Sports Vision: How to Keep Your Eyes Safe

When you think of sports equipment, what comes to mind? Probably bats, gloves and balls; maybe jerseys and kneepads. What you probably don’t think of is eyewear. Sports eyewear is an extremely important, and an often overlooked, necessity when it comes to playing your favorite games.

Sports can be extremely visually demanding. There are two categories when it comes to sports eyewear. First, you probably want to improve your game. When playing, the eyes move in rapid and precise ways, which helps the brain interpret and predict things like an object’s path and speed. It is also important to see the contrast of objects, for example, finding a fly ball against a cloudless blue sky.

The second category is ocular safety. When playing sports, there are many uncontrollable elements that can be detrimental to your eye health. There are the obvious hazards like balls and objects that are swung – bats, racquets, hooks and even hands – but there are also environmental objects like sand, dirt, grass, turf, and pieces of broken equipment that can all come in contact with your eyes, often at high speeds.

At the very least, we recommend contact lenses for sports because of the increased peripheral range of vision without the risk of a frame damaging your face or eyes. Though sport-specifc eyewear is the best option, contacts are still better than regular prescription frames.

While EyeCare Specialties does offer urgent eye care services, we want you to take preventative steps and keep your eyes safe. Below is a list of some common (and not so common) sports and the benefits of sport-specific eyewear.

Airsoft: Airsoft pellets travel at high speeds, which means you need eyewear that will stand up to the challenge. Airsoft glasses are lightweight and have high-level UV protection along with the impact-resistance to keep your eyes safe.

Baseball: Those sunglasses your favorite major league player wears aren’t just for looks. The lenses are specially made to withstand high-velocity impacts that may occur in baseball.

Cycling: Cycling puts you outside, often during sunny hours, and moving at high speeds. We recommend lenses that are polarized, impact-resistant and lightweight for comfort.

Basketball: Basketball can be a sport of flying elbows. Basketball eyewear helps protect your eyes, and sometimes your nose, from impact. A good eyeguard will be shatter-proof with facial padding and anti-fog to help you see clearly.

Fishing: While fishing is often viewed as a relaxing activity, there are plenty of risks to your eyes, as well as benefits of specific lenses. Polarized glasses help you see into the water, which makes seeing the fish and any underwater hazards much easier. They also protect against flying hooks or pieces of debris that may get tossed into the air.

Racquet sports: Racquetball is one of those sports where it’s obvious that you should have protective eyewear. There are several dangers, including the size and velocity of the ball and swinging racquets. Most racquetball courts require eyewear before entering. If you play often, it is a smart idea to purchase your own pair of glasses that fit you well and are fog-resistant for when the match gets intense.

Shooting: Whether shooting for target practice or competition, protective eyewear is vital when your eyes are in close proximity to projectiles. Shooting glasses are lightweight and comfortable with UV protection and polarizing tint to help visual contrast. They are also safe against high-velocity impacts that may occur from shell casings and other items.

Snowboarding/Skiing: Because UV exposure increases with altitude and the light is reflected off the snow, it is extremely important to make sure that your goggles have a high UV protection factor. They should also fit comfortably and have an anti-fog coating to keep your vision clear on the way down the slopes.