Protective Eyewear for First Responders

Your team is risking it all to help others. It's your responsibility to select the gear they need to keep them safe while doing their job. They depend on you to get it right. When considering protective eyewear, there are several options on the market, deciding which ones are the best for your crew can be a difficult task.  

The following guidelines can help you make an informed recommendation or purchase decision. If the eyewear you select isn’t offering complete protection, it may expose your team to unnecessary risks and potential injuries.  

Buy polycarbonate lenses with a proven track record of protection against high-velocity projectiles and blunt force impacts. Polycarbonate lenses are the most impact-resistant of any lens on the market. Compared to plastic or glass, polycarbonate lenses are thinner, lighter and shatterproof.  

Consider the visible light transmission (VLT) when selecting your crew’s protective eyewear. VLT is the amount of visible light passing through the lenses that reaches the eyes. Different tints on the lens affect how much light reaches the eyesas well as perceived color and contrast.  

Polarized lenses filter light to eliminate glare in bright conditions, resulting in less squinting, eyestrain and stress, with improved all day comfort. Your crew will be able to see better on bright days with the aid of the light-blocking filters found in polarized lenses. 

Make sure the eyewear you select has UV protection. UV rays can cause both long and short-term damage to one’s eyes. Long-term exposure to the sun can accelerate macular degeneration in the eyes and cause cataracts.  

Allocate adequate time to fully evaluate the range of activities and tasks your team will be undertaking and identify the potential hazards. Decide whether tactical sunglasses will offer the proper protection your crew needs. The sun, debris, dust, particulates in air, bullet fragments or shrapnel represent potential risks to your team. Accurately identifying and prioritizing those risks can aid in making the right protective eyewear decision. 

MIL-PRF and ANSI-certified eyewear have the highest rating for non-military protective glasses. Eyewear used for ballistic protection must meet either then the MIL-DTL-43511D (for goggles) or MIL-PRF-31013 (for glasses) standards. 

The specifications for U.S. Military Combat Eye Protection (MCEP) specifications for combat eye protection are even stricter. MCEP terms include protection from flying debris, ballistic hazards and dust on the battlefield and during training while remaining compatible with existing gear. MIL-PRF and ANSI standards also apply. 

Select safety eyewear that offers your team protection against specific workplace hazards as well as unsuspected things that can occur on the job. Being meticulous about little things like the fit of the eyewear may seem menial, but it is time well spent when considering the 2000+ daily worksite eye injuries that require medical attention. Personal injuries are not only difficult for the individual but also weakens your unit when you’re down a colleague. 

Properly designed eyewear will provide unrestricted vision and movement. High-wrap frames offer complete peripheral vision, which is a must when considering threats coming from multiple directions. Cheaper sunglasses may include bulky frames which can cause a blind spot when driving. Premium wrap-around sunglasses eliminate blind spots while creating additional protection. 

There are many important factors to consider when selecting the protective eyewear for your unit. The best eyewear manufactures don’t compromise when it comes to safety standards. There are a variety of styles available when it comes to selecting the right pair of protective eyewear for your team. Conduct adequate research to identify the brands and products that meet your specific requirements for safety, fit and functionality. Learn more at eyewear for first responders.