Choosing the Right 3M Protective Eyewear

According to the CDC circa 2012, 2,000 workers in the United States were subject to an eye injury on the job requiring time off of work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that three out of five injured workers weren’t wearing eye protection and of the workers who were wearing protection, 40% of those were wearing the wrong kind of eyewear.

All those numbers add up to a lot of preventable eye injuries.

Using the correct eye protection is the key to being able to effectively prevent injury to the eye and the U.S. Eye institute believes that up to 90% of eye injuries could be lessened or avoided entirely with the correct safety eyewear. There are many types of eyewear made by many different companies and it may be a bit overwhelming to know which eyewear is meant for which job. Narrowing it down some, here at Haus of Tools we carry several brands of basic protective eyewear and we just expanded our selection to include the many types of protective eyewear made by 3M. You’ll be able to choose the right eyewear for you based on features, comfort and most important, safety certification by internationally recognized groups.

Garrett Morgan safety hood with safety glasses

For almost a century, 3M has provided PPE for your eyes and this probably makes them one of the first to find a practical application for safety glass. The invention of safety glasses as PPE goes back to 1880 with P. Johnson’s “eye protector,” however, actual hard-to-break safety glass wasn’t invented until the Frenchman Edouard Benedictus had a lab accident with a piece of glassware in 1903. While the applications for safety glass were obvious to Benedictus, safety glass didn’t really go anywhere until 1914 when the great American innovator, Garrett Morgan, used the first “safety glass” in the eye-holes of the gas mask/fire hood that he had invented. This would eventually lead to actual safety glasses being made. Given that at present it’s 2021 and a century ago it was the 1920s, 3M would have had to have been one of the first to take advantage of this new technology to make some of the earliest safety glasses. With a century of experience making safety glasses, their insights have led to many styles of protective eyewear that can be suitable for many types of jobs.

From a high vantage point, they can be broken down into several categories, here are a few:  Premium, Value, and Economy. Each of those groups may also have the option to come in reading lenses, so be sure to look for that on specific glasses if that’s a needed feature.

Premium

In the Premium category, there are several styles of safety glasses available. 3M’s Solus series of protective eyewear features a number of benefits. First, select models of the Solus glasses are one of many models to feature a removable gasket which helps create a tight seal around your eyes thus protecting you from the dirt and debris that could successfully defy the odds and survive the Death Star trench run around the safety glasses directly to your eye. If there’s an additional barrier in the form of a gasket, that bad boy is not getting through. The Solus series also features adjustable ratchet temples which help you get the position that’s just right for the contours of your face and the placement of your eyes. You can also get the Solus glasses with 3M Scotchgard anti-fog coating. 

3M Virtua CCS

When it comes to different varieties, 3M Solus has several different models available with different features. The Solus 1000 series comes with a minimum of polycarbonate lenses that are available with different color tints and block 99.9% of UVA and UVB rays. They’re customizable in other ways as well with addable and removable features They also meet the impact requirements for ANSI Z87.1-2020 safety standards. Solus glasses also feature padding in the nose and temple areas for added comfort making it easier to wear them for long periods, which of course means you’ll be more inclined to wear them and thus prevent injury. Beyond the basic style, there are numerous ways to customize them.

The Solus 2000 series adds the ratchet adjustment at the temple, whereas the 1000 series does not. The lenses in the 2000 series absorb the same amount of UVA and UVB light, but meet the ANSI Z87.1-2015 standard for impact rating. The lenses can also come in an optional gray IR lens for better recognition of colors when welding. Add-on features include anti-scratch and anti-fog coatings, several different color lenses and an optional foam gasket for added protection.

Also in the Premium level is 3M’s SecureFit 600 series of protective eyewear. Many of the features overlap with the Solus series (ANSI Z87.1-2015 impact rating, gasket, lens colors, protective coatings, etc.) but they add Pressure Diffusion Temple (PDT) technology for a secure and comfortable fit. The SecureFit 600’s also come with optional reader lenses and lenses in different colors.  

The last of the 3M Premium Protective Eyewear series is the Smart Lens which are typically sold only for industrial use. Again, it shares features with the other models, however there are some different features of note. First, they feature curved temples to relieve pressure in that sensitive spot and instead transfer that pressure to the back of the head which is less sensitive. They also feature U6 polycarbonate lenses that absorb 99.9% of UVA, UVB and UVC rays. Lastly, they are impact rated for ANSI-ISEA Z87.1 Standard.

