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How ANSI Standards for Glasses Are Setting Industry Benchmarks

Posted by Zenobia Chan on 3 May 2024

Navigating the landscape of eye and face protection, ANSI standards serve as a cornerstone for eyewear safety, quality, and innovation. From the workplace to everyday life, these guidelines are important in guiding consumers and manufacturers toward choices that prioritise eye health and safety.


What are ANSI Standards?

ANSI is crucial in developing consensus standards across the United States, ensuring eyewear products meet the highest quality, safety, and efficiency levels. This role is essential in the eyewear industry, where precision and reliability can mean the difference between safeguarding and jeopardising one’s sight. By standardising the requirements for eyewear, ANSI enhances consumer and workplace safety and fosters innovation and consistency in eyewear design and functionality. These standards are instrumental in guiding manufacturers toward producing eyewear that effectively protects against various hazards.

Does my Eyewear Need to Meet ANSI Standards?

No federal law mandates that all eyewear products must meet ANSI standards. However, compliance with ANSI standards is highly regarded and often expected in safety-critical environments. For instance, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates that workplace safety eyewear meet ANSI Z87.1 standards to ensure adequate protection against job-related hazards. Compliance with ANSI standards is not mandated by law for sunglasses and non-prescription lenses. Meeting these standards can enhance the product's quality and safety profile, making it more attractive to consumers.

Among these, the ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2020 standard is renowned for its comprehensive approach to eye and face protection in hazardous work settings, underscoring its vital role in worker safety. The ANSI Z80.3 and ANSI Z80.31 standards extend this rigour to consumer eyewear, including sunglasses and reading glasses. By setting these benchmarks, ANSI standards for glasses provide a foundation for protecting eyesight across occupational and everyday contexts.

The Scope and Importance of ANSI Z87.1 Safety Glasses

The ANSI Z87.1-2020 standard meticulously defines the safety requirements for eye and face protection. Setting criteria for design, testing, and usage ensures that workers are shielded from hazards like impact, liquid splashes, and non-ionising radiation—common in machinery operations, welding, chemical handling, and more.

The standard's marking specifications serve as a clear indicator of compliance, aiding in selecting and maintaining protective eyewear. While addressing a broad spectrum of occupational hazards, ANSI Z87.1-2020 also clearly outlines its limits, noting exclusions such as bloodborne pathogens and high-energy radiation, ensuring focused and adequate protection in the workplace.

Understanding ANSI Z87.1-2020 Markings: What Do They Mean?


The ANSI Z87.1-2020 standard uses specific markings on eyewear to indicate compliance and the type of protection provided. These markings help users select the right protective eyewear for specific hazards encountered in the workplace. Here’s a guide to understanding what each marking means:




Basic indication of compliance with the ANSI Z87.1-2020 standard.


Prescription safety eyewear.


Enhanced coverage.


Certified impact protection.


Prescription eyewear with certified impact protection.


Relaxed optical level, suitable for certain professions where stringent optics are not required.

W shade (e.g., W2.0, W3.0, W5.0)

Specifies the shade level for welding filters, indicating different levels of light filtration.

U scale number (e.g., U6)

Indicates the level of UV protection provided by the lens.

R scale number (e.g., R3)

Denotes the level of infrared (IR) radiation protection.

L scale number (e.g., L5)

Marks the level of visible light filtration.


Variable tilt lens, adjustable for different viewing angles.


Special purpose lenses, designed for specific optical needs.


Anti-fog lenses that meet defined anti-fogging performance criteria.


Suitable for protection against splashes and droplets.


Designed to protect against dust.


Protects against fine dust.

Understanding ANSI Z80.3 for Sunglasses and Sun Lenses

The ANSI Z80.3 standard contains many test categories to safeguard your eyes while enhancing your vision. The following table breaks down the critical aspects of the standard, helping you understand the various test categories, and some of the key aspects to pass the requirements for sunglasses and sun lenses.

Test Category

Key Aspects to Pass

UV Radiation Protection

  • Lenses must ensure effective UV blockage.
  • Sunglasses must block a significant amount of UVA (315-380 nm) and UVB (280-315 nm) radiation. (Source)

Traffic Signal Recognition

  • Lens tinting should not affect visibility of traffic signals.
  • Maintain color recognition capabilities, considering the color-deficient population (~8% of males, <3% of females).

Impact Resistance

  • Must pass the 'drop-ball' test: a 5/8 inch steel ball weighing approx. 15.87 g dropped from 50 inches must not cause the lens to fracture, chip, or crack. (Source) 


  • Materials must be nonflammable as defined by the Federal Hazardous Substances Act.
  • Meeting flammable solids requirements of 15 USC 1261~1, 1263 and 16 CFR 1500.44. (Source)


  • Materials must be non-toxic, non-irritating, and unlikely to cause allergic reactions.
  • Compliance with ISO 10993 for biological evaluation is considered acceptable. (Source)

Optical Properties

  • Comply with standards like ISO 14889 and ISO 8980-3 for refractive and transmittance properties.
  • Traffic signal recognition provisions are designed considering color-deficient individuals. (Source 1) (Source 2)

How You Can Test for ANSI Z80.31 in Reading Glasses

ANSI Z80.31 sets rigorous specifications for over-the-counter reading glasses, emphasising the optical performance required for effective vision correction and integrating stringent safety and quality controls. Below are some major testing items within ANSI Z80.31 for glasses frames are:

Test Category

How can it be tested?

Dimensional Tolerances

  • Lens thickness, frame width, and other critical dimensions are measured using precise measuring tools like callipers or micrometers.
  • Automated systems are used to assess lens curvature and ensure uniformity across products.

Resistance to Perspiration

  • Exposing the glasses to simulated sweat under controlled conditions, assessing if frames and lenses undergo corrosion, discolouration, and material degradation

Structure and Resistance to Ignition

  • Exposing glasses to a predefined flame, observing how the materials react, including any changes in form, ignition, or how quickly they self-extinguish after removal from the flame source. 


The major testing items within ANSI Z80.31 for glasses lenses are:

Test Category

How can it be tested?


  • Using spectrometers to measure the percentage of light transmitted through the lenses at various wavelengths. The test assesses the lenses' optical clarity and effectiveness in transmitting light.

Optical Power

  • Lensometers are used to measure the diopter strength and the refractive power of the glasses. Optical power testing is crucial to ensure the lenses provide the correct magnification promised on the label.

Resistance to Radiation

  • UV chambers expose the glasses to high-intensity UV radiation for extended periods in a controlled environment. Long-term exposure to sunlight tests for potential material degradation, colour stability issues, or changes in optical properties. 


Adherence to ANSI standards underscores a fundamental commitment to safety, quality, and innovation within the eyewear industry. These standards collectively enhance workplace safety, protect consumers from UV and impact hazards, and ensure that eyewear aids vision reliably and safely across various settings. By establishing rigorous benchmarks for eye and face protection, ANSI facilitates informed consumer decision-making and promotes a culture of safety and excellence among manufacturers.


Partnering with PEL provides a streamlined solution for eyewear manufacturers seeking ANSI accreditations. PEL allows your eyewear manufacturer to reach all markets through our expertise in accreditations and certifications worldwide.


Essential Eyewear QC Inspection Checklist

Topics: Eyewear Manufacturing

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Zenobia Chan

Zenobia Chan is PEL's General Manager, and has been working in the eyewear industry for over 17 years. She has been involved in the entire supply chain from research and development, to order fulfillment, quality management, auditing and product compliance. She established PEL from scratch and is an annual seminar speaker at the MIDO and Hong Kong Optical Fair.

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