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Sunglasses Safety Ratings: A Guide to Decoding And Understanding The ANSI Chart

by Bulltru Sunglasses 25 Jan 2024

As you browse the internet for the ideal safety glasses, you often see charts detailing sunglasses safety ratings and their various safety features. Understanding the multitude of industry-specific TLAs (three-letter acronyms) can be overwhelming, especially when you already have much going on.

For this reason, the Bulltru team has created a helpful guide to assist you in maneuvering through these challenging waters.

In this guide, we will go over the significance of the markings found on eye protection and how to determine the appropriate type of eyewear PPE required for your specific job. By the conclusion, you will have a deep understanding of safety eyewear and be able to educate your colleagues on the subject.

Understanding the ANSI Sunglasses Safety Ratings

The ANSI, or American National Standards Institute, is an organization that oversees and develops standards for various industries in the United States.

To ensure that your safety eyewear complies with the ANSI protection standard, it is essential to determine if it meets the requirements. The American National Standards Institute is responsible for creating guidelines and performance measures to govern safety protocols in various fields.

The ANSI Z87.1 certification considers the top standard for safeguarding the eyes and face. It revised this standard in 2020, guaranteeing that your eyewear fulfills specific eye protection criteria.

It is essential for all quality safety glasses to offer protection from:

  • Dust
  • Debris
  • Heat
  • Impact
  • Radiation
  • Splashes

ANSI has established voluntary testing protocols to guarantee the effectiveness of safety goggles and safety glasses in preventing eye injuries. This gives manufacturers confidence in their safety eyewear's protective capabilities.

ANSI testing is the process of evaluating a product's conformance to the standards set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

The most prevalent types of testing focus on verifying that safety standards uphold impact resistance, acceptable dust protection, and protection against chemical splashes and splatters for protective eyewear.

ANSI Testing Protocols

Protection Against Impacts

The CDC states that debris striking or scraping the eyes causes most on-the-job eye injuries. However, wearing shatter-resistant eyewear can prevent 90% of these injuries and all other eye injuries.

ANSI sunglasses safety ratings tests the impact resistance of eyewear. To ensure the safety of workers in specific jobs, OSHA typically mandates that the ANSI impact resistance standards are met. Safety eyewear must undergo two significant high-impact tests to obtain approval for completing the ANSI Z87.1 standard.

  • Test for enormous mass impact. A head form is fitted with protective eyewear, and a pointed cone-shaped object is released from a height of approximately four to six feet.
  • Conducting high-speed impact testing. The safety glasses, mounted on a headform, must withstand a steel ball bearing launched directly at the lens at a high velocity.

Ace both examinations without cracking, snapping, or splintering, and you'll possess a set of safety glasses or goggles certified by ANSI Z87.1. While they may not have any extraordinary abilities, you'll likely feel enhanced protection while sporting them.

Dusty, Dusty, Infant

The situation can quickly turn serious when dust enters your eyes. Not only is it bothersome, but it can also cause significant harm. If a large amount of dust gets into your eyes, it could result in a corneal abrasion or an eye infection. If the dust is composed of hazardous substances, it could even put your eyesight in danger.

The letter "D" indicates that a pair of glasses or goggles has undergone ANSI testing for dust protection. The numerical value following the letter D specifies the level or type of dust the eyewear can shield against. This information is typically marked on the lens or frame of the eyewear.

  • D4. This eyewear is certified by ANSI to protect against dust particles, making it suitable for woodworking, lawn mowing, and yard work.
  • D5. Eyewear labeled with a D5 provides a safeguard against tiny dust particles. This type of particle is frequently encountered in tasks like grinding, sanding, and buffing.

For individuals exposed to dusty environments either through work or leisure, it is necessary to wear eyewear to safeguard against potential eye hazards.

Splashes and Splatters

The first things that come to our minds when considering liquid-related eye dangers are extreme scenarios such as molten metal, corrosive substances, or bodily fluids. However, protective glasses are also designed for tasks involving splashes and splatters and for more common tasks like household cleaning products (specifically, bleach).

In ANSI sunglasses safety ratings, a unique chemical paper is positioned behind the protective eyewear on a head form to assess resistance against dust and liquids. The lenses are then sprayed with water, and any color change on the paper where the eyes would be indicates the need for further revisions. This leads to a reassessment of the design in question.

