March 7, 2014: Protective Sports Eyewear
Today, sports eyewear can be spotted on almost anyone who picks up a ball, bat, racquet or
stick — whether they play in the major leagues or the Little League. Fortunately, coaches, parents
and players now realize that wearing protective eyewear for sports pays off in several ways. The
risk of eye damage is reduced or eliminated, and the player's performance is enhanced by the fact
that they see well. In fact, many clubs today do not permit their members to participate without
wearing proper eye gear.
I Initially, there was some resistance by children to "looking funny" when they wore protective
eyewear. Today, sports goggles are an accepted part of everyday life, much the way bike helmets
have become the norm. In addition, both children and adults like the image that wearing protective
eyewear gives them: it shows they mean business on the playing field.
If you're not wearing protective eyewear, consider this...
Prevent Blindness America reports that hospital emergency rooms treat 40,000 eye injuries
every year that are sportsrelated. Sports such as racquetball, tennis and badminton may seem
relatively harmless, but they involve objects moving at 60 miles per hour or faster. During a typical
game, a racquetball can travel between 60 and 200 miles per hour. Another potential danger is
that the racquets themselves move at high speed in a confined space and often make contact
with one another.
Flying objects aren't the only hazard. Many eye injuries come from pokes and jabs by fingers
and elbows, particularly in games where players are in close contact with each other. Basketball,
for example, has an extremely high rate of eye injury.
These are great reasons to wear protective eyewear. Another aspect has to do with
performance. It used to be common for people with mild to moderate prescriptions to simply
participate in sports without wearing their glasses or contacts. But sharp vision is a vital ingredient
to performing well in nearly every sport, and participating in sports when you have less than 20/20
vision is counterproductive.
Features to look for
Prescription glasses, sunglasses and even onthejob industrial safety glasses don’t provide
adequate protection for sports use. Sports goggles are made in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Some are even designed to fit in helmets used for football, hockey and baseball. Sports goggles
should allow the use of helmets when the sport calls for it.
Lenses in sports eyewear are usually made of polycarbonate. Since polycarbonate is such an
impactresistant lens material, it works well to protect eyes from fastmoving objects.
Polycarbonate lenses also have builtin ultraviolet (UV) protection and are coated to be scratch
resistant — valuable properties for outdoor sports.
Polycarbonate is the material of choice for sports lenses, but the eyewear frame plays just as
important a role. Different sports require different types of frames, which has led to development
of sportspecific frames. Sport frames are constructed of highly impactresistant plastic or
polycarbonate, and most come with rubber padding to cushion the frame where it comes in
contact with your head and the bridge of your nose.
Some sports styles are contoured, wrapping slightly around the face. This type of goggle works
well for biking, hanggliding, and sailing. Contact lens wearers especially benefit from the
wraparound style, which shields your eyes from wind and dust.
Sports eyewear should fit properly as well as provide protection. So no matter what style is
determined to be best for you, make sure that you are comfortable in the frame and then “Play