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Wraparound vs. Traditional Safety Frames

Written by Andrew Le, MD

UpdatedMarch 20, 2024

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, thousands of employees suffer eye injuries every year, often due to inadequate eye protection. These injuries can result in blindness and cost over $300 million annually in lost production time, medical expenses, and worker compensation. It's reported that 70% of eye injuries are caused by falling objects or sparks, with 20% resulting from contact with chemicals.

Protecting your eyesight is vital in hazardous work and recreational environments. Among the protective eyewear options available, wraparound and traditional safety glasses each offer unique advantages and drawbacks, making them suitable for different needs and use cases.

In this article, we'll analyze these differences regarding vision quality, scope of protection, ergonomics, customizability, and pricing. Whether you desire maximum side protection, integration with corrective lenses, or flexible style options, understanding how these safety glasses diverge in practical applications can guide your selection of the right eye protection equipment.

🔑 Key Takeaways

  • Wraparound safety glasses feature a semi-circular frame that wraps around the head for comprehensive side coverage and protection. Traditional safety frames resemble regular eyeglasses but have side shields to help block particles.
  • Wraparound frames are gaining popularity due to their sleek, modern look and the enhanced protection they provide, especially from side impacts. Traditional frames offer dependable protection but less peripheral coverage.
  • Wraparound frames provide an extended range of vision and situational awareness, which is advantageous in work and sports environments. Traditional frames can accommodate prescription lenses for those needing vision correction.
  • Wraparound frames tend to fit more snugly and are less likely to slip off during vigorous motions. Traditional frames with detachable shields may compromise safety if the shields become misplaced.
  • Wraparound lenses can cause visual distortion or discomfort, especially for those unfamiliar with curved lenses or with high prescription needs. Traditional frames offer more lens choices, such as clear, tinted, and polarized.
  • While wraparound frames come in sporty, modern styles, they may not suit all facial shapes or aesthetic preferences. Traditional frames have a more limited style selection.
  • Wraparound prescription safety glasses can cost $100-$200 or more, influenced by specialty coatings and prescription complexity. Basic traditional safety frames tend to cost $15-$25.
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1. Design Feature

When it comes to eye protection, the design of safety glasses plays a crucial role in their effectiveness. Let's explore how wraparound and traditional safety frames differ in design and how they impact their performance.

Wraparound Safety Frames

Source: Rowley Company

Wraparound safety glasses feature a semi-circular frame that wraps securely around the head, offering side coverage. This design is gaining popularity due to its sleek, fashionable look and the comprehensive protection it provides.

These glasses typically use materials like polycarbonate or Trivex for the lenses, known for their impact resistance. The frame materials vary but are designed to be sturdy and solid, often featuring padded nosepieces and arm tips for comfort.

The wraparound design provides enhanced protection by covering more of the face, particularly the sides, reducing the risk of foreign objects or particles entering the eyes. Some models also come with integrated features like LEDs for lighting work areas.

Traditional Safety Frames

Source: Safe Vision

Traditional safety frames resemble regular eyeglasses but are built to withstand impacts more strongly. They often come with side shields to prevent particles from entering the eyes from the sides.

Like wraparound frames, traditional safety frames can also accommodate lenses made from polycarbonate or Trivex. The frame can be made from various durable materials and is designed to fit like regular eyeglasses.

Pro Tip

Choosing lightweight materials for thicker lenses not only improves comfort but also enhances durability. Explore some lightweight options, such as Trivex, which provides clearer peripheral vision, reduced chromatic aberration, and sharper central optics while slightly lighter than polycarbonate.

While they provide reliable eye protection, traditional safety frames have limited peripheral coverage compared to wraparound frames. The side shields added to these frames help reduce the risk of eye injury from side impacts.

2. Advantages

Each type of safety frame brings its unique advantages to the table. Let's take a closer look at what makes wraparound and traditional safety frames stand out in terms of benefits.

Wraparound Safety Frames

  • The unique design of wraparound safety glasses provides comprehensive coverage around the eyes. This design significantly minimizes the risk of harmful elements like dust, debris, or chemicals entering the eyes, especially from the sides.
  • Wraparound frames offer an extended range of vision, reducing blind spots. This is particularly advantageous in environments where situational awareness and peripheral vision are critical, such as sports or work settings.
  • Modern wraparound safety glasses come in various stylish designs, making them more appealing for everyday use. Their sporty appearance allows a seamless transition from work environments to recreational activities.
  • Many wraparound safety glasses are designed with lightweight materials, reducing the strain on the face and nose, which is essential for comfort during prolonged use.
  • Wraparound frames are designed to fit snugly around the head, reducing the likelihood of the glasses slipping off during vigorous activities or work.
  • These frames are beneficial in a wide range of activities and professions where eye protection is crucial, including carpentry, auto mechanics, construction, and various outdoor sports.

Traditional Safety Frames

  • Traditional safety frames are built to withstand significant impacts, providing dependable eye protection in various hazardous environments.
  • They offer multiple lens choices like clear, tinted, and polarized lenses, catering to different lighting conditions and specific job requirements.
  • Resembling regular eyeglasses, traditional safety frames are preferred by those accustomed to the conventional eyewear look, making them suitable for professional and casual settings.
  • The addition of side shields on traditional safety frames helps block particles from entering the eyes from the sides, which is vital in environments with high exposure to dust, UV radiation, and airborne contaminants.
  • Traditional safety frames can be customized with prescription lenses, making them a practical choice for individuals who require vision correction.
  • These frames are ideal for industries like welding, mining, and manufacturing, where robust eye protection is necessary.