Value

The next series of 3M Safety Glasses is the Value series. Value, as you would expect, still offer great protection to meet your needs, but are slightly more affordable. There are quite a few options to choose from to get both function and savings.

3M BX safety glasses

3M’s BX protective eyewear feature pretty standard protection with 99.9% absorption of UV rays and they meet the requirements of CSA Z94.3-2007. In addition, they are high impact rated to meet ANSI Z87.1-2003. The BX also carry some comfort features such as an adjustable length temple and the ability to change the angle of the lens. This series is also available in reader lenses as well. The Privo series, and the Metaliks series also provides many of the same features in different styles and with minor different features so if you want great features with a different aesthetic sense, those are your go-to options.

For something with additional features, 3M’s Virtua CCS glasses bring the perfect balance between features and value. It comes with a removable foam gasket to block debris and the gasket is vented which prevents fogging of the lenses. Extra anti-fogging is made possible with specially coated polycarbonate lenses. Lastly, the CCS actually stands for “corded earplug control system” which is great if you need earplugs in your workplace. The glasses keep them tethered to your glasses so they don’t get lost and so they don’t get dirty in your pockets and better, keeps your pockets from getting dirty. The CCS keeps your earplugs attached, untangled and ready to use.

Also in the Value section, there is another SecureFit model, the SecureFit 400 series. This series is impact resistant (ANSI Z87.1, CSA Z94.3 and AS/NZS 1337) and filters 99.9% of UV rays and features a flat padded temple, comfortable nose pads, and a tough light design. You can wear them all day and barely realize it! Additionally, lenses are anti-fog and scratch resistant and come in a variety of colors and with various extra features.

The last series in this category is the Nuvo. Nuvo safety glasses have an older “classic” look for those who like retro style. Added protection is provided by side shields and brow bar. Polycarbonate lenses come in clear or dark and absorb UV rays while also protecting against impact. The Nuvo glasses are great for projects like drilling, grinding, sanding, sawing, chiseling and more.

With the Value series of 3M safety glasses, you get some great options for safety glasses that have both function and style and you get them at a great price.

Economy

3M Virtua AP safety glasses

The last set of 3M Safety Glasses to look at is the Economy class and while that may not sound that impressive, these are solid and dependable glasses that will protect you, just at a more reasonable price and without as many bells and whistles. Sadly, style may need to be sacrificed for function and price. The bulk of the glasses in this category are from the Virtua family. The Virtua Sport and the Virtua Sport CCS both of which feature impact resistant polycarbonate lenses that absorb UV rays and both are modeled after your typical sport eyewear for maximum comfort and more importantly, style. The wrap around design also adds protection to the sides of your eye. The Virtua Sport CCS is also compatible with a removable gasket for added protection. Sport CCS comes in clear or dark lenses and Virtua Sport comes in various colors

Three more Virtua styles are also available, choose from Virtua AP, Virtua V6X and finally the standard Virtua. What sets these Virtua’s apart from one another? The Virtua AP has many features, notably various lens tints that are intended to be task specific. The polycarbonate lenses also absorb UV rays and meet CSA Z94.3-2007 and ANSI Z87.1-2010 standards for impact.

The Virtua V6X come in standard clear or dark lenses and come with anti-fog properties or hard coat and meet the ANSI Z87.1-2010 standards for impact. They also absorb UVA and UVB rays. They’re about as basic as it gets for eye protection. The last of the Virtua glasses offer protection against UV radiation and are available with multiple lens colors and protective coatings.

Lastly are the SecureFit 200 series. This series features slotted ribs on the temples to help equalize pressure and help distribute the pressure to less sensitive areas of the head. The SecureFit 200 lenses are made of U6 rated polycarbonate that filter nearly all UVA, UVB and UVC rays and provide an impact rating compliant with ANSI-ISEA Z87.1 standards.

In short, value give you basic protections and comfort at a very low price!

Wrapping Up

With this many options for eyewear it can be a tad overwhelming. To help you choose the right glasses for your job you’ll want to check these glasses against what’s required. Will you be working outside in the sun or with machines that give out UV rays? Most of the glasses protect against UV rays. Does your job require a specific ANSI or CSA rating? Check your job requirements against the ratings on the glasses. Do you work with a lot of small flying debris? Perhaps something with a gasket is what you need.

By finding the correct safety glasses and getting a set or two that’s comfortable, you’ll be more likely to wear them and in doing so you’ll hopefully avoid becoming another workplace eye injury statistic. Grab some 3M safety glasses today!


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