NC Science Olympiad
Eye Protection

We know that the safety rules can seem complex at times. Science Olympiad has updated their rating system to A, B, C categories. Here is the link to read about it on their webpage.

Where to buy glasses (These will cover every event that requires glasses):
Discount Safety Gear
Youth size glasses: Available on Amazon

*What to look for, regardless of where you buy them - they MUST say Z87+ (the + is really really important!)*

Indirect vent chemical/splash protection goggles. These seal tightly to the face completely around the eyes and have indirect vents constructed so that liquids do not have a direct path into the eye (or no vents at all). If you are able to see through the vent holes from one side to the other, they are NOT indirect vents. Swim goggles do not count as safety goggles.

Where to buy goggles (these will cover every event that requires goggles)
Carolina Biological - adult
Carolina Biological - youth
Amazon - Adult


1. A goggle that bears the Z87+ mark and is an indirect vent chemical/splash protection goggle will qualify for all three Categories A, B & C

2. VisorGogs do not seal completely to the face, but are acceptable as indirect vent chemical/splash protection goggles

If you wear prescription glasses, speak to your optometrist about the possibility of ordering prescription safety glasses or goggles. While there are many prescription “adapters” on the market that fit over or around your regular glasses, most of these leave large gaps and do not meet our standards for side shields or venting.  Tell the doctor you need Z87+ wraparounds for glasses (a -2 after the Z87, such as Z87-2 or Z87-2+ indicates prescription glasses), and indirect vent Z87 or Z87+ for goggles.  

2016 NC Events That Require GLASSES
2016 NC Events That Require GOGGLES
3, 2, 1, Blast Off! (A) BioProcess Lab (B)
Air Trajectory (B/C) Cell Biology (C)
Bridges (B/C) Chemistry Lab (C)
Bottle Rocket (B/C) Crime Busters (B)
Elastic Launched Glider (B) Food Science (B/C)
Electric Vehicle (C) Forensics (C)
First in Flight (A) Super Sleuths (A)
Marshmallow Catapult (A)  
Mission Possible (B)  
Pasta Tower (A)  
Scrambler Car (B)  
Wind Power (B/C)  
Wheeled Vehicle (B)  
Wright Stuff (C)  

Glasses are the type of eyewear that looks like regular glasses. They are sometimes called spectacles. Glasses may also have side shields, which means there is a piece on the side of the glasses or they wrap around your face enough to protect your eyes from the side as well as the front.

Goggles are the type of eyewear that suction cups to your face. These can be the American style most people are familiar with, or German style, which has individual suction cups for each eye, sort of like swim goggles.

ANSI rating: Z87 vs Z87+
The ANSI (American National Standards Institute) rating is an impact rating, referred to in their literature as Z87.1. Sometimes it says Z87.1-2010, referring to the most recent revision of the standard in 2010. All safety glasses are rated in some way, and the rating will be imprinted on them somewhere (usually the inside of the side shield on glasses and the front of the lens for goggles). Z87 is a low impact rating. This means they are capable of resisting the impact of a 25.4 mm (1 inch) steel ball dropped from 127 cm (50 in). Z87+ is a high impact rating. This means they are capable of withstanding having a 500 gram pointed projectile dropped from a height of 130 cm (51.2 in) and also withstand having a 6.35 mm (.25= in) steel ball propelled at them. If the glasses or goggles only say Z87.1 it should be assumed that they are low impact, since all high impact will explicitly be marked with the plus. For more information on the standards, go here.

Direct vs Indirect refers to the type of ventilation, used primarily for safety goggles. It only applies to glasses on very rare occasions (see pictures below for example). Direct vent goggles are the more commonly found type in classrooms, usually because they are cheaper. This is the kind you see that has little pinholes perforated all over the top and sides of the goggles. This means that if you splash something, it can go directly through those holes and into your eye. Indirect vent goggles are the kind with the round or square knobs on them. This means if you splash something, it can't get to your eye unless it does some sort of bend and turn to get around the vent hole covers. Please note that if you have indirect vent goggles with a cut or a missing vent cover or if they don't seal around your face tightly then you lose the indirect rating.

Example Eye Protection
Regular safety glasses- no side shields, no wraparound, frontal protection only.
Safety glasses with typical side shields
Safety glasses with side shields that are vented- this is ok as long as the vents are angled so nothing can come straight through them and get to your eye
Safety glasses with side shields and a top shield. Top shields are not required by any event, but it is perfectly fine to have more protection than is required.
Wraparound safety glasses- you may want to consider tinted glasses if you are going to be competing outdoors in bottle rockets, but realize this will make it harder to see for indoor events.
Safety goggles with direct vents (the little pinholes)
Safety Goggles with indirect vents- common round type
Safety goggles with indirect vents - large square vents on side
German style safety goggles- note the foam lining to help seal against your face
Visorgogs- do not seal to your face, but are now allowed in chemistry events.


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