On the subject of safety goggles


As azmanam pointed out, Chemjobber’s post about Lab Essentials made it onto the most recent issue of Nature Chemistry–hooray! Well, kind of. One of my comments about comfy eyewears somehow got a mention as well. Now, I didn’t imagine my debut in the Nature publications quite this way. But if I have to be known as the Asian girl with the flat nose, I might as well use this chance to elaborate on the cause that is dear to my heart.

I’ve worn glasses for as long as I could remembered, but my journey to finding a pair to wear in lab has been a rocky one. I must not be alone in this: it’s so hard to find a pair of safety glasses that fits well! My problems are:

  1. The plastic part that is supposed to sit on the bridge of my nose isn’t really long enough to touch it; instead, the goggles sit suspended above my face. I have a flat nose; I’ve learned there are more important things in life to be upset about.
  2. Since the goggles can’t sit on my nose, the bottom edge of the lenses digs into my cheeks for support. I get the most awful imprint on my face and it starts to hurt after a couple hours
  3. Because they are ill-fitted, they fall off all the time when I’m in the middle of doing something

Do I get your attention now, PPE manufacturer? (hint)

When I first started taking chemistry as an undergrad, I was told to fish out a pair of safety goggles from the big box my TA provided. Over the next few years, I had tried on my fair share of safety goggles. Some of them were rocking the retro vibe like this, some others were the more simple style like this, and the others were the nice adjustable length like the one shown above.

The variety was nice. But I never liked any of them. I hated wearing safety goggles/glasses because none of them actually fits me. I don’t know how long it would take PPE companies to figure out that chemistry students with flat nose everywhere (including, but not exclusively, the Asian kids) are resenting wearing goggles!

I think we can agree that safety goggles are among the most important part of personal protection equipments. It’s a must for novice and experienced chemists alike. I would think that fit and comfort are significant factors in designing these because of their proximity to your face. As an undergrad, I didn’t have much of a choice of the types of goggles I could wear, so I just went with whatever that was provided to me. Let me assure you the fun of my chemistry experience was greatly diminished because of the discomfort of wearing one of these.

We’ve always had problems with freshmen (even older students) not wearing their goggles in teaching lab. Aside from laziness and carelessness, I think a big factor of it is comfort. We can promote better safety habit simply by showing students that in the same way we select glove sizes that fit us, it is possible and important to do the same for safety goggles.

And really, we have nitiles gloves in 5 sizes and like 20 different colors; I think it’s possible to add supportive nosepiece to safety goggles.


Note: I currently use a pair of AOS goggles with rubber nosepiece that I am reasonably happy with. It still falls my cheeks sometimes (as the rubber nosepiece is still quite shallow) but is a significant improvement from previous experience.

Note #2:Β  Nature Chemistry–if you need guest writers, you know where to find me. πŸ˜›


  1. Congrats, I’m glad your comment didn’t fall flat.


  2. I have worn glasses for many years, and agree about overgoggles but It is possible to get prescription safety glasses. These would ameliorate your problem Noel. They may not be cheap but here in the UK our employers normally pay.

  3. @Andrews: Yes, I intend to get prescription safety glasses at some point. I guess the point I wanted to make was that you shouldn’t be denied the most proper PPE possible just because you’re not a professional chemist (like people who take chemistry as an elective). Well fitted safety glasses should ideally be cheap and available for everybody.

  4. Amen. I have yet to find a comfy pair of safety glasses that don’t pinch my temples…

  5. I’ve experienced roughly the opposite problem when I did my postdoc in Singapore. I’m a Canadian-born white guy who struggled to find a pair that didn’t stand so far away from my cheeks, because they apparently were all designed with the Asian-person-with-flat-nose in mind. And the Singaporeans were all fond of telling me, no offense, but you White People have such big noses! LOL πŸ˜€

  6. i have a somewhat-related problem: my nose is slightly crooked. not enough to notice, really, unless you’re staring at me…but enough to make glasses and safety glasses sit a little funny. i have a nice pair of uvexes with rubbery sides that are pretty comfortable, but they got lost in the moving shuffle. plus, they still obstruct my peripheral vision πŸ™

    the poorly sized PPE issue isn’t limited to eyewear, though…labcoats pose a similar problem if you’re 5’1 and tiny–i like mine but it’s, uh, a little large…and it’s the smallest size the stockroom carries. gloves are also difficult, but over time i’ve found the bio stockrooms tend to carry XS. i won’t even get into the trouble a person with my tiny hands and small stature has in the glovebox or changing out nitrogen tanks (the large ones that are bigger than i am)…

  7. A whole lot of people I talk to have some kind of fit problems with their goggles. There should really be a variety of choices without breaking the bank to get customized ones.

