How to pick the right safety glasses for you

3M Safety & Graphics
Tuesday, 01 September, 2020

Eye Protection products are used in many industries to protect against flying particles, liquids, chemicals, molten metals, radiated heat and glare. The 3M™ range of safety spectacles and goggles offer the user protection from eye hazards including medium impact flying fragments.

Safety glasses come in numerous shapes and styles, but do you know how to choose the right tinted safety glasses for your job? Safety glasses are available in many different tints that serve many different purposes, depending on the job at hand and your environment. Tinted safety glasses can help reduce glare, reflect bright light, absorb harmful light, including UV and infrared (IR), and even increase contrast in your field of vision.

We’re discussing the reasons why selecting the right lens for your specific application is so important and sharing what you need to know about lens tints.

Why does choosing the right lens matter?


The top reason why lens tint matters comes down to safety. When you’re wearing the right colour of tinted lenses, not only will this help protect your eyes from the hazards of the job at hand, your eyes can feel less fatigued from strain that can result from different working conditions. This can result in fewer instances of workers removing eyewear from their face due to discomfort, thereby keeping them safer. It’s also important to look for eyewear that meets AS/NZS 1337.1:2010, which means it has passed impact testing and other safety requirements that can help protect your eyes.


The right eyewear can help reduce light sensitivities, eye strain and headaches for wearers. Polycarbonate lenses contain UVA and UVB coatings, which help protect eyes from light conditions that can damage them and increase a wearer’s risk of developing eye disease, including cataracts. Different people have different needs and choosing the right lens tints can be beneficial to a worker’s health.


Certain lens tints provide contrast and can help workers see fine details better and more easily. This can help workers complete certain tasks more accurately and more quickly.


This is one of the most important considerations when choosing a lens tint — and personal protective equipment (PPE) in general! When PPE is comfortable, workers are more likely to wear it and keep it on. This is why 3M produces so many different styles of safety eyewear and encourages sampling different pairs of safety glasses to see what will work for a worker’s individual face size and shape. To help objectively measure comfort and fit, we specially developed the 3M Eyewear Fit Testing System to help measure gaps and fit around the eyes to promote optimal protection and comfort.

3M Protective Eyewear Lens Tints

It likely isn’t a surprise that clear safety glasses are the most popular choice of safety glasses. Luminance transmittance is the highest with clear safety glasses, at 93%. This means that a clear lens allows for the maximum amount of light to pass through the lens, which is beneficial for tasks requiring well-lit environments. Safety eyewear lenses made with polycarbonate will naturally absorb approximately 99% of UVA and UVB light, which provides additional protection to the user. All 3M polycarbonate lenses have been tested to the newest AS/NZS 1337.1:2010 to ensure compliance and safety. Safety glasses with clear lenses are best for everyday use and are appropriate for a wide variety of applications and uses.

Below is a Polycarbonate Lens Selection Guide that will help you understand the need for different colour lenses and lens types for industrial applications. It will also help you determine what type of lens is best for your application and environment. There are many lens options other than Clear, Grey and Mirror. When choosing a lens, the basic “rule of thumb” is to consider colour opposites.

Lens/Colour Type

Lens Properties/Use

Suggested Applications/Environments


Maximum amount of light reaches the eye for good vision.

General everyday eye protection.

Grey, Bronze

Reduces brightness and glare from the sun.

Mainly for outdoor daytime use in typical sunglass use.

Mirror & Coloured Mirror

Reduces brightness and glare from the sun.

Mainly for outdoor daytime use in typical sunglass use.


Reduces brightness and glare when working both indoors and outdoors.

For tasks requiring frequent movement indoor to/from outdoor. Loading docks, forklift drivers, construction or similar jobs.


Reduces brightness and glare from the sun and indoor lighting.

Lens darkens when outside and lightens when inside. Do not use for frequent indoor to/from outdoor movement.


Reduces brightness and glare from the sun.

Exceptional for reducing reflective glare. Mainly outdoor use.


Increases contrast, reduces haze from blue lighting, excellent UV protection.

Good for inspection tasks and hazy, overcast or foggy days. Never use for night driving.

Filter Shades Green & Grey

Reduces ultraviolet, visible and infrared radiation.

Predominantly used for gas welding, cutting, brazing and soldering, metal making, furnace work and open flames.

Australian/New Zealand Standards AS/NZS 1336:2014 is an excellent reference document and aids when choosing and understanding lens types and testing. For more information go to or call Customer Service on 1300 363 565.

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