Those of us who need to wear glasses face a bit of a quandary when it comes to protective eyewear. We can put big safety glasses on over top of our prescription glasses, although these can be bulky, uncomfortable, and a little funny-looking. Those drawbacks can be avoided by getting safety glasses with prescription lenses, but given the conditions under which such glasses are typically worn, it's entirely possible that their custom lenses will get scratched. This leaves users on the hook for an expensive new pair, which they will have to wait several days for. Australian inventor Andreas Mehringer, however, has created what could be a better alternative, in the form of his IC Safety System.

Mehringer's system consists of two parts.

On the outside is a pair of fairly conventional wrap-around non-prescription polycarbonate safety glasses. These are designed to protect the eyes from flying bits and pieces, and varying amounts of UV light (depending on the model). Their lenses have an anti-scratch, anti-fog coating, and are said to be distortion-free.

Sitting against the inside of them is a proprietary clear plastic "Astralon" foil, which is the same shape as the lenses. It simply slides in and clicks into place. Mounted within that foil, in such a way that they line up exactly with each specific user's eyes, are a pair of prescription lenses.

When one of the outer protective lenses gets scratched, users pop out the foil, and put it into a new pair of IC glasses - no down time, and no new prescription lenses required. Mehringer is aiming his product mainly at managers of workplaces, who could supply each employee with their own prescription foil, but who would also have a ready supply of replacement outer glasses on hand.

A single-vision prescription foil costs AUD$100 (US$106), with one pair of IC safety glasses going for AUD$28.90 (US$30.74). Prices go up with trickier prescriptions, while a sport version of the glasses sells for AUD$49.90 (US$53.22). They are available through the website for Andreas' business, New Eye Company.