    @HPCC: how about we’ll trade. You mail me a pair from Singapore and I’ll mail you a pair from my stock room πŸ˜›

  8. Prescription safety glasses are the BEST. I bought a pair from this website: http://rx-safety.com/

    Of course I had to pick the most expensive ones because I thought they were the most aesthetically pleasing, and once I added the anti-scratch coating and picked the most hardcore lens material, it came to about $120 with shipping – but I know there are MUCH less expensive ones on there, I just had to pull out all the stops because it was an investment in my eyes. If I had asked my adviser, I’m sure he would’ve paid for it, actually, but I wanted to truly own them so I forked it over. I’ve never regretted it!!

  9. Speaking of…
    Of course, we’d all want to splurge on fancy Rx lab glasses, with hardcore lens material, anti-scratch, anti-glare, anti-fog, anti-whatever… but, does anyone have experience with the bone-stock plastic lens versions, without all the bells and whistles? Are they that bad?

    If there’s anyone who’s been able to test both the stock ones and fancy ones, was the difference really, slightly, or not at all noticeable?

  10. @Chiraljones: Wearing normal glasses has taught me that polycarbonate lenses are ALWAYS worth the extra money. It’s so much harder to scratch them…so good visibility lasts years longer.

  11. Note #2 received loud and clear…

  12. Haha! As a fellow wretchedly flat-nosed Asian female, I could’ve written a post on that same subject. I would re-post it on TSC with some commentary of my own, but I think the topic strays a bit much from the more serious tone of the blog. Too bad! I’ve always had major issues finding fitting safety goggles.

    Another thing about the I-don’t-have-a-nosebridge issue is proximity to face. When I actually have a pair that sits on my nose without slipping, my eyelashes rub against and smudge them, and facial heat often fogs up them. Sigh. And my mother says that I would be so pretty if I had a Caucasian nose (apparently Asians compare beauty to being non-Asian)… I just want the damn glasses to stay put!

    @HPCC I’d be up for a trade, too. πŸ˜› Perhaps Noel and I should start a company making PPE for Asians & other morphologically challenged” individuals.

  13. @MG: No fair! I was there first with the business idea. πŸ™‚ See the 3rd comment below: http://www.chemistry-blog.com/2009/09/16/lab-essentials/

  14. No need to fight. Perhaps you two should start separate companies and send me free samples. I shall evaluate and decide which company to put my investment in. πŸ˜›

  15. Why fight when we can join forces? πŸ˜€

  16. I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your article; but would also like to share a link of similar website for discount prescription sunglasses with easy to navigate and user friendly GUI, for more information follow link: http://www.prescription-glasses.com/prescription-sunglasses-eyeglasses

  17. haha, look like im not the one complaining on wearing googles.
    when my professor saw me wearing googles with a big gap on my nose, he told me to get a googles which can protect me better. I honestly dont know where to get a good one fit me.
    He also sent me this site and said I am not the one have a problem with googles.but we dont know when the ppe manufacture pay attention to us.

  18. I agree with you that safety goggles are among the most important part of personal protection equipments and choose the safety goggles which suit to your face.

  19. Pingback: Chemistry googles | 2rfutr

  20. mmm, well, we have a factory in china, produces safety goggle. u guys should visit it http://www.ckppe.com.cn
    i can give u a very good price, hehe

    my email: lisa@ckppe99.com

  21. Pestisida Nabati Daun Sirsak says:

    The variety was nice. But I never liked any of them. I hated wearing safety goggles/glasses because none of them actually fits me. I don’t know how long it would take PPE companies to figure out that chemistry students with flat nose everywhere (including, but not exclusively, the Asian kids) are resenting wearing g

  22. Noel,

    I am in the same boat as you. I have tried all types, even prescription safety glasses. The problem, even with prescription safety glasses, is that they don’t make the frames for someone with a small face and features. I actually gave up on my prescription glasses and went to S&W safety glasses that were specifically for women and children. They are the best that I can find. I am now a lab manager at a college and am having the same issue with trying to fit some of our students. I ordered certain styles, because they would fit me. Despite that, I have a student that doesn’t fit any of the styles we offer. I have searched and found nothing so far.

  23. I know this post is a little outdated, but theres plenty of over glasses safety glasses nowadays! They helped me a lot in my chem lab days!

  24. you can get the lab experiments chemistry safety goggles at https://amzn.to/2HJqgNn

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  27. Thanks for posting this blog . I know safety glasses is the most protective safety gadget for our eyes

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