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These days, it’s not just construction, welding, or lab workers who need eye protection – frontline healthcare and hospital workers who didn’t used to need safety eyewear are now required to protect themselves too. While OSHA requires employers to provide or cover the cost of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), it doesn’t require employers to cover prescription safety eyewear.
This means that if you currently wear Rx glasses, you’re faced with either finding yourself a decent pair of over-glasses safety gear or paying out of pocket for prescription safety glasses. The good news is any Rx eyewear – including safety glasses – is eligible for FSA/HSA reimbursement, or in some cases even covered by insurance.
So without further ado, here are OGR’s picks for the best prescription safety glasses that meet ANSI-standards and above.
With foam eyecups and plastic side shields, the ArmouRx 6006 is one of the more affordable but decent Rx safety eyeglasses available. It also comes with a strap for extra security and no-worry protection. It comes in black, blue, or gray, and all lenses are made to ANSI-Standard specifications.
A great pick for lab or hospital workers, this comfortable pair of safety glasses from OnGuard provides full eye protection you can wear all day. It comes in 2 sizes and several colors too, so you don’t have to look like a sterile lab worker even if you work in one. Integrated side shields enclose the eye sockets and it’s ANSI Z87.1 and CSA Z94.3-approved.
Sturdy, impact-resistant polycarbonate lenses come standard with the frame. You can also choose Trivex lenses or 1.67-1.74 high-index lenses that are thinner and lighter. Rx options include single vision (either standard or digital), lined bifocals, or progressives.
Prescription Safety Glasses RX-15011
For safety glasses that still give you that hipster vibe, the RX-15011 from Rx-Safety fits the bill perfectly. With permanent side shields, this ANSI Z87-certified frame has a fully adjustable nose piece to ensure a snug, comfortable and secure fit.
Customize your lenses with single, bifocal, or progressive correction, plus any extras like anti-fog, anti-scratch, or even custom tints. This is also an ideal pair for those with strong prescriptions since there’s less curvature without the wraparound lens.
Oakley Industrial Det Cord
For the ultimate in safety sunglasses and style, the Oakley Industrial Det Cord is always a sure bet. Now, Oakley normally does their own impact-testing on all their sunglasses, but not all of them are ANSI-certified. The Det Cord is ANSI-rated and stamped (even with Rx lenses), so it will fulfill any work safety requirements.
It’s a one-size fits most, though it generally fits larger heads well. And when you’re out all day in the sun, you don’t need to worry about them sliding down your nose with the Unobtanium® nose pads that get tackier with moisture or sweat.
Wiley X Valor
For full ballistic or tactical eyewear protection, the Wiley X Valor is the gold standard bar none. It features shatterproof lenses that meet or exceed ANSI Z87.1-2010 high velocity impact standards for civilian use, MIL-PRF-32432 Military Combat Eye Protection Standard (MCEPS), and US Federal OSHA 1910.133(b)(1)(1) standards.
Phillips Rx-456 Wraparound Safety Glasses
Love the cool Oakley style but not the price tag? The Phillips Rx-456 looks designer with it’s freeform, semi-rimless lenses mounted into the frame. Rubberized nose pads and arms ensure a non-slip, comfortable fit. Lightweight and streamlined, it comes in either medium or large sizes, as well as black/silver or navy/silver (pictured).
These can even double as motorcycle glasses, so you can use them on your days off too. Rx-customizable and ANSI-approved.
The Titmus (now UVEX) SW 06E-SWRx is an extremely popular pair of safety glasses that fits comfortably and looks great on men or women. Available in black/orange, brown/yellow, or rose/pink, set yourself apart from your colleagues with a sporty, cool style.
There are extended side shields around the temples for complete protection from splashes, dirt, debris, you name it. Plus, its non-metal construction makes it safe for electrical or magnetic work environments too.
Foam padding at the browline helps seal off the top so nothing gets in. It’s ANSI-certified and OSHA-approved, and is one of the better picks if you need progressive lenses, which not all safety eyewear accommodates.
Z87.1 Safety Glasses 749930
Healthcare and frontline workers: if you don’t want to wear contacts all day or cheap safety glasses over your Rx eyeglasses, this one’s for you. This ANSI Z87.1 pair has wraparound lenses so your peripheral vision stays intact, and it’s comfortable enough to wear your entire shift. The cushioning at the browline sits on your forehead for top enclosure and there’s a flexible nose bridge for additional comfort. It doesn’t even fog up when wearing an N95 or surgical mask either.
IR Protection Safety Glasses IR-17004-BK
For welding and cutting, the IR-17004 has flip-up filter lenses with IR 2-8 shade protection against high intensity light and radiation. OSHA has guidelines for the appropriate shade number for various welding jobs if you’re not sure what number you need. The clear, impact-resistant polycarbonate lenses are fully customizable to your Rx including bifocal prescriptions. You can also add anti-scratch and anti-fog coatings if needed too.
