When working on your car, there are many possible ways to injure yourself. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to protect yourself from mishaps with a little bit of common sense, critical thinking, and appropriate safety gear. Most mechanics tend to primarily be concerned about their hands and will rush to their tool box religiously prior to starting work to get their mechanics gloves on. However, one thing that many mechanics seem to neglect when working on their cars is their eyes.
But they shouldn’t! Our eyes are exceedingly important and perhaps provide the sensory input that we are most reliant on. This fact, combined with the fact that there are many ways to injure your eyes while working on your car means that you should take extra care to make sure you protect your peepers. Remember, when working on your car, you eyes can be injured by things such as splashing fluids, falling debris, and flying metal chips depending on what type of work you are doing. If you need more motivation, with some creative Google searching you can easily find some pretty unforgettable images that will permanently condition you to reach for your safety glasses any time you perform work that could compromise your eyes. We will do you the favor of sparing you the gore filled pictures here.
Before we go any further, we want to clarify that the following information pertains to general use safety glasses only. If you are performing specialized tasks such as welding, UV adhesive curing, work with IR light, work with lasers, or other tasks (automotive or otherwise) that have specific eye safety requirements beyond just keeping stuff out of your eyes, the recommendations in this article will not be sufficient to protect you and you will need to seek further information specific to the equipment you are using and the environment you are working in. In these cases we recommend consulting a specialist familiar with your equipment.
When it comes to general use safety glasses, most of them do the job pretty well. The largest differences between them are coverage, tint, and adjustability. In general, the best safety glasses are the ones that maximize coverage. Modern sunglasses and eyeglasses trends typically steer people towards slimmer frames, but you must resist this urge when buying safety glasses. There is no doubt that sleek safety glasses look way cooler than larger safety glasses, but the fact is that they don’t protect you as well, particularly from fluids. While larger safety glasses won’t make you a fashion icon, we can assure you that they are still much more fashionable than an eye patch and an empty pocketbook after paying for medical treatment.
Safety Glasses Recommendations
When it comes to tint, we typically recommend clear. If you are working inside or underneath a car, tinted glasses will make it extremely difficult to see what you are doing (which itself is a safety hazard). In these cases, clear safety glasses make a lot of sense. When working outside, tinted glasses can alleviate some of the brightness from the sun, but it’s extremely important to remember that most tinted safety glasses don’t protect against UV like an average pair of sunglasses will. As such, your pupils will dilate and expose your eyes to more UV light than they would get if you were wearing clear glasses. This could potentially cause significant harm to your eyes. As such, we still typically recommend clear safety glasses instead of tinted safety glasses for outdoor work unless you can verify that the tinted glasses protect against UV (which typically increases the cost).
As far as adjustability, this is just a matter of convenience. We have never really had a problem with one size fits all safety glasses. That said, depending on your head shape and size, you may find that adjustable safety glasses are a little more comfortable and worth the small increase in cost.
The specific pair of safety glasses that we like to recommend are the Gateway 6980 Cover2 Safety Glasses. They provide ample coverage on both the front and sides of your eyes and a large enough to fit over most regular eyeglasses. The polycarbonate lens is single piece (meaning the bridge is integrated with the lenses which offers higher coverage versus two separate lenses) that is impact resistant to both ANSI Z87.1 and CSA Z94.3 standards. The temples are a little bit flexible as well as adjustable in length, which means that they will fit most people comfortably. The best part is that they cost about the same as your next coffee at Starbucks (which we would like to reiterate is also significantly cheaper than eye surgery in the event of an injury). You can find more pictures and read more reviews for these glasses by clicking here.
We would like to add one final note to preempt the question from the readers who may ask whether they can use their regular eyeglasses in lieu of safety glasses. The answer is no, you cannot use normal glasses in place of safety glasses as normal eyeglasses are not impact rated like safety glasses. Normal eyeglasses may fragment in the event of an impact and actually cause more damage to your eye depending on their material construction. If you intend to wear eyeglasses while you work, there are larger safety glasses available that are designed to fit over your regular eyeglasses. There are also prescription safety glasses available that provide you the best of both worlds.
We hope this breakdown has been helpful and that you will head our warnings and protect your eyes! While we have provided our recommendation for our favorite pair of safety glasses, there are many options out there so if the Gateway glasses aren’t quite right for you, feel free to have a look at some of the other options out there on the market by clicking here. Happy wrenching!