Safety Goggles vs. Glasses: What’s Better for Spray Painting?

Safety Glasses for Painters

There are many hazards in the workplace that can affect your eyes.

To protect your eyes from short-term or long-term damage, it is recommended that you wear safety glasses.

Safety eyewear is highly recommended for any type of work in which the eyes may be adversely affected.

Safety glasses or safety goggles protect the eyes from particles that are either harmful or move at speeds that can damage the eyes.

Understanding the importance of safety glasses or safety goggles will help you better prepare when doing jobs that might affect your eyes.

But what are the differences between safety glasses and safety goggles? And which one should you use depending on the job at hand?

What are Safety Glasses?

Safety glasses have the same look as normal sunglasses that you purchase at a department store.

They fit like normal glasses, and many will fit over prescription lens glasses so you can maintain proper eyesight. Safety glasses are noted for their features.

Lens Size, Shape, & Protection:

The lenses are made from hardened plastic that maintains transparency so you can see through them easily.

The larger the lenses, the more area of the eyes and face are protected, as you may need when performing more ruthless jobs like sanding and spray painting.

The shape of the lens will also offer better protection for the eyes and part of the face.

The better the shape and the closer the lenses are to the eyes, the more protection they will offer.

The ‘wraparound’ shape is a popular choice because it offers a larger area of protection, including the sides where particles may get in.

The protective properties of safety glasses for painters consist of more than just the hardness of the lenses.

There are several types of protection that are offered depending on the glasses that you choose.

  • Anti-Scratch: Prevents surface scratches on the lens
  • Anti-Glare: Reduces glare from the sun
  • Anti-Mist: Prevents misting of the lens for better clarity
  • UV: Protects eyes from ultraviolet rays of the sun
  • Welding Filters: May protect from intense light caused by welding

Then there is Clarity:

Safety glasses only work if you can clearly see through them. The clarity of the lenses is divided into three separate classes.

  • Class 1: Optimal clarity. It can be used all the time without causing harm to the eyes
  • Class 2: Intermittent Use. It should only be used for the length of a specific job
  • Class 3: Occasional Use: If you need to pop on the safety glasses for a moment, this will do  

There are other factors such as the overall mechanical strength of the glasses, and the specific style, such as those that protect the temples along with the eyes.

And there are the safety glasses that fit over prescription lens glasses.

Safety Goggles for Spray Painting

What are Safety Goggles – How It’s Different?

Safety goggles have the same lens ratings and requirements as safety glasses.

They are virtually identical in terms of function.

However, there are two critical differences between safety goggles and safety glasses.

Goggles have a soft-rubber seal that is placed directly against the face.

This means that the eyes are fully protected thanks to the seal around the eyes’ top, bottom, and sides.

The second difference is that googles remain attached thanks to a soft elastic strap that is pulled around the back of the head, which secures the goggles to the face.

In essence, the design is just like goggles used for swimming that keeps the water separate from the eyes.

In the case of safety goggles, the lenses are made from hardened plastic to keep the eyes protected from impacts and chemicals that otherwise would damage the eyes.

In terms of overall protection, safety goggles are better compared to safety glasses.

This is because the eyes are fully separated from the atmosphere so that no particle can get inside. But there is one important issue.

And its ventilation.

How, you may ask?

One issue with goggles is that the inner seal will stop any airflow around the eyes.

Without some type of ventilation, the safety goggles for painters will soon mist and limit your ability to see. Many safety goggles will have an anti-mist coating to reduce fogging.

Other factors include optical clarity, which should be Class 1 for anyone using safety goggles.

A few additional factors also include the properties of the lenses and the overall shape and size while still being able to fit snugly around the eyes.

What are Some of the Best Safety Glasses for Painters?

I think a few brands that lead the safety goggles and glasses market include 3M, Ergodyne, NoCry, Trimaco, and Carhartt.

Among these, I have tried the 3M Virtua CCS, Trimaco’s E-Z Clean, and some cheaper ones – other than those mentioned above.

From my personal experiences, I can only say that 3M Virtua CCS is the most comfortable for me, and if you would choose them (or any of the safety glasses from the brands I mentioned above), you can’t go wrong.

When choosing, there are, however, certain things you should look for and keep in mind; these include…

  • The type of job or project you are working on
  • How long you will be wearing them
  • Lens material, tints, and treatments
  • Whether you will be working indoors or outdoors
  • Your preferences in terms of style, comfort, fit, and safety features

A few can fit with a respirator when buying safety glasses, particularly for the spray painting project.

So, that’s something you might also want to keep in mind.

The bottom line

As we have seen above, there are pros and cons to both – safety goggles and glasses for spray paint.

Glasses protect your eyes from the paint and fumes, whereas goggles protect your eyes as well as the rest of your face.

Goggles, on the other hand, may fog up more quickly than glasses, but they also provide a better seal around the eyes so that no paint or fumes can get in.

In general, if you are going to be working with harsh chemicals or doing a lot of spray painting in or around your house, it is best to wear goggles rather than glasses.

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