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HomemilensesKeep it Simple: Safety First

Keep it Simple: Safety First

In a recent Australian study, Open globe injuries: epidemiology, visual and surgical predictive variables, prognostic models, and economic cost analysis,1 researchers found that younger males at work with inadequate protective eyewear (89.1%), and the elderly, were overrepresented in reported open globe injuries. They noted that inferior visual outcomes were associated with a more severe ocular trauma score. Various other correlations, requiring multiple operating theatre visits and predictions for outcomes such as no light perception, enucleation, evisceration and profound visual loss, were also reported.

Significantly, the annual cost of open globe injuries for Australia, reported in this study, ranged from $AU48.1 to $60.5 million.

Eye injuries causing visual loss can significantly affect lives, livelihoods and families. Everything we do to reduce such visual loss, is critically important. Discussing and prescribing necessary and appropriate eye protection is, therefore, an important part of any eye health consultation.

Prescribing safety eyewear doesn’t always need to be complex. Simply supplying relatively inexpensive plano safety glasses – for those who do not habitually wear glasses – or fit-over versions for existing spectacle wearers, for things like whipper-snipping, chain-sawing, hammering, angle grinding etc., can make a world of difference.

On the other hand, purpose-made Rx safety glasses can benefit full-time spectacle wearers who are frequently exposed to risks – such as tradies (who often fit the demographic of ‘younger males at work’). Workers in mines and heavy industry fortunately have to comply with safety protocols, rules and regulations. Safety spectacles are part of the kit, along with fluoro jackets, steelcapped boots, hard hats, and ear protection. However, each of these items has to be worn to be effective. It’s astounding to see, for example, a concrete cutter wearing earmuffs but no safety glasses. Go figure.


As I was writing this story, I received a call from my dad, who’d climbed out of bed and fallen on his head. He had a massive swelling and bruising on his forehead though, fortunately, there was no eye injury.

It brought to mind the value of recommending safety spectacles to elderly people who are prone to, or at risk of, falling.

Many elderly people have cataract surgery, which leaves them largely spectacle free.

While this is generally favourable for quality of life, the lack of need for optical glasses does make protecting them from eye injuries associated with falls more challenging. While many will reject the need for full blown safety glasses, if they do have habitual spectacles, fitting them with a safer lens material like Trivex would, at least, provide some protection.

There are some decent looking medium impact certified safety frames that would suffice, such as the Ugly Fish Whirlwind and Twister models.

These can be fitted with a broad Rx range of sphere, cyl and lens designs, in polycarbonate or Trivex materials – including photochromic and polarised options – to suit most needs and requirements.

But, are they likely to put their safety glasses on when they wake up to go to the bathroom in the dead of night? Add dementia to the equation and one can see that this is a problem area. Nevertheless, it’s something we need to address and discuss with our elderly patients and their carers.

Trent McInerney, well know director of Rx Safety, reinforced some aspects of safety glasses that should be remembered. He said, “The overwhelming determination of the prescription safety spectacle market is to accept only certified product”, noting that most of their sales are for certified products.

For any wearers of certified prescription safety eyewear using power tools, this means a choice of only two lens materials; polycarbonate and Trivex. No other lens materials have the strength to be characterised as medium impact. Polycarbonate, being even stronger than Trivex, also has the ability to be used as a high impact lens material. The choice of materials is decided by the circumstances of the wearer, their workplace and their Rx.

The table above summarises some key aspects of these materials.

Mr McInerney went on to provide further explanation.

“The effect of the Abbe number may lead the dispenser to choose Trivex if the script is higher than +/-3.00D. (In our experience, for the majority of scripts under +/- 3.00D, the effect of Abbe is unimportant).

“The additional thickness of Trivex lenses, coupled with its lower refractive index, means that thinner lenses are achievable with polycarbonate. We find that wearers expect their safety spectacles to be somewhat thicker than their streetwear. Although uncommon, wearers sensitive to thickness issues may choose polycarbonate.”

He also noted that Trivex and polycarbonate lenses are, by necessity, hard coated on both surfaces and that their durability in use seems similar.


Safety goes beyond impact resistant eyewear. For nurses and doctors, safety eyewear needs to protect against airborne bone fragments, body fluids, pathogens or toxic, caustic or acidic fluids, alcohol, cleaners and so on. Sealed safety frames are popular in these circumstances, as they are in dusty environments and environments where chemicals are used.

When it comes to chemical resistant lenses, Mr McInerney, says polycarbonate is significantly poorer than Trivex. “Polycarbonate lenses can be affected badly by some solvents and also some chemicals, including certain sunscreens. As a general rule if the patient is using chemicals, use Trivex.

“In summary, if the patient has a high Rx and/or chemicals, use Trivex. If the patient has a low Rx and doesn’t use chemicals, then it won’t really matter what lens material is chosen, however polycarbonate will provide a somewhat thinner lens,” he concluded.

Many practitioners regularly see patients who work in x-ray environments.2 To this end, a 1.80 index leaded glass lens material, containing lead oxide and specially formulated by Schott, can be prescribed. These lenses provide eye safety protection against scattered radiation in areas such as electro physiology, orthopaedic surgery, radiology, catheterisation laboratories, urologic procedures, veterinary surgery and nuclear facilities.

Lenses are also available to protect from harmful infra-red, laser emissions and of course ultraviolet rays, which are important in certain professions.

As you can see, workers in a variety of professions can be exposed to dangerous substances – whether airborne, spilt or splashed. Caustic ocular chemical burns are among some of the worst. For people at risk of these burns, a shield will provide added facial protection.

It’s important to understand that proper safety eyewear needs to comply with the necessary standards (viz. Certified Prescription Safety Spectacles to the Australian Standard AS/NZS 1337.6: 2012). Additionally, safety eyewear must be provided by a licenced safety spectacle provider and each pair must be certified as meeting the standards.


