A woman puts safety goggles on over her eyeglasses

Are Lab Goggles Necessary for People Who Are Blind?

Find out why everyone needs to wear safety goggles in the science lab.

By By Caroline Karbowski, Research Assistant: Department of Biological Chemistry and Pharmacology at Ohio State University

Caroline explores misconceptions about the need for people who are blind to wear lab goggles and then shares options to wear prescription lenses with goggles. She suggests that the lab environment be evaluated when deciding what types of goggles should be worn.


Do blind people need to wear lab safety goggles?

You might have seen this poster from Flynn Scientific. It’s a picture of a woman with a white cane wearing sunglasses the text reads, “Carol never wore her safety goggles now she doesn’t need them.”

Poster of a woman walking with a cane with the text "Carol never wore her safety goggles.  Now she doesn't need them." Flinn Scientific Inc.
Problematic poster of a woman walking with a cane with the text “Carol never wore her safety goggles. Now she doesn’t need them.”

This poster is problematic for two reasons. One, it implies that blind people don’t need safety goggles and two, it implies that Carol used to be a scientist when she was sighted, but after she went blind she now can’t be a scientist or at least has no use to wear safety goggles. And this is problematic because blind people of course can be scientists and they need to wear safety goggles just like sighted people. Even if someone is totally blind, you need to wear safety goggles so that way chemicals don’t enter your eye and go to other parts of your body. It’s still going to hurt if chemicals go into your eye, so it’s very crucial that all people wear safety goggles while in the lab.

Options for Wearing Goggles While in the Lab

Let’s go through some options to wear goggles while in the lab, if you also want to wear your prescription glasses. Caroline’s going to demo her two goggle options that she has used while they’re being described.

One option is wearing your prescription glasses and then putting your goggles over on top of them. I often have worn Uvex Stealth goggles and these have rubber that go all around the perimeter of your eyes on your face and, while the seal isn’t completely tight because I have the glasses on, it does provide some protection so depending on your lab safety and the conditions that you’re in, you can evaluate if breaking that seal is hurting your safety or not.

The other option is some goggles are actually meant to be put over your glasses. I’ve often used radiation-level glasses. These are also sometimes called lead glasses. There’s also other goggles that aren’t radiation-level, but they have extra space that can accommodate your lens frame.

Using Prescription Lens Carriers Inside Goggles

So, what if you want to wear the Uvex Stealth goggles and you need to have protection all around your face? Well, with lens carriers you can put in your own prescription lenses and then insert them inside your goggles.

A prescription lens insert is rubbery and it just includes the rim and the bridge part of the frame. There’s no temples, which are the pieces that go over your ears, so this allows the rubbery part to stay completely to your face. You can get an old pair of glasses, pop out the lens, put them in the lens insert, and secure them with a hair dryer or a heat embosser and then you snap in the carrier into the goggles and this is great. The only problem is that these lenses are only going to be used for your goggles, so you have to have a second pair of glasses.

Prescription Lens Carriers Inside Goggles
Prescription lens carriers inside goggles

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