3. Disadvantages

While both wraparound and traditional safety frames have their merits, they also have drawbacks. Understanding these disadvantages can help you make a more informed choice based on your needs and circumstances.

Wraparound Safety Frames

  • Individuals with strong prescriptions may face challenges with wraparound frames. Curved lenses can distort vision for those with high prescription strengths, mainly if the prescription includes high cylinder values or if the total prescription power is outside the range of -4.00 to +3.00. People with prescriptions that are either too high or too low may find it difficult or impossible to adapt to the curvature of wraparound lenses​​.
  • The curvature of wraparound lenses can sometimes cause visual distortion, especially at the periphery. This can be disorienting or uncomfortable, particularly for those unfamiliar with curved lenses.
  • While wraparound frames are often considered sporty and modern, they may not suit everyone's style preferences or face shapes. Some individuals may find them too bulky or incompatible with their desired aesthetic.

Traditional Safety Frames

  • Traditional safety frames, even with side shields, may not offer the same peripheral protection as wraparound frames. This can be a significant drawback in environments where side protection is crucial.
  • Adding side shields on traditional safety frames can sometimes be less comfortable, especially over long periods. They might not fit as securely as wraparound frames, potentially leading to slippage or discomfort.
  • Traditional safety frames might have a more limited range of styles than wraparound frames. This can disadvantage those looking for more fashionable or modern-looking safety eyewear.
  • In some traditional safety frames, detachable side shields can be misplaced or forgotten, potentially compromising safety.

4. Cost Consideration

Cost is an essential factor to consider when choosing between wraparound and traditional safety frames. Let's examine the price ranges and factors influencing the cost of these types of safety glasses.

Wraparound Safety Frames

The price of wraparound safety frames varies significantly based on brand, material, design, and the need for prescription lenses. Basic wraparound safety glasses without prescription lenses typically cost around $20 to $30.

However, including prescription lenses and additional features such as anti-fog or anti-scratch coatings can substantially raise the price. High-quality wraparound safety glasses equipped with prescription lenses and extra coatings may cost between $100 to over $200, depending on the prescription's complexity and the specific features selected.

SafeVision offers an array of wraparound prescription safety glasses suitable for various industries. For example, their Pentax Eagle model is currently priced at $34.99, down from $49.99, and the Pentax V1000-6 model is available at $51.09, reduced from $72.99.

RX Safety USA also has a selection of wraparound prescription safety glasses, with prices beginning at $9.99. They provide a range of frame materials, including acetate, metal, plastic, and TR90, and offer lens options such as bifocal, progressive, and single vision.

Traditional Safety Frames

The price of traditional safety frames varies based on several factors, including material, design, brand, and the inclusion of prescription lenses. Basic traditional safety frames with standard lenses and side shields typically cost $15 to $25.

When these frames are fitted with prescription lenses and additional features such as tinting or specialized coatings, the prices can range from $80 to $150 or more. The final cost is influenced by factors like the strength of the prescription, the type of lens material used, and any extra features included.

The Home Depot offers a range of safety glasses, including models with wraparound features. For advanced options, it can cost up to $150. These safety glasses have various features, including UV protection, anti-scratch lenses, anti-fog capabilities, and more.

RX-Safety provides prescription safety glasses that comply with ANSI Z87.1+ high-velocity safety standards. Their frames start at a low price of $15.00, and they offer a wide selection of frame styles, lens materials, coatings, and special accessories.

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Final Words

When selecting protective eyewear, determining whether wraparound or traditional safety frames better suit your needs depends on assessing priorities like coverage area, vision quality, style, customization, and cost.

If comprehensive protection from debris entering from all angles, including the sides, is vital, wraparound glasses provide unmatched peripheral coverage. However, the curved lenses can distort sight clarity for some prescriptions.

Those requiring prescription lenses integrated may favor traditional frames for their easier lens compatibility, albeit with slightly less side protection.

Regarding style and fit, wraparounds come in sporty designs tailored for active jobs, while traditional frames replicate conventional glasses with added durability.

Ultimately, wraparound models shine, providing wide coverage suited for high-risk conditions. Traditional versions accommodate corrective lenses better while supplying dependable, if not complete, protection. When investing in protective eyewear, weighing personal factors and workplace hazards can steer you toward the right balance of safety, visual acuity, and comfort.

FAQs on Wraparound vs. Traditional Safety Frames

Are lens options the same between wraparound and traditional safety eyewear?

Most frame manufacturers offer the same lens choices, including clear and tinted lenses, regardless of the frame style. However, some lens shapes and sizes may only be available for certain frame styles.

Do wraparound safety frames interfere with peripheral vision?

Quality wraparound frames are designed not to obstruct or distort peripheral vision. The lens shape and curve should provide clear views to the side while protecting the eyes.

Do wraparound safety glasses fog up more easily?

Wraparound frames conform tightly to the face, which can sometimes cause more fogging issues. However, many are now designed with anti-fog lens coatings or ventilation to help prevent fogging.

What jobs or activities are wraparound safety glasses best suited for?

Wraparounds are ideal for construction, manufacturing, hazard cleanup, landscaping, and other tasks with a risk of side intrusion by debris. Their secure fit also suits high-impact sports. Traditional glasses are okay for basic safety needs.