While many good reasons exist for wearing tinted safety glasses at work — when working for long periods in bright sunshine and during high-intensity light tasks such as welding, for example — there are some situations where NOT wearing tinted lenses is safer.
Night Driving. Unfortunately, no perfectly safe option exists for those wanting to reduce the glare of oncoming headlights when driving at night. In “Shedding Some Light on Night Driving Challenges and Solutions, Part 2,” Michael Eldridge from Safety Glasses USA says,
“The bottom line remains that having perfect vision for driving at dawn, dusk or nighttime simply isn’t possible. The first approach should be to remove any obstacles to clear vision… Should you choose to experiment with night driving glasses or even with various lens tints, know clearly that eye experts warn against this as a safe option.”
Any tinted lenses used during low-light conditions will reduce visibility even further because while they darken oncoming headlights, they also darken total surroundings as well making driving less-than safe. Instead, do what you can to eliminate any sources of night vision problems as discussed in “Shedding some Light on Night Driving Challenges, Part 1” before deciding on other options, such as trying tinted lenses.
Low-Light Work Conditions. When working in shaded areas, at dusk, indoors and at night, workers should wear clear lenses to allow proper lighting for the job at hand. All too often, though, workers wear tinted lenses all day, every day, instead of making the switch when necessary.
“For up-close work, working in a trench, tight proximity work, using power tools, etc. You should be wearing clear lenses. It’s not a fashion show, it’s a work site,” says John Meola, safety consultant with Invincia Insurance Solutions in Chesterfield, VA in “Ten Tips to Prevent the Construction-Accident High Season.“
Fortunately, Safety glasses with interchangeable lenses provide the perfect solution for workers who may spend a great deal of time working in the sun but who also have tasks to perform in low-light conditions.
Constantly-Changing Situations. Some work situations require moving from an outside to an inside environment and back again regularly. Those few moments with a dramatic change in lighting can produce unsafe conditions without the proper safety eyewear. The best options in these situations are NOT transition lenses, however, as many believe.
“Photochromic lenses should rarely be authorized since the rate of tint change is too slow to allow movement into and out of buildings where eye injury hazards exist.” (Safety Glasses and Tinted Lenses)
For sure, individuals exposed to sunlight while working should protect their eyes with tinted safety sunglasses having 99.9% UV protection. But often, situations require using a clear lens to allow for better visibility and thus a safer working situation. Take time to understand when tinted lenses are not the best option and to find a suitable alternative for your specific situation.