard, while high impact has different criteria, namely a more stringent ballistic test,” says Dan Torgersen, technical director of the Optical Laboratories Association. “The other component is that lens markings and frame markings will be different.”

According to Torgersen, polycarbonate and Trivex lenses (marketed as Phoenix by Hoya and Trilogy by Younger) are the only lens materials currently on the market that will qualify for the minimum 2.0mm thickness high-impact designation.

Additionally, “ECPs and anyone with a current inventory of Z87-marked frames should contact their safety frame vendors to ask them to supply a list of Z87 frames that pass or do not pass the new Z-87.2,” Torgersen advises.

The new standard can be ordered from the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) online at,, by phone at (847) 699-2929 or by fax at (847) 768-3424.

—Andrew Karp
Group Editor, Lenses and Technology