September 01, 2020

Are regular glasses sufficient eye protection for woodworking?

Q: My husband and I like to do woodworking projects, such as building dollhouses for our grandkids. He thinks we're fine just wearing our prescription eyeglasses even with power tools. Should we be doing more to protect our eyes?

A: Woodworking is a great activity for people of all ages. However, you are right to be concerned about eye safety with this hobby or with many others. Flying objects can cause serious injury, and sawdust can irritate the eyes and cause infection.

Your regular glasses are better than nothing to help protect your eyes. But you should consider options that provide stronger protection via sturdier materials and more complete coverage.

Look for safety glasses that fit standards created by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). These are less likely to shatter and will provide fuller protection against more types of injury than regular glasses. Look for glasses that carry the ANSI logo, or are labeled with "Z87," the standard pertaining to eyewear within ANSI guidelines. Products that meet these standards are relatively easy to find when you know what to look for and are typically inexpensive.

If you wear prescription glasses, you don't have to give up the improved sight they provide. Talk to your eye doctor about buying ANSI-certified safety glasses that can be made to fit your prescription. Other options may be large enough to fit over your regular glasses. Stick-on magnifiers also can be added to the safety glasses.

While you're thinking about workshop safety, don't forget to wear dust masks or another type of respirator to protect your lungs from sawdust or fumes — and have earmuffs or earplugs on hand to protect your hearing when you are generating a lot of noise such as with a power saw.