Many Toolmongers are familiar with the eye strain that comes with years of examining fine measurements, instruction manuals, and other close-up work in the shop. Since it’s such a common issue, a slew of companies makes various types of magnifying and bifocal safety glasses — 3M, Fastcap, DeWalt, Apex, and Smith and Wesson, to name a few (pictured above are the $10 SB-9000 bifocal safety glasses from Phillips Safety Products).
As someone who’s worn glasses most of my life, I’ve always been suspicious of drugstore-type generic “reading” glasses and the like. Everyone who needs vision correction has specific requirements, and generic safety bifocals sound to me about as appealing as cochlear implants from Walmart or dental work from the 7-11.
But maybe I’m completely wrong, and inexpensive magnifying safety glasses are just a quick way to get a close look, like a standard magnifying glass. In fact, DeWalt’s High Performance Safety Glasses [What’s This?] (pictured above, in a cool, Fonzie-esque smoky gray) seem to be popular at Amazon, and many reviewers claim it’s a perfectly fine and affordable alternative to expensive prescription safety glasses. Most bifocal safety glasses offer various options in magnification power, and if you do pick up a pair, they should meet ISEA (International Safety Equipment Association) or ANSI requirements for eye protection.
So, what do Toolmongers think? Pay for quality, or keep a few cheap pairs around to protect your aging eyes (and the regular glasses you’ve already invested in)?