The glasses labeled as "D3" have been approved to protect against splashes and droplets.

Overview of Crucial Sunglasses Safety Ratings Labels

Aside from the D's and ANSI, various eye and face protective gear markings may have been overlooked as mere indications of production. To assist you in comprehending their significance, we have included a simple guide (with the previously discussed markings included for clarification).


ANSI Certified for Regular Impact


ANSI Certified for High Impact




Splashes and dust particles


Fine dust particles


Protects against infrared light

U (followed by a number)

Offers UV protection. The number indicates how much.

L (followed by a number)

These glasses have a visible light filter; the level is indicated by the number. You might see this on blue light-blocking glasses.


This mark indicates that the personal eye protection is safe to use while welding. Commonly located on face shields.


Reserved for prescription lenses on safety glasses


Anti-fog coating


Scratch resistant

The Key Features to Consider for Safety Eyewear

If you require eyewear for either home or work purposes, there are several essential components that you will need.

Resilience to Impact

Ensuring your protective eyewear is certified with the sunglasses safety ratings ANSI Z87.1-2020 standard for impact resistance is crucial. If not, it could endanger your eyes.

When engaging in activities such as mowing or woodworking, it is not advisable to wear your usual eyeglasses as they need to provide sufficient protection for your eyes. The glass lenses are not designed to withstand the potential impact of accidents related to sawing, machining, mowing, or weeding. Suppose you wish to avoid visiting the emergency room after completing yard work. In that case, avoiding wearing your regular eyeglasses is best.

Protective Shields for the Sides and Top

Conventional eyeglasses do not provide sufficient protection in two crucial areas: the space above the eyebrow and the sides of each eye near the temples. These tiny gaps allow splashes, splatters, and debris to enter the eye area, potentially causing injury.

Using top and side shields protects these specific regions, ensuring the safety of your eyes against potential threats from peripheral vision.

Moreover, individuals who require prescription safety glasses would benefit from using side and top shields. The prescription lens may become distorted when using wraparound safety glasses, giving the sensation of working in a carnival funhouse rather than your workplace.

Protection Against UV Rays

Regardless of where you are, it is essential to have protection against UV rays. The harmful effects of UV light on your eyes can be significant. Prolonged exposure to the sun's rays can accelerate the aging process of your eyes, similar to how the sun impacts your skin.

Exposure to the sun can result in mild discomfort and burning of the cornea, which may feel like there is a constant presence of sand in the eye. Moreover, UV light can enter the eye and reach the retina, where retinal cells are situated. As the American Academy of Ophthalmology explains, this could lead to the early development of macular degeneration.

Suppose you have worries about wearing tinted glasses. In that case, it is essential to note that there are alternatives to sunglasses for UV protection.

Preventing Fogging

Having foggy glasses is not ideal, especially when wearing them to protect yourself from potential dangers. When your glasses become foggy, they must be taken off and cleaned.

Taking off your glasses has two primary outcomes:

  • Disturbs your focus. Whatever task you were engaged in is now interrupted, and if it demands intense attention, that is no longer possible. Consider the potential consequences of losing focus while handling chemicals or operating a wood chipper.
  • Exposing your eyes to danger. It's not just the possibility of getting injured from being distracted. Taking off any of your personal protective gear puts you in danger of being exposed to the potential threat that the gear was meant to protect you from.

These specialized lenses alter how moisture accumulates on the glasses' surface, ensuring they remain clear and do not require frequent cleaning.

Blocking Blue Light

Like ultraviolet light, the sun emits blue light as its primary source. Like UV light, it can enter the eye and reach the retina. However, our understanding of blue light is less extensive than our knowledge of UV light, which suggests that prolonged exposure to blue light may negatively impact eye health.

There are numerous sources of blue light, such as smartphones and computers, that we are exposed to daily. We must use lenses with blue light filtering technology to safeguard our eyes

Combining Safety and Style

At, you should not have to sacrifice style for safety. That is why our collection offers a range of frames and colors that are visually appealing and equipped with the necessary safety features.

Safety symbols may confuse you, but now you are a proficient specialist. Show off your safety expertise to your acquaintances (or at least irritate them) with your level of knowledge in this field.

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