Prescription Safety Glasses RX-850
If you just want one pair of glasses that will serve you both on and off the job, the RX-850 is a lightweight, ANSI Z87-2+ metal frame that comes with removable side shields. It’s got a sturdy build made of flex nickel and nylon, plus comes with spring hinges for an easy, comfortable fit.
The classic gunmetal gray flatters most faces, plus it comes in a couple sizes (49-18-140 and 52-18-140). You can also get replacement side shields that are easy to change out if needed.
SPY Quanta 2
Taking safety glasses to the next level, the Spy Quanta 2 ANSI Safety Frames look more Oakleys than laboratory. You would expect these on somebody rolling down the street on a skateboard rather than carving some wood. But, safety style has moved into the next stage of fashion.
These aggressive SPY Quanta sunglasses are ANSI Z87.1 certified, meaning they are everything-proof. The Quanta sunglasses are more than just a stylish frame. They combines a secure fit with sophisticated aggressive lines to make for one very attractive set of sunglasses. They are built with indestructible Grilamid for comfort and durability.
How to Pick the Right Prescription Safety Glasses
First, you need to choose what type of eyewear is best for your situation: this can be goggles for chemicals, specialized eyewear for welding, or wraparound glasses for those who may come in contact with dust or flying objects.
If bulky goggles or an oversize frame isn’t necessary, you can also opt for a more standard-looking pair of glasses with removable side shields. The nice thing about this type is that it looks just like an everyday pair of glasses when you’re not wearing side shields for protection.
Most safety glasses are made out of a strong, impact-resistant plastic or nylon. You can also find a few metal frames available too (these usually come with removable side shields.)
Regardless of which material you choose, make sure to look for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) certification “Z87” mark on the frame. This appears on the inside of one of the arms if it is ANSI-rated.
In terms of lenses, polycarbonate is standard for most safety glasses since it’s lighter, more impact-resistant and shatterproof than glass or plastic. UV-blocking is also inherent in polycarbonate, so it helps protect your eyes from harmful UV rays at the same time.
Trivex, which is very similar to polycarbonate, is another good option. It’s got the same qualities in terms of impact-resistance and UV-blocking capabilities, but has even more superior optical clarity.
Fit and Comfort
Getting the proper fit is paramount in all safety gear, especially so for safety eyewear. If your pair of safety glasses isn’t a snug fit to your face there may be a small gap which could allow pieces of debris to enter.
Likewise, if you’re wearing prescription safety glasses for an 8-,10-, or 12-hour shift, you definitely need something comfortable and durable. Details like adjustable nose pads, foam padding, and the right size are key.
Remember that 100 workers a day will get an eye injury which in some cases will mean they never return to work. So, give your eyes the importance they demand and choose wisely.
Is My Employer Required to Pay for My Rx Safety Glasses?
Generally speaking, no. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to provide appropriate non-Rx safety eyewear to their employees. You may be able to get your employer to cover Rx safety glasses if you only use your glasses at work and don’t take them home.
Are Prescription Safety Glasses Covered By Insurance?
Some vision insurance plans cover Rx safety glasses while others exclude them. Check with your policy provider to be sure. Prescription safety glasses and sunglasses are eligible for reimbursement under Flexible and Health Savings Accounts (FSA/HSA), so you can at least use pre-tax dollars to purchase if not.
How Much Do Prescription Safety Glasses Cost?
You can expect to pay anywhere from $70-$80 for a basic pair of single-vision safety glasses to upwards of $250-$300 if you purchase a premium frame. The standard lens type included in prescription safety glasses are polycarbonate 1.59-index lenses.
If you need progressive lenses, higher-index (i.e. thinner) lenses, or Trivex lenses, these will incur additional costs. Prescription sunglasses and optional coatings (polarization, blue-light filtering, etc.) are also extra.
What Are the Best Prescription Safety Glasses Brands?
Some of the most trusted, well-known prescription safety glasses brands include Oakley, Titmus, OnGuard, and 3M.
What Does the ANSI Z87.1 Marking Mean?
ANSI stands for the American National Standards Institute, a non-profit organization that determines appropriate safety standards and guidelines for all kinds of safety gear.
The ANSI Z87.1 standard is the certification standard for facial and eye protection devices. When a pair of glasses is marked with “Z87”, it means it has undergone testing and meets the velocity impact requirements for protecting your eyes.
Can I Get Prescription Safety Sunglasses?
You sure can. Most retailers that manufacture prescription safety glasses offer different tints and colors you can customize your lens with. Polarized lenses, mirror, and anti-fog coatings are also available.
Can I Get Bifocal or Progressive Safety Glasses?
Yes. Prescription safety glasses can be made with single vision (near or far), bifocal (lined) or progressive (no-line) lenses, as well as non-Rx reading lenses.
What Do I Need to Order Prescription Safety Glasses Online?
You’ll need your glasses prescription and your pupillary distance (PD) measurement. Your PD is the distance between your pupils measured in mm.
You can have a single PD (like 59) that measures the entire distance, or a dual PD (like 32/30), which measures the distance between the center of each pupil to the bridge of your nose.