Not long ago, athletes rarely wore eyewear specifically designed to protect their eyes during sports, and sports-related eye injuries were widespread. Today, sports eyewear can be spotted on almost anyone who picks up a ball, bat, racquet or stick. The realization has set in that wearing protective eyewear for sports pays off in several ways. The risk of eye damage is reduced and the player’s performance is enhanced by the ability to see better. In fact, many athletic and fitness clubs today do not permit their members to participate without wearing proper eye gear.
Sports in which balls, racquets or flying objects are present pose a potential for eye injury. Racquetball, tennis and badminton may seem relatively harmless, but they involve objects moving between 60 and 200 miles per hour.
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 has an extremely high rate of eye injury, as does swimming, where no flying objects are involved. Enhancing performance is another important aspect of eye protection — people with mild to moderate prescriptions to simply participate in sports without wearing their eyeglasses or contacts.
Prescription eyeglasses, sunglasses and even on-the-job industrial safety glasses typically do not provide adequate protection for sports use. Sports goggles are made in a variety of shapes and sizes, designed for racquet sports, basketball, soccer, biking, hang-gliding, sailing and paintball. Some are even designed to fit in helmets used for football, hockey and baseball. Sport frames can accommodate both prescription and non-prescription lenses, are constructed of highly impact-resistant plastic or polycarbonate, and most come with rubber padding to cushion the frame where it comes in contact with the head or the nose area.