What is the acceptability of safety glasses with simple surgical face mask in lieu of face mask with shield?

Posted on March 23, 2020 by Ellison Richmond


In terms of protecting the eyes themselves, depending on their design, goggles may be as good as shields. However, users should be aware that the areas of the face around the goggles may be affected – a consideration when removing eyewear and for washing the face.


  • Hard plastic or disposable plastic glasses may provide as good or even superior protection from eye contamination as face masks (1) However, a smaller non-published study found safety eyeglasses may not be sufficient for eye protection, I expect this depends on the design of the glasses tested, see footnote URL (2)
  • A WHO review of PPE for filovirus found “very low quality evidence comparing face shields and goggles” (3)


  • Normal prescription glasses do not provide adequate protection. (4)

Questions? Comments? Does this need to be updated? Do you have valuable points to add ? Please email ask.reakt@ubc.ca.


  1. Mansour AA 3rd1, Even JL, Phillips S, Halpern JL. Eye protection in orthopaedic surgery. An in vitro study of various forms of eye protection and their effectiveness. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2009 May;91(5):1050-4. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.H.00460.
  2. Shoham S et al Comparison of Protection against Ocular Contamination with Disposable Eyewear Products http://www.medonyx.com/media/MedStarFullClinicalPoster.pdf
  3. World Health Organization,  Personal protective equipment for use in a filovirus disease outbreak: Rapid advice guideline. 2016. https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/251426/9789241549721-eng.pdf?sequence=1&ua=1
  4. Roberge RJ. Face shields for infection control: A review. J Occup Environ Hyg. 2016;13(4):235–242. doi:10.1080/15459624.2015.1095302


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