Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
By Clyde Soles
For the complete story, see GearTrendsÂ® Fitness 2005, p. 104, “Eye Test”
Every year, around 100,000 people receive eye injuries while playing sports; nearly half require medical attention. Outdoor sports such as cycling and climbing require eye protection that will not shatter when struck by a flying object.
There are a confusing number of standards that dictate how much protection is offered by eyewear. The FDA regulates eyewear, including sunglasses, as a medical device and one of the requirements is resistance to impacts. However, performance sport sunglasses go well beyond these minimal levels and are actually shatterproof.
In August 2003, a new impact standard for eyewear The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) published a revised impact standard for eyewear (Z87.1); the old standard was created in 1989. Written by the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), ANSI Z87.1 offers two levels of pass/fail certification.
For the Basic Impact standard, lenses must not shatter when hit with aÂ one inch (25.4 mm) steel ball dropped 50 inches (127 mm). It also must not allow a 1.56 oz. (44.2 g) needle dropped from the same height to penetrate. This is more stringent than the FDA requirements but insufficient for sports where flying objects are a significant hazard.
Eyewear certified to the High Impact standard are subjected to more severe testing. The lenses must stop a one-quarter inch (6.35 mm) steel ball traveling at 150 feet/second (45.7 m/s) â€” that’s over 100 mph and has more than 4 times the energy of the basic test. The lens must also stay in the frame when hit with a 17.6 ounce (500 g) pointed projectile dropped from 50 inches. While this is a voluntary standard, manufacturers will often advertise their lenses pass the high-impact tests.
It’s worth noting that glasses worn for shooting meet even tougher military standards. For MIL-V-43511C, a .22 caliber bullet is fired at 170 m/s (380 mph). And for MIL-PRF-31013, a .15 caliber bullet is fired at 250 m/s (560 mph).
Don’t miss the full story, “Eye Test,” in the GearTrendsÂ® Summer OutdoorÂ 2005 issue. To download the full issue, go to www.geartrends.com/magazines.