Fogging lenses are something workers have had to deal with long before the COVID-19 pandemic. With the increasing need for anti-fog safety glasses, we hope to answer some of the most common questions about this technology.
Fogging eyewear is a huge inconvenience and safety risk to workers. In fact, fogging lenses are the number one reason workers remove or do not wear safety eyewear.
Fog within the lens is the result of water vapor that has condensed into fine droplets and collected on the lens. This is typically because the lens is cooler than the air around it.
While not a direct cause, improperly cleaning anti-fog safety glasses can also increase fog risk as water and soap can rub off some anti-fog coatings. We recommend all Pyramex anti-fog safety eyewear be cleaned with a micro-fiber cloth or Pyramex lens cleaning wipe.
In the 1960s, NASA was worried that astronauts would be put at risk due to fogging visors when exploring space. During a spacewalk, Astronaut Eugene A. Cernan tested their newly invented anti-fog technology and found that his helmet visor fogged in reaction to the atmosphere except for where an anti-fog solution had been applied.
Anti-fog is available in sprays, gels, wipes, and coatings applied during the manufacturing process. The latter solution is considered one of the most effective and long term for today’s workers.
The latest anti-fog technology manipulates moisture on the surface of the lens through lens coating agents. There are several types of products that can be used such as surfactants, detergents, polymers, hydrogels, colloids, and nanoparticles.
Hydrophobic means “water fearing.” This type of coating repels water causing it to run off the lens. It is best for high moisture environments and those where workers are regularly transitioning between environments with varying temperatures.
Hydrophilic means “water loving.” With this type, water is absorbed by the coating. Eyewear featuring this anti-fog is best for moderate moisture environments. Both coating types can adequately serve various anti-fog needs.
Coatings are added to anti-fog safety glasses in a variety of ways, most commonly through dip and flow processes. The decades-old dip process enables agents to adhere to both sides of the lens as they are dipped in the coating. The flow process on the other hand coats one side at a time which allows for different agents to be cured on each side if desired. Other methods for lens coating include spray and spin processes which are rarely used for anti-fog safety glasses.
Last year, the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) created a US standard (ANSI Z87.1-2020) for anti-fog safety glasses. The standard mandates that eyewear can only be classified and marked as anti-fog if lenses remain fog-free for at least eight seconds. Having an ANSI standard means that US workers and safety coordinators can purchase anti-fog safety glasses knowing that they are getting a quality, tested product. Approved eyewear will be designated by an “X” on the lens.
At Pyramex, we have two types of premium anti-fog eyewear: H2X and H2MAX. Both provide workers with advanced anti-fogging technology on their lenses. H2MAX eyewear goes above and beyond the ANSI standard to give workers the highest quality anti-fog protection.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health estimates that there are an average of 2,000 job-related eye injuries every day. For the worker, the cost is more than just injury and the potential impairment or loss of vision. They also may incur costs related to medical bills, legal fees, and the potential loss of future income.
The US Bureau of Labor estimates that eye injuries cost employers $467 million per year in direct costs. The amount of indirect costs such as legal fees, recruiting and training new workers, etc. is close to $934 million annually according to NIOSH.
Even when injury doesn’t occur, fogging eyewear can still cost companies. Workers removing their eyewear can lead to big fines for businesses found non-compliant with safety standards. When workers do wear safety glasses, time and productivity can be lost when they have to take time away from their job – sometimes even to go to a safer environment – in order to wipe the fog off their lenses.
There are many industries where workers benefit from anti-fog safety glasses. At present there is a growing demand in the healthcare industry as medical workers wear full PPE to treat patients and protect themselves from COVID-19. Outside of the healthcare sector, there are several industries who need anti-fog eyewear in COVID and non-COVID times.
Anti-fog technology continues to see innovations in order to better serve the workforce. Pyramex is working to expand our anti-fog options and create a diverse selection of eyewear to fit workers in any and every environment and industry.