The Importance of Lab Goggles for Eye Protection

While lab goggles provide essential eye protection, you should consider supplemental protective equipment depending on your work environment. Face shields guard against splashes and projectiles outside the goggles' coverage. Respirators filter out hazardous particles you might inhale. Aprons, gloves, earplugs, and hair/beard covers address exposure risks goggles alone don't cover. Your safety relies on using goggles properly and pairing them with equipment matching the unique hazards you face. Assess your lab's dangers and protect yourself fully. Don't rely solely on goggles; utilize additional safeguards as needed. This article explores supplementary protections to use with goggles for your utmost security in the lab.

lab goggles

When You Should Wear Lab Goggles

Face Shields

In addition to lab goggles, face shields provide an extra layer of protection for your eyes, face, and neck from chemical splashes and spills. Face shields are made of transparent plastic and cover the entire face. They should be worn in combination with proper goggles for maximum eye protection.


Respirators, like face masks or gas masks, help protect you from inhaling dangerous fumes, gases, and particulates. The type of respirator you need depends on the specific chemicals you're working with. Be sure to check the safety requirements for the chemicals in your lab to determine if a respirator is necessary and which kind to use.

Protective Clothing

Aprons, lab coats, gloves, and other protective clothing help shield your body from chemical exposure and injury. The specific items you need depend on the types of chemicals and equipment in your lab. At a minimum, you should wear gloves appropriate for the chemicals you're handling, as well as a lab coat or apron. For the highest level of protection, wear acid- or fire-resistant lab clothing.

Ear Protection

Earplugs or earmuffs help prevent damage to your eardrums and inner ears from loud noises in the lab. Explosions, dropped equipment, and noisy machinery can all produce sounds over 85 decibels, which requires ear protection. Disposable foam earplugs and noise-canceling earmuffs are two options for blocking out hazardous lab sounds.

Hair and Beard Covers

If you have long hair, facial hair, or loose clothing, contain them to prevent interference, entanglement, or contamination. Tie back long hair and beards and tuck in loose clothing. Disposable hair and beard covers provide an extra barrier between your hair and the laboratory environment. Containing hair and beards also allows goggles, face shields, and respirators to fit properly and function as intended.

In summary, wearing proper lab goggles is critical for eye safety, but goggles alone may not provide comprehensive protection in a laboratory setting. Additional protective wear like face shields, respirators, protective clothing, ear protection, and hair/beard covers help shield you from head to toe when working with chemicals or hazardous equipment. Your safety depends on wearing all appropriate protective gear for your lab environment.

Types of Lab Goggles Available

Protecting Your Eyes

When working with hazardous chemicals, lab goggles should always be worn to shield your eyes. Corrosive, toxic, and irritating substances can damage your eyes or even cause blindness if splashed or spilled. Goggles form a protective barrier between your eyes and the chemicals. They should fit snugly but comfortably around your eyes to prevent any liquid or vapors from seeping in.

Shielding From Impact

Lab goggles also protect your eyes from flying debris like glass fragments, metal shavings, or wood chips. While conducting grinding, sawing, or chipping procedures, goggles shield your eyes from impact and abrasions. Look for goggles specifically rated for impact resistance and ensure they fit securely around your eyes.

Blocking UV Light

For tasks like welding, soldering, or working with UV curing adhesives, proper eye protection is essential to block intense ultraviolet light which can cause photokeratitis and long-term damage to your eyes. Welding goggles are specially tinted to filter UV and IR wavelengths while allowing adequate visible light transmission for the task.

Reducing Eye Strain

If you frequently use optical microscopes, telescopes, or other visual instruments, lab goggles can help reduce eye strain by blocking ambient light from the sides and providing cushioning support around the eyes. The optical clarity of the lenses is important for high magnification viewing, as any warping or imperfections will be amplified. Anti-fog coatings on the lenses maintain a clear view.

In summary, wearing properly fitted lab goggles is one of the most important safety measures you can take in a laboratory or workshop environment. A variety of styles are available to suit different applications, but in all cases look for goggles that offer impact resistance, UV protection, and an anti-fog coating for the clearest view possible. Your eyesight is not something worth risking for the sake of convenience. Better safe than sorry!

