Protecting yourself while playing intensive sports is always a good idea. However, some sports and activities carry greater risks than others. For example, pursuits which present specific hazards such as airborne objects and large implements all have the potential to cause you a serious eye injury. Therefore, if you play sports like hockey, lacrosse, tennis or airsoft, it makes perfect sense to employ eye protectors as part of your sport kit. But what should you be looking for from protective eyewear for sports? In many cases, you’ll be able to find specialised sports goggles fairly easily. They are available for you to buy both online as well as in high street stores. However, are goggles and eyewear marketed towards sports users always the best option and do they offer the best value for money? In this article, we will consider an alternative to the protective eyewear that is marketed to the sporting world. We ask if safety eyewear intended for general industry can be a viable and cost-effective alternative to paying hundreds of dollars for comfortable and robust eye protection. Let’s look at the industry z87.1-2015 standard and the sports ASTM F803 standard and see what the differences are. Ultimately, you may find that you don't just save yourself an injury, but money too – if you make the right choice!
What is ANSI z87.1-2015?
ANSI z87.1 is the leading protection standard for industrial safety goggles. It is a safety marking regulated by the American National Standards Institute, or ANSI. International safety equipment often apply for ANSI ratings due to their robust reputation.
Eyewear developed to ANSI z87.1 standards go through rigorous testing, research and design. For more details, see our previous article on the subject here.
These safety goggles and safety glasses are developed and intended for use in industrial or commercial situations. For example, you may wear ANSI-rated goggles if you are working with heavy machinery and are likely to generate wood shavings or dust. ANSI z87.1 protects you against dust dispersal.
No matter what you work with, the z87.1 standard is meticulous. Personal protective equipment in industry is held to the highest of standards and eye protection is one of the highest priority areas. Eyewear with the z87.1 marking will keep you safe across all that you do. Extra protection is found in the advanced rating of z87.1+, which is the next step up
ANSI z87+ - What Difference does that + make?
The main difference between standard z87.1 and z87+ is, ultimately, increased blunt and high velocity impact resistance. Z87+ eyewear will not only have been tested for debris and UV transmission, these goggles will also protect wearers against a variety of impacts, both to the front and to the side.
So are they good for sports?
ANSI z87+ eyewear is perfect for use across various sports. The protection guaranteed by ANSI covers all of the main areas sports people require:
- Think about any sports or activities where you’re at risk of getting hit by a projectile, bat or racquet! From baseball to cricket, badminton to squash, hockey to lacrosse.
- Think about any sport where wind, debris or water could affect your eyesight. From rock climbing to cycling, sailing to windsurfing, motorsports to skydiving and shooting sports to beach volleyball.
Wherever vision is crucially important to sporting performance and safety, properly rated safety eyewear is paramount.
Let’s take a look at sports eyewear standards so we can make a comparison
What about ASTM F803?
Just as ANSI z87.1 and z87+ are industry standards, ASTM F803 is used almost exclusively for sport. Eyewear developed with ASTM F803 is designed to protect against blunt impact. It is a standard for protective eyewear which is tested for optical quality and vision field as well as for strength and resilience.
As with ANSI regulations, ASTM eyewear is subject to high-velocity impact testing. Projectile simulation is often used during development to test durability and resistance.
You can find ASTM eyewear split into four different categories. These are grouped based on style. For example, you can purchase ASTM F803 eyewear with single lenses, while some won’t have lenses at all. Others, meanwhile, may give you partial face coverage.
Naturally, the eyewear you choose will depend on your comfort as well as the sports you play
But how does ASTM F803 generally compare to ANSI z87+? Let’s take a look.
Choosing the Right Eyewear for Sport
It is safe to say that both ANSI and ASTM eyewear are rigorously tested. After all, health and safety are at stake! However, there is nothing to say that sportspeople can’t benefit from industrial eyewear. In fact, there are more than a few reasons why you may consider ANSI ahead of ASTM
ANSI z87+ eyewear receives the same intensity and rigour in testing as ASTM F803. These goggles are tested for blunt force trauma both from the front as well as from the sides. Therefore, they are fantastic at protecting your eyes from stray projectiles, swinging rackets, bats and more. They may not receive the same marketing as sportswear, however, they may actually give you greater resilience.
ANSI z87+ goggles and glasses are generally tested in more categories than ASTM F803. You can therefore rest assured that they will offer you more durability
The difference lies in two main areas but only one of those areas is still valid. These areas are style and price.
ASTM F803 rated eyewear can be very expensive! These goggles and eyewear systems price much higher than their industrial counterparts. This is as a result of branding and marketing - they tell you that their glasses are superior and ask you to pay more
Branded sports glasses are as much a fashion item as much as they are a functional piece of kit. Lots of people opt to wear sports eyewear during leisure activities in order to look good and feel good. Paying more for a brand name is a strange phenomenon but it is a common one.
ANSI rated industrial glasses are often quite cheap with even the premium products priced significantly lower than the mid-range sports versions.
Looking good is important, let’s not try to pretend otherwise. Very few people would wear something that will make them look odd and draw critical comments or ridicule when they’re trying to perform in their chosen sport. Especially when cool alternatives are available.
It is a long standing and common misconception that industry safety glasses are pure function with no style. Chunky, awkward, uncomfortable. All the things you want to avoid in sportswear.
Modern industry safety glasses are barely recognizable from the glasses and goggles of old. Made from strong and lightweight materials they are, in some cases indistinguishable from the top sporting brands.
See The ToolFreak Reevo's an ANSI z87+ pair of safety glasses built to the highest industrial standards but seen increasingly protecting the faces of cyclists, rock climbers and runners.
See The ToolFreak Rebel's also rated to z87+ and polarized.
As you can see from the above examples, the idea that industry glasses lack style is outdated. You no longer have to pay sports brand companies hundreds of dollars for the perfect mix of protection and good looks, what you need is available at an affordable price.