According to the National Center for Health Statistics, over 2 million people each year seek out medical attention for eye injuries, and of those 2 million, an estimated 30,000 of those injuries are firearm-related. Eye injuries can range from minor irritating cases such as dust and debris in the eye to more severe cases that can result in the loss of vision or the loss of an eye.
Regardless of whether the shooting discipline is long-range shooting, bird hunting, tactical shooting or even just plinking targets in the backyard, every shooter relies on their clear, sharp vision to make accurate shots, so protection of the eyes is vital. Here are a few helpful things you need to know when shopping for eye protection.
First, not all eye protection is equal. There are a number of brands and styles to choose from and thankfully, quality shooting glasses are available to fit within anyone’s budget. The most important feature you need to look for when buying shooting glasses is the protection factor. Will the lenses protect the eye in case of a direct impact and will the style or frame of the glasses offer protection from a non-direct side hit? Regular sunglasses do not provide adequate protection. When it comes to protecting eyes, adequate is simply not good enough. Often the plastic or glass lenses found in these street types of glasses fall short on the shooting range and can easily break or shatter on impact, creating even more problems. Additionally, it is worth noting that some shooting ranges will not allow these types of glasses to be used. Instead, look for lenses that are made of tempered, impact-resistant material that meets American National Standards Institute, Occupational Safety and Health Administration or U.S. military standards.
Safe shooting glasses should also protect your eyes from non-direct hits. Pick glasses with wraparound lenses that cover a larger portion of your eye area and side of the eyes. If you have been hit by a spent cartridge or sprayed from a target splash, you understand the potential danger. It not only hurts, it could cause serious damage if it hits you just right. Don’t take that chance. Instead look for shooting glasses with lenses that protect the corner eye area as well.
Shooters who only shoot indoors need not worry about UV protection, but this is a concern for those who shoot outdoors. And for those whose eyes are sensitive to the sun, UV protection not only protects the eyes but also helps eliminate eye fatigue. Thankfully, most quality shooting glasses come with some level of UV protection.
These are just a few things to consider before you start shopping for a pair of quality shooting glasses. The truth is, protecting your eyesight is no laughing matter, and as some folks will tell you, it all can change in the blink of an eye. The fact is that you simply cannot put a price on your vision. And you only get one set of eyes, so protecting them is essential.
What kind of eye protection do you use on the range? Leave a comment below.