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Safety glasses are worn to protect the eyes in various situations. They are made with break-proof plastic lenses to protect the eye from flying debris or other matter. Construction workers, factory workers, machinists and lab technicians are often required to wear safety glasses to shield the eyes from flying debris or hazardous splatters such as blood or chemicals. As of 2017, dentists and surgeons in Canada and other countries are required to wear safety glasses to protect against infection from patients' blood or other body fluids. There are also safety glasses for welding, which are styled like wraparound sunglasses, but with much darker lenses, for use in welding where a full-sized welding helmet is inconvenient or uncomfortable. These are often called "flash goggles" because they provide protection from welding flash. Nylon frames are usually used for protective eyewear for sports because of their lightweight and flexible properties. Unlike most regular glasses, safety glasses often include protection beside the eyes as well as in front of the eyes.

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