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What are Safety Goggles?

By Norma Jean Howland
Updated May 17, 2024
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Safety goggles are a type of protective eyewear that usually enclose the eye area, preventing water, chemicals, or particles from getting into the eyes. These goggles are often worn by professionals who do physical labor in sawmills, welding shops or factories. Protective eyewear is also worn during sports, such as competitive swimming, to help keep chlorine from irritating the eyes; soccer goggles protect athletes from stray balls; and snow sport goggles help prevent snow-related injuries. Those who do chemical research also use goggles to protect their eyes in the lab, and people who work with power tools, such as chain saws, use goggles to prevent eye injuries from flying debris. These goggles are also available in prescription strength for those who need eyeglasses.

In manual labor, safety goggles are routinely worn to protect the eyes, especially in such professions as welding, wherein fiery sparks fly up from the piece being soldered. For loggers, goggles are often necessary due to the fact that almost any type of woodwork may cause fragments to fly up and get into the eyes. Factory workers also are often required to wear safety goggles, depending on the material being manufactured, to protect the eyes from burns, dust or any other type of irritation.

For laboratory workers and students working with chemicals, safety goggles are usually required since chemical reactions are often unpredictable and explosions do occur. In a laboratory, fumes may also irritate eyes, which is another reason special protective eyewear is worn. In this kind of situation in which good eyesight may mean the difference between a successful experiment and a disaster, prescription strength safety goggles are often used, replacing regular eyeglasses.

Athletes also use safety goggles to protect the eyes from game injuries from balls, bats or hockey pucks. In underwater sports, goggles also prevent eye irritation by keeping water out of them, which cuts down on eye redness due to salt water or heavily chlorinated pool water. Goggles are also worn for winter sports, to protect the eyes from windburn, snow and ice particles.

Safety goggles can be worn for almost any activity that may put the eyes at risk, including lawn mowing, weed-whacking or chopping wood, as these chores can cause particles to be thrown about, which may be dangerous to the eyes. For those who use chainsaws, goggles are usually recommended as a way to protect eyes from splinters that may find their way into the eye area. Even such everyday chores as pruning trees or bushes may cause particulates or dust to irritate delicate eye tissue, so wearing goggles may be a good idea.

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Discussion Comments

By ysmina — On Aug 14, 2014

There are different types of safety goggles out there. The type I like the most is the one that goes all around and does not allow air or anything to enter. That's great for work that involves any kind of fume. It's also great for work with debris. It's unbelievable how debris can manage to get near the eye, even with a safety goggle on. Some safety goggles are completely open on the sides and I don't think those provide a lot of protection.

The downside with the goggles that are closed everywhere is that they are usually made of plastic and they can be uncomfortable with extended use. Also, I don't think it's possible to get these prescription strength. So those who need prescription strength safety goggles will have to select one of the other styles.

By burcinc — On Aug 13, 2014

I find it that it's impossible to swim without swimming goggles. Within just thirty seconds, my eyes start to hurt and burn. In the pool, it's the chlorine and in the ocean, it's the salt. I swim regularly and I haven't gone swimming without goggles since the past five years. It makes a huge difference.

By turquoise — On Aug 12, 2014

Even those working with tools at home for a hobby should wear safety goggles. My brother likes fixing cars as a hobby and the other day he was under he car fixing something as usual. Somehow, he got a small metal particle in his eye while working. We had to take him to the hospital because we were afraid of a cornea tear or scratch. Thankfully, there wasn't damage to his cornea but he had to use antibiotic eye cream for five days to prevent infection and reduce irritation. If he had safety goggles on, this wouldn't have happened. I bought him a nice pair and told him that he can only work on the car if he has the goggles on.

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