Safety Glasses Selection Guide

Whether you call them safety glasses or safety spectacles, the right pair can not only keep your eyes protected, but enhance your vision and clarity. Don't know what pair are right for you? We've decoded the options to help you make a better choice! Want more information on what safety glasses are best for you and your team? Contact your local ATOM Safety representative.

Structure Safety glasses come in countless shapes, sizes and models. Some common variations are listed below. Make sure that you select a style that is comfortable for you. The more comfortable they are, the more likely it is you'll keep them on!

Lens Tint Your ideal lens tint is determined by your working environment. We've broken down the most common lens tint types to let you know which is best for you.

Clear/Translucent Lens For indoor, low glare work. A clear lens provides true colour recognition making it an ideal choice for general purpose work.

Grey/Smoke Lens For outdoor work where there is direct exposure to sunlight. A grey/smoke lens protects against natural glare and assist in colour recognition.

Amber Lens Can used used in both indoor and outdoor applications. The amber lens enhances light and improves contrast making them an ideal choice for low lint environments. Many people like to wear and amber tint at dawn or dusk.

Mirror Lens For outdoor work. The mirror lens protect the eyes against natural and artificial glare whilst dissipating heat.

Brown Lens A medium tint for outdoor work. The brown lens provide the benefits of a darker, glare protective tint whist improving contrast and colour recognition.

Transitional Lens A transitional lens colour varies, usually between smoke and clear, dependent on the light conditions the wearer is in, making them an ideal choice for people who move in between in and outdoor work. Lens transition times can vary.

Polarised Lens For outdoor, high glare working environments. A polarised lens significantly reduces glare.

Read more on Polarised Glasses.

What is VLT? VLT, or visible light transmission, is the percentage of visible light transmitted through a lens. A clear lens will typically allow 80% – 100% VLT through where as a grey or smoke lens will allow only 8% - 18%.

VLT is measured in categories, the higher the category the less visible light will enter the eye during wear.

Category 0: VLT 80% - 100% (Clear Lens)

Category 1: VLT 43% - 80% (Mirror Lens)

Category 2: VLT 18% - 43% (Brown Lens)

Category 3: VLT 8% - 18% (Grey/Smoke and Polarised Lens)

This category will be marked on the lens of rated safety glasses.

Lens Coating After selecting your lens tint, the lens coating is up next. Lens coatings increase the durability of safety glasses and provide versatility depending on the task at hand and the working environment. The most common coatings found in the market are anti-scratch and anti-fog which are available in various combinations. These are the most common options:

• Anti-scratch on the inside and outside of the lens

• Anti-fog on the inside and outside of the lens

• Anti-scratch on the outside of the lens and anti-fog on the inside of the lens

Anti-scratch coatings are suitable for dusty and dirty working environments. Small particles can have an abrasive effect on an uncoated lens, decreasing its clarity and longevity.

Anti-fog coatings are suitable for working in varying temperatures and/or areas of high humidity. It is important to address any fogging issues your workers may experience to avoid reduced visibility or the removal of safety glasses whilst working.

Lens Materials There are two primary lens materials – polycarbonate and acetate.

Polycarbonate is rated to medium and high impact under AS/NZS 1337.1.2010. It is much stronger than most other plastics, and delivers excellent heat resistance. Polycarbonate is also lightweight and provides good optical clarity.

Acetate is rated to medium impact under AS/NZS 1337.1.2010. It is very light and flexible and provides good optical clarity due to its scratch resistance. Often acetate lenses are charged at a more premium cost.

If you are concerned about the useful life of a lens, some styles of safety glasses and goggles have a lens replacement option. Caring correctly for your lens by only using mircofibre cloths and specified lens cleaning products will also increase the useful life of your lens.

Impact Rating Impact rating is determined by how well the eye protection withstands the impact of a weighted ball at an allotted speed. To pass, on impact the eye protection must not crack, dislodge, detach, break or come into contact with the eye or face. The below table specifies the requirements for each rating and what symbol to look for.

The maximum rating safety glasses can achieve is medium impact. To achieve a high impact rating the entire face must be protected with a full face visor. ATOMise recommend a high impact full face shield for any task that involves power tools that produce debris eg. cutting and grinding etc.

Read more on When to Wear Eye and Face Protection.

When selecting safety glasses keep an eye out for the markings on the lens and the side arms for information on the rating and standards that apply to that particular product.

Prefer Safety Goggles? Read more here.

Prescription Safety Glasses Wondering if you can wear your prescription glasses instead of safety glasses? The answer is, no. Prescription glasses to do not offer the impact protection required to protect you from potential impact injury. In fact, during an impact wearing your prescription glasses may lead to further injury.

Refrain from wearing contact lenses underneath regular safety glasses. In the event of injury, the presence of a contact lens can cause further damage to eye.

Instead wear a pair of overglasses, designed to fit over regular prescription glasses and provide medium impact protection. Alternatively, ATOMise can source you safety glasses to match your prescription, allowing safe and clear vision.

Want to know more about safety glasses? Contact your local ATOM Safety representative!

How to Clean Safety Glasses

Keep safety glasses sanitised, scratch free and prolong their life by cleaning them properly and regularly. Glasses cleaned haphazardly tend to scratch, reducing visibility and therefore reducing usable life. Keep your glasses scratch free by following these cleaning instructions.

  1. Gently blow any loose dirt or debris from your lenses

  2. Rinse your lenses under a water tap or use a safety glasses cleaning spray. We recommend Riley Lens Cleaning Spray

  3. Wipe your lenses, frame and arms dry with a microfibre cloth to remove streaks and cleaning solution residue

  4. Alternatively, use a lens cleaning towelette to clean both sides of the lens gently. We recommend PPE Select Lens Cleaning Wipes


Only use microfibre cloths to clean the lens. Other fabrics may feel soft to the touch, but can be infused with abrasive fibres which may cause scratches. Scratches can have a significant reduction on how effective the lenses will be in the event on an impact and reduce visibility.

Soaps and window cleaners can remove your lenses antifog or anti-scratch coating. This decreases your glasses overall useful life. Always use specialised lens cleaners to maintain their performance.

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ATOM acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands in which we operate in Australia. We recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and community. We pay our respects to them, their cultures; and to elders both past, present and emerging.