Eye Protection

By Team Greyhive


*Disclaimer: This article is not meant to provide medical care or safety advice, consult your Optometrist prior to making any decisions regarding visual correction and protection. The standards and regulations are subject to change. This article was written by Josh Goetz who is in the Optometry field. He is our newest addition to Greyhive and will be releasing more articles on vision as it relates to shooters in the future. Stay tuned for more value to your training. For some shooting is a hobby, for others it is a lifestyle, and others it is just a part of the job. Regardless of what role shooting plays in your life it is an activity that we all plan on doing for as long as we are physically able. Of course we hope to never have an accident, but reality is that they do occur. It is important to take any steps that we can to prevent these injuries and be prepared for ones that we cannot prevent.

It is important to take any steps that we can to prevent injuries...

One easy step that we can take to prevent injuries whether on the range or on the job is wearing eye protection. It is often taken lightly and within some circles deemed unnecessary. I have personally been on the range when this blows up in someone's face, quite literally. Another common misconception is that standard prescription glasses will provide adequate eye protection. This is not the case and the materials used are not tested to the same standards as safety eyewear. The only thing worse than leaving the range is doing so in an ambulance. The first place to start is to make sure that you are getting the protection you need. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) states the minimum requirements for protective eyewear. Appropriate eyewear will be marked with Z87+ stating that it has passed a high impact level testing. Be aware however, that according to PEO Soldier, "Other commercial eyewear products, even if marked ANSI Z87.1 compliant, do not necessarily meet military impact requirements". There is a separate and more stringent standard maintained by the military, but there is not currently a regulated marking for eye pro that meet it. There is a list of military approved eye protection that can be found on the PEO Soldier website, Authorized Protective Eyewear List (APEL).

I have personally been on the range when this blows up in someone's face...

The most common impact resistance material used in glasses is polycarbonate. This is lightweight material that works great for nearly all of the demands of shooters. One possible downside is that poly is known to cause color fringes around objects from a distortion called chromatic aberration. For those focused on precision shooting where optical clarity is paramount consider Trivex as another option, although this is generally a more expensive material. These are the two most common options for high impact demands, but be sure to discuss your options with your local optometrist. They often have the different materials on hand to help you make an informed decision. Tinted lenses increase color perception and are chosen based off environmental and lighting conditions. Due to personal preference the optimum tint for a certain environment can vary, however there are some general guidelines that can be followed. Different tints are not going to improve visual acuity but they can make a significant difference in contrast. Although it sounds like common sense, the general rule of thumb is that the best tint is one that will cause the color of the target you are looking at to be most pronounced. For example, red or amber filters may be useful in the use of red fiber optic sights or red dots optics. Tints in the orange spectrum are often used for shooting clays. The best tint depends on lighting from the environment as well, so frames that have multiple lens options are great. Polarized lenses are designed to cut glare and reflections which is ideal for shooting under bright conditions.

Different tints are not going to improve visual acuity but they can make a significant difference in contrast.

When looking for eye protection a few things to keep in mind are the appropriate safety rating, good coverage around the eye known as frame wrap, and how it will interact with your hearing protection. From personal experience, I have a scar as a reminder of learning what can happen in a poor fitting frame when a piece of hot brass landed between my glasses and my temple. As with anything you get what you pay for, but keep in mind if they protect you from just one spent casing they will be well worth it. The American Academy of Ophthalmology states that 90% of ocular injuries could be prevented by wearing proper protective eyewear. Here at Greyhive, we would much rather fall in that category. Shoot straight, train safe, and look good doing it.

Article By Team Greyhive
Delivering Trusted Content
Greyhive Team is comprised of our Experts, and key contributors to the community who must remain anonymous. Our goal is to earn your trust and become your first online destination to consume training content.


@Freidam. That is correct, any eye protection marketed as passing those standards will be a great choice. The APEL has a lot of different products, but only from companies that have contracts with the government so there are other options out there. Smith Optics has some great options for different head sizes as well as interchangeable lenses with different tints. That is what I am currently using.
Read More
So if I need to find some new gear, Z87+ should be a good place to start searching the net? You also mentioned APEL, I will have to go check that out too. Thanks for great info. !