Prevent Blindness America reports that hospital emergency rooms treat more than 40,000 sports-related eye injuries every year. Even non-contact sports such as badminton can present inherent dangers to the eyes.
Sports that use balls, racquets and flying objects, pose a potential for eye injury
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 could strike a player.
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. So does swimming, where no flying objects are involved. These are great reasons to wear protective eyewear.
Enhancing performance is another important aspect of eye protection. It used to be common for people with mild to moderate prescriptions to simply participate in sports without wearing their eyeglasses or contacts. Coaches and players soon recognized that clear, sharp vision is a vital ingredient in sports performance, and participating in sports with less than 20/20 vision is counterproductive.
Features To Look for in Protective Sports Eyