Hesperian Health Guides

Hesperian Health Guides

Eye protection

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HealthWiki > Workers' Guide to Health and Safety > Chapter 18: Personal protective equipment (PPE) > Eye protection


Your eyes can be quickly and permanently damaged by chemicals, dust, bright lights, or sharp objects. Safety glasses, goggles, and face shields provide some protection. If a chemical or dust gets in your eye, immediately rinse it with running water for at least 15 minutes. See First aid when a chemical touches your skin or eyes.

If you work in an area that uses UV lights or radiation, use safety glasses, goggles, or face shields that filter out UV rays.

Do not wear contact lenses if you might be splashed with a chemical, if chemical vapors are common where you work, or if you do not have safety glasses. Contact lenses can keep a chemical on your eye longer and the material they are made of may react to some chemicals. Always wear eye protection if you use contact lenses, even when working in areas where there are no chemicals.

safety glasses, with parts labeled.
top shield
impact-resistant,
anti-fog lenses
side shields

Safety glasses: Safety glasses provide some protection from splashes and some objects. Regular glasses that you use to see better will not protect your eyes like safety glasses do. Safety glasses with side shields are best.

goggles, with parts labeled.
small vents release heat
strap holds goggles in place
soft plastic creates a seal

Goggles: Wear chemical-resistant, vented goggles if you work with acids, alkalis, and other chemicals that can quickly burn, or in areas where chemicals are sprayed. Goggles provide more protection than safety glasses because they make a more complete barrier around your eyes.

Face shields: A clear face shield can protect your mouth, eyes, and face from many splashes. This type of shield is easy to take on and off, and is easy to clean. Even though it covers your mouth, a face shield does not stop chemical vapors from going into your nose and mouth. If there are chemical vapors, wear a mask or respirator.

Wear chemical goggles or safety glasses underneath a face shield. You really need both.

When you use eye protection:

  • Check that it is not broken, cracked, or scratched.
  • Make sure it fits snugly, comfortably, and won’t fall off as you work.
  • Get a new pair if yours are so scratched or dirty you cannot see well through them.
  • Safety glasses or goggles must fit over your vision glasses comfortably, or you can get special prescription safety glasses.
  • Disinfect shared eye wear after each use.
  • If you are working with corrosive chemicals such as acids, make sure your eye protection resists those chemicals.


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