Properly Fitting Your Lab Goggles

Safety Glasses

The most common type of protective eyewear is safety glasses. These offer impact-resistant lenses and frames that sit comfortably on the nose and ears. Basic safety glasses protect against projectiles and debris but may not offer chemical splash protection. For lab use, select safety glasses that specifically indicate they meet ANSI Z87.1 standards for impact and chemical resistance.


Goggles provide more comprehensive protection than regular safety glasses. They fully seal around the eyes to protect from splash and spray exposure. Goggles suitable for laboratory use will be clearly marked as meeting ANSI Z87.1 standards for impact, dust, and chemical resistance. Reusable goggles can be cleaned and reused, while disposable goggles should be thrown out after one use. Consider anti-fogging lenses for the most visibility.

Face Shields

For procedures where there is a high risk of splash or spray exposure, face shields provide an additional level of protection when used in combination with goggles. Face shields protect the entire face and should be used when there are risks of chemical exposure beyond just the eye area. Reusable face shields must be properly cleaned, disinfected, and stored after each use. Disposable face shields should be discarded after one use.

Using the appropriate eye and face protection for your laboratory tasks is critical to your safety and the safety of those around you. Always follow the guidelines set out in your organization’s health and safety policies regarding protective equipment. When in doubt, it is best to wear maximum protection to avoid injury. Your vision and health depend on it.

Cleaning and Caring for Your Lab Goggles

Disinfecting and Sanitizing

To prevent the growth of bacteria, molds, and other microorganisms, disinfect your lab goggles after each use. Clean the exterior of the goggles with disinfectant wipes or a diluted bleach solution of no more than 10% bleach. Be sure to wipe down the entire surface of the goggles, including the headband and nose bridge. Rinse them with water and air dry completely before storing. For stubborn stains, you may need to scrub a bit with an abrasive sponge or scrubber.

Inspecting for Damage

Inspect your goggles for any signs of damage before each use. Look for cracks in the lens, tears or holes in the headband, and any loose or damaged parts. Damaged goggles will not properly protect your eyes and need to be replaced immediately. It is a good idea to have backup goggles on hand in case your primary pair becomes damaged.

Storing Properly

When not in use, store your lab goggles in a clean area away from direct sunlight. Do not stack heavy items on top of the goggles, as this can cause damage. Keeping them in a hard case or box will help prevent scratches to the lens surface. Avoid leaving them in extreme heat or cold, which can cause the materials to weaken or warp over time.

Replacing Goggles

Most lab goggles will last around 2 to 5 years with proper care and maintenance. However, goggles that show signs of significant damage or wear should be replaced sooner. If the goggles are uncomfortable, do not sit properly on your face, or do not seem to be providing adequate eye protection, they should also be replaced right away. Your vision and eye health should be a top priority, so do not take chances with old or damaged equipment.

Additional Reminders

Never touch the inside of the goggle lens with your bare hands. The oils and dirt on your hands can damage the lens coating and obscure your vision. Only handle the goggles by the headband or frame.

Always inspect your goggles for a snug yet comfortable fit before conducting an experiment or procedure. Ill-fitting goggles will not properly shield your eyes and can be a safety hazard.

Never wear goggles with regular glasses or other corrective lenses. Get prescription safety glasses or goggles if needed so you have proper eye protection.

Limitations of Lab Goggles

While lab goggles provide essential eye protection, they do have some limitations that require additional safety measures. Goggles alone may not fully protect you from all potential hazards in a laboratory setting.

Face Shields

Face shields provide splash protection for your entire face, including the sides and lower portion of the face that goggles do not cover. They should be worn when there are risks of flying debris, splashes, or sprays of hazardous chemicals. Face shields also protect goggles from getting dirty or splattered, helping to maintain optimal visibility.


Lab goggles do not provide respiratory protection from airborne fumes, gases, or particulates. For potential inhalation hazards, an appropriate respirator, like an N95 disposable mask or half-face respirator with cartridges, should be selected based on the specific contaminants present. Respirators require training and fit testing to ensure proper use.

