At some point in the safety eyewear selection process, you may wonder if it really matters if, for example, you have Clear lenses versus Amber tinted lenses on your safety glasses. The short answer is yes - it absolutely does matter. Just as one pair of safety eyewear does not fit all, one tint isn’t good for all applications and environments.
(As if there weren’t already enough things to consider before purchasing safety eyewear!)
The right tint on your lenses is essential because it increases clarity of vision and helps lessen eye strain and fatigue; all things that can have a long-term effect on your eyes’ health and your safety on the job.
If you’re unsure of which safety eyewear tint may be right for your environment, use the quick reference guide below to help steer you in the right direction.
The first and probably most common tint is Clear. Clear lenses are ideal for most applications and are typically the standard lens tint for most safety glasses. Primarily used indoors, safety glasses with a clear lens are often worn to protect workers from impacts on the job.
HexArmor® Clear tinted lenses offer 100% consistent optical clarity across the entire lens, giving wearers as close to natural vision as you can get.
If you’re consistently in situations where there is less than perfect lighting, you may want to consider HexArmor® Amber tinted lenses.
HexArmor® Amber tint enhances contrast in poorly lit working conditions. By partially filtering out the blue end of the light spectrum, the Amber tint brightens and adds contrast to shapes and shadows by sharpening detail in challenging conditions that otherwise would be hard to discern. This helps lower the strain of focus on your eyes. Amber lenses are typically used in poorly lit working environments including nighttime and early morning outdoor applications.
However, be cautious, if color sensitivity is important on your job site, then the Amber tint is probably not the best choice for you, as it filters out and shifts some color from their natural state.
For environments with changing light conditions or frequent movement between indoors and outdoors, a Silver Mirror tint with 53% light transmission is ideal. Often called an “indoor/outdoor tint” HexArmor® Silver Mirror 53% allows 53% of light to come through the lens, reducing the need to squint, which can cause strain and fatigue on your optical muscles.
The best choice for extremely bright environments or natural glare conditions is a Silver Mirror tint with 12% light transmission. HexArmor® Silver Mirror 12% allows only 12% of light to come through the lenses and is ideal for high glare conditions and prolonged sun exposure. This tint helps reduce eye strain and fatigue.
Think of a Grey tint like your favorite pair of sunglasses; it’s used to dim the brightness of surroundings without color distortion.
If you work in any outdoor environment with prolonged sun exposure, whether bright or partially sunny, HexArmor® Grey tint blocks natural glare and sun glare so that you’re not putting constant strain on your eyes.
Variomatic lenses, also known as photochromic or self-tinting lenses, are for use when you’re primarily indoors but go outside on occasion (or you’re working before sunrise and into the daytime). HexArmor® Variomatic lenses are designed to darken when exposed to UV light of a certain intensity; starting as nearly clear, allowing 86% light transmission, and progressively darkening within 10 seconds to about 14%. When you go back inside, they progressively lighten within 30 seconds. Some lenses can take up to two minutes to fully transition.
However, if your job calls for prolonged work outside in intense sunlight throughout the day (versus bright or partially sunny conditions where a Grey tint would be appropriate), the better option would be HexArmor® Variomatic Dark. These lenses start at 37% light transmission and darken in 10 seconds or less to allow only 6% light transmission as the UV light intensifies.
Contrary to popular belief, polarized lenses aren’t just for fishermen and outdoor enthusiasts. Polarized lenses are important for safety purposes as well, working differently than regular tinted lenses by eliminating unwanted glare from reflected light. Anyone working in proximity to large surfaces that reflect light is in danger of scattered rays (also known as “blinding light”) from multiple directions. Job sites with large metal containers, big sheets of glass, parking lots, roads, water, or even snow, make eyes susceptible to strain by consistently squinting and trying to avoid glare.
The reduction in glare from using polarized lenses allows you to see with better contrast, visual comfort, and accuracy.