No matter where you practice, you will see people who would benefit from safety eyewear on a daily basis. This makes safety eyewear an important consideration in our workup, questioning and case history. Discussions during the consultation and dispensing can open opportunities to suggest eye safety strategies and recommend appropriate protection.

If you practice in or near to an industrial area, it’s worth visiting the businesses, meeting with the safety officers and offering your safety Rx services. An email or phone call can also help to get the ball rolling. Providing safety eyewear can be a great practice builder, and, as we hear from those who get involved, we must never forget that our contact lens wearers also need protection.

Check out the range of offerings in the following product section and talk to your providers. Most in the ANZ region can provide safety spectacle options either directly, or via a third-party specialist provider.


  1. Lee, Hunter, Robaei, Samarawickrama. Open globe injuries: epidemiology, visual and surgical predictive variables, prognostic models, and economic cost analysis. Clin Exp Ophthalmol; 2021 May;49(4):336-346 
  2. Cousins, Lawdahl, Chakroborty & Koehler. The case for Radioprotective Eyewear/Facewear: Practical Implications and Suggestions. Invest.Radiology,22:688-692, (1987).
OnGuard Industrial Safety Eyewear

According to Hilco Vision, its OnGuard Industrial Safety eyewear has been “the trusted prescription safety brand since 1999”.

With a continuous focus on innovation, design, and anticipating consumer needs, Hilco Vision’s fashion forward design styles make wearing safety rated eyewear (AS/NZ 1337.6:2012) more appealing. Frames are non-conductive, comfortable, and durable, and there are six unique collections to choose from, ranging from industrial construction to home carpentry, and all with a two-year materials and workmanship warranty.

Visit: hilcovision.com 

Shamir Certified Safety Eyewear

Reliable eye protection is like home or car insurance – your patients wont realise how valuable it is until they really need it.

Shamir’s certified range of safety eyewear provides impact protection that looks and feels great, while offering unmatched visual clarity.

The combination of Shamir’s innovative technologies coupled with impact protection, comfort, and exceptional optics, means patients don’t need to sacrifice protection for style or comfort for quality. Shamir offers solutions suitable for all day wear, even under the most challenging of conditions.

Contact: Shamir (AUS) 1300 553 465 


Kover is one of Bollé Safety’s newest product releases. With its safety glasses frame shape, this forms part of the prescription range as a ‘hybrid frame’.

The new dark blue model features a gasket and adjustable strap which provides the wearer with a positive seal, maximising protection from dust, gases and chemical splashes. This protection is further enhanced by an overflow chute for liquids, drawing harmful chemicals away from the eyes and face.

The sealed bi-material frame provides a wide field of vision for the wearer and is available with several lens technologies to enhance performance in different environments. For changing light conditions, Kover is available with Modulator technology for a photochromic experience and B-ZEN lens technology, which blocks out harmful blue light from screens.

Tested and certified to AS/NZS 1337.6 for prescription safety medium impact, chemical splash, gas and dust protection, Bollé Safety’s Platinum anti-scratch/antifog lens technology is also available.

Contact: Your Bollé Account Manager

The Cobra

The ‘Cobra’ is a new plastic positive-seal frame exclusively developed by Ugly Fish for the PSG Private Label range.

The Cobra combines function and fashion to get tough jobs done with confidence and perfect protection.

This new frame comes in a featurepacked modern rectangular style with chiselled lines, thick temples for ample side protection, an adjustable nose bridge, and a T-clip adjustable strap.

Available in two stylish colours: matt black and crystal dark blue.

Contact: PSG Eyewear (AUS) 02 9914 3740 

Hoya Safety Eyewear

Hoya Safety Eyewear has been a leading supplier of safety eyewear products since the introduction of the safety standards in 2007. Hoya’s comprehensive range of Safety frames offers design and functionality with every task in mind, and can provide an all-round safety solution, for you and your customers. Hoya’s Safety frame range includes frames of many colours and sizes. Hoya also provides multi-functioning frames that perform differently for each given task.

With Hoya’s leading-edge Phoenix material, which is clearer and lighter than many other safety materials on the market today, your safety customer will be protected in more ways than one. From providing a solution to manufacturing and industrial customers, to protecting weekend warriors, Hoya Safety Eyewear has a solution for them all.

Contact: Hoya Account Manager 

Rx Safety

Rx Safety are specialists in certified and compliant prescription safety eyewear.

Rx Safety has been licenced since 2007 to manufacture certified prescription safety spectacles to the Australian Standard AS/NZS 1337.6:2012.

The Australian owned company can provide certified product in both Trivex and polycarbonate lenses in single vision, bifocal and multifocal designs, with lens treatments ranging from clear, to tinted grey, polarised grey and Transitions grey. Multicoating is available.

Rx Safety sources prescription safety frames from leading suppliers. New frames are frequently added to the Rx Safety frame range to keep designs fresh. The company has calibrated ballistics, penetration and dropball testing equipment, enabling onsite spectacle analysis to AS/NZS1337.6.

Contact: Rx Safety (AUS) 1800 111 381 

Ugly Fish Eyewear

Aussie brand Ugly Fish Eyewear prides itself on supplying sunglasses that look cool, while maximising form, function and protection for eyes. That makes these frames perfect for active people who love to get outdoors. Ugly Fish Eyewear also offers a motorcycle range, which is built to ride with maximum protection and comfort, all in a slick sports wrap-around frame.

Ugly Fish has partnerships with Essilor, Hoya, OSA, PSG and Rx Safety Laboratories to supply finished prescription sunglass frame and lens packages.

Contact: Ugly Fish Eyewear (AUS) 1300 369 574