Protective Clothing

Goggles protect only your eyes, so additional protective clothing like laboratory coats, aprons, gloves, and protective sleeves may be needed based on the materials and work being done. Appropriate protective clothing helps prevent skin contact and contamination of regular clothing. Disposable or washable garments may be selected depending on the application.

Ear Protection

While less common, earmuffs or earplugs may be necessary if there are loud noises that could damage hearing or be distracting. Ear protection, like respiratory and dermal protection, requires an assessment of the specific hazards present to determine proper protective equipment.

By recognizing the limitations of any single piece of protective equipment, appropriate supplemental safety gear can be put in place to help minimize risks to health and safety for those working in laboratory environments. Additional assessment of work activities and potential hazards is always advisable. Comprehensive protection through the use of multiple controls provides the greatest safeguard against injury or illness.

Face Shields for Extra Protection

Face Shields

In addition to lab goggles, a face shield provides an extra layer of protection for your face. Face shields cover your entire face and help shield from splashes and sprays. They can also help prevent exposure to infectious droplets. For the most complete protection, use a face shield in combination with close-fitting goggles.


If you are working with hazardous chemicals or particulates in a lab setting, a respirator will help protect your respiratory system. Respirators, such as N95 masks, filter out airborne particles including large and small particles, bacteria, and viruses. When selecting a respirator, choose one that is specifically approved for your lab application. Proper fit is essential for maximum effectiveness, so make sure you know how to properly don and fit the respirator.

Aprons and Gloves

Aprons and gloves provide an essential barrier between your body and lab materials. Select heavy-duty gloves that are appropriate for the chemicals you are handling. Extend gloves over the sleeves of your lab coat for maximum coverage. Wear an impermeable apron or lab coat and change or decontaminate them frequently.

Earplugs or Earmuffs

If you will be exposed to loud noises in the lab that could damage your hearing, wear ear protection like earplugs or noise-cancelling earmuffs. Foam earplugs that expand to fit your ear canal are inexpensive and effective for most applications. For more heavy-duty needs, earmuffs will cover your entire ear. Wear ear protection whenever noise levels exceed 85 decibels to prevent permanent hearing loss.

Hair and Beard Covers

If you have long hair, facial hair, or loose clothing, consider wearing additional protective gear like hair nets, beard covers, and securing loose sleeves or ties. Any exposed hair or clothing can be a hazard in a lab setting and contaminate your work or catch on equipment. Contain long hair and beards fully under your additional protective equipment.

Using proper protective equipment in combination with your lab goggles will help ensure your health and safety. Evaluate the hazards of your lab work and wear PPE suitable for the level of risk. When in doubt, wear more protection. Your safety is the top priority.

Lab Goggles FAQs: Your Top Questions Answered

For some laboratory procedures, standard goggles may not provide adequate protection. In these situations, face shields can offer an extra layer of protection for your face, eyes, and mucous membranes. Face shields are made of transparent plastic and cover the entire face while still allowing maximum visibility.

When handling hazardous chemicals that could splash or create airborne droplets, face shields should be used in conjunction with proper goggles. They help prevent chemicals from reaching the eyes, nose, and mouth. Face shields also protect against impacts from flying debris. For the best protection, select a face shield that is properly fitted, covers the sides and length of the face, and is resistant to the specific chemicals being used.

In some cases, face shields may be required for certain procedures, especially when there is a high risk of splashing dangerous chemicals. Check with your laboratory's safety guidelines to determine if face shields are mandatory or recommended for your work. It is always best to err on the side of caution when it comes to eye and face protection.

Wearing a face shield in addition to goggles provides protection for more of your face; however, it may reduce peripheral vision or feel uncomfortable for long periods of time. Be very careful when wearing a face shield, as your vision and mobility may be slightly impaired. Remove the face shield immediately if any chemicals come in contact with it or if vision becomes obscured.

Face shields should be properly decontaminated and stored after each use to prevent chemical exposure for the next user. Reusable face shields must be thoroughly cleaned, disinfected if necessary, and fully dried before storage. Disposable face shields should be discarded after one use.

By using face shields in combination with protective eyewear like goggles, you can safeguard yourself against hazards in the laboratory and continue to work confidently. Always put safety first when handling dangerous chemicals to avoid injury.

Roger Sarkis