Chemistry lab eye protection 

Keywords:  lab eye protection 

Why is protective eyewear important?

We rely on our eyes for virtually everything, which we may take for granted until an accident happens. Protective eyewear protects us against physical, chemical, biohazardous, electrical and/or heat hazards that may cause

(i) corneal abrasions to the eye’s surface, making the eyes more susceptible to bacterial or fungal infection

(ii) burning/stinging/redness

(iii) eye swelling and bruising from being struck by large moving objects

(iv) traumatic iritis

(v) blindness in extreme cases, etc.

Harmful substances to the eye include:

Projectiles: dust, concrete, metal, sand, large flying objects, etc.

Chemicals: splash or fumes (eye irritants and corrosives)

Radiation: visible light, UV, heat/IR radiation, and lasers

Bloodborne pathogens: blood and other bodily fluids

Use of protective lab eye protection can minimize or prevent up to 90% of eye injuries according to the (American) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). In 2013, an average of 2000 daily workplace eye injuries required medical treatment, many of which were either due to lack of eye protection or the use of inadequate protection.1

Every application calls for appropriate protective lab eye protection  

Your working environment is the main factor that determines the type of eye protection you should use. Prior to selection, optimize your surroundings to minimize risks: ensure adequate ventilation is in place or install splash guards on fume hoods if not already present. After any changes have been made, lab eye protection and other personal protective equipment (PPE) can be chosen based on the risks and hazards of your specific circumstances.

Anatomy of goggles

There are three vital components to every type of eye protection:

Lens are thin sheets of material (e.g. Hi-Vex, polycarbonate, Trivex, glass or plastic depending on its intended use) that protect the eyes while allowing clear sight. 

Frames hold the lens in place and may be made of metal or plastic. They are often heat-resistant and stronger than the frames of prescription glasses.

Certification markings can be found on all types of eye protection, certifying that it has passed relevant safety inspections.

Four major types of eye protection

Selection should be based on the most recent edition of the American National Standard Institute/International Safety Equipment Association (ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2020), your work environment and the specific hazards related to your work.  Note however that the ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2020 does not cover exposure to bloodborne pathogens, X-rays, high-energy particulate radiation, microwaves, radio-frequency radiation, lasers, masers, and sports and recreation, etc. 

Safety glasses have a metal or plastic frame that can be worn over prescription glasses. Many have side shields that wrap around the sides to offer protection from different angles.

These goggles are made of flexible plastic that enclose the entire eye area. An adjustable strap holds them in place, much like swimming goggles. They may either have direct or indirect ventilation to prevent fogging, but the former does not protect against fine dust or chemical splashes.

These glasses protect against alternate light sources, lasers, and radiation. Selection is based on the wavelength and power that is being used in the application.2

  • Visors and face shields         

Visors and face shields have a single large lens mounted to an adjustable head harness or helmet, meant to protect the face and neck. Depending on the specific hazard, the lens can be made of different materials of varying thickness. They are meant to be used in combination with goggles or safety glasses.

How to select appropriate lab eye protection

  • Use safety glasses with side shields or a face shield if your work environment has particles, dust or flying objects.
  • Use googles for work involving chemicals.
  • Use face shields with goggles or glasses if your work involves explosion hazards, or there is risk of chemical splashes.
  • Use laser safety glasses when working with lasers or radiation.

After selection, check that your eye protection is:

  • Light-weight, adjustable, and comfortable yet fitted.
  • Compatible with eye prescriptions.
  • Not obstructing your field of view, allowing you to see clearly.
  • Compliant with your workplace and local government regulations.
  • Free of scratches, dents, and contaminant free.

To aid in your selection, refer to J&K Scientific’s summary below, based on the type of activity you will be doing:


General safety glasses/spectacles

Chemical Splash goggles

Laser Safety glasses

Face Shield

Chemical handling (non-hazardous)









Chemical handling (hazardous or splash risk)







extreme exposure

Medical/clinical setting activities








Waste handling








Grinding/sawing/ power tools








extreme exposure

Laser operations






Working with heat








Use a welding shield in extreme cases

For more information, refer to the ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2020 Eye and Face Protector Selection Guide.

Cleaning your lens

You should clean your lens regularly with cleaning solutions or cloths that are compatible with your lens materials. Cleaning them regularly prevents scratches and premature deterioration of anti-fog or other coatings.

If you are working in an area with contamination or infection risks, your eyewear will also need to be disinfected with an approved cleaning solution. Use gloves while cleaning and any other protection necessary to minimize the risk of exposure.3 

In case of emergency

Chemicals in the eye: Use the eye wash station to flush the eyes for at least 15 minutes. Have a colleague contact emergency services and do not attempt to neutralize the chemical or bandage your eye.

Debris: Do not rub your eyes. Allow tears to wash your eyes and lift your eyes outward (if possible) to remove particulate matter. If this is unsuccessful, keep your eyes closed and seek medical attention.

Blows to the eye: Gently apply a cold compress to reduce pain and swelling. If your vision reduces or severe pain occurs, seek immediate medical attention.

Cuts or punctures to the eye and eyelid: Do not wash your eyes or attempt to remove the object. Cover your eye with a rigid shield, such as a plastic cup to prevent the foreign material from moving. Seek immediate medical attention.



  1. Eye Safety | NIOSH | CDC
  3. Ultimate Safety Glasses and Eye Protection Guide | Safety Gear Pro
By shuhan yang


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