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Sunglasses 101: ANSI Rated Sunglasses

You’ve probably seen sunglasses that have an ANSI rating or a sticker that says they’re “ANSI compliant,” like these Under Armour sunglasses:

ANSI compliant sunglasses
Under Armour is one of many sunglass manufacturers that make ANSI compliant shades.


So, what does an ANSI rating mean, and why should you care about it when you’re selecting sunglasses?

For people who like to work hard and play hard, an ANSI rating is important, especially when hazardous materials and/or flying objects are involved.  When it comes to sunglassesANSI compliant means BADASS.

The acronym ANSI stands for the American National Standards Institute, which is a non-profit organization that serves as the United State’s official standards rating institution. ANSI has been around for over 90 years and has over 1000 members that work together to develop voluntary national consensus standards. These members include trade associations, government agencies, professional societies, labor interest groups, and more. ANSI strives to include “. . .representation from almost every U.S. industry sector.” 

When it comes to eyewear, the Z87.1 standard refers to the “American National Standard for Occupational and Educational Personal Eye and Face Protection Devices,” which includes minimum safety guidelines for non-prescription eye protection against different types of impact, radiation, and liquid splash exposures.  

Sunglasses with an ANSI Z87.1 rating are tested against the following eye hazards:

    • Blunt impact
    • Radiation
    • Liquid splashes and drops
    • Dust and small dust particles
    • Wind


To earn compliance, sunglasses are put to the test. 

Some of our favorite ANSI eyewear tests include. . .

ANSI Testing on Sunglasses: High-Impact Blows to Lenses and Frame

Yeah, ANSI’s pretty hardcore, and we have mad respect for sunglasses that pass these brutal tests. 

There are a couple of impact ratings: “Z87” alone means the sunglasses passed the basic impact tests, and “Z87+” means the sunglasses passed the high-velocity impact tests.

Below are images that show one of the high-impact tests. The top pictures are of ANSI Z87.1 compliant sunglasses, and the bottom pictures are of sunglasses that obviously failed the test. Ouch.

One of many of the ANSI high-impact tests. These sunglasses passed the test.


ANSI Test Fail
ANSI impact test FAIL. Images from Edge Eyewear: An Inside Look at Testing for High Impact Compliance

You have the right to ask for proof of ANSI standards compliance from any eyewear manufacturer. Do not trust eyewear that does not have the standard printed on it. If you’re really into this stuff, then check out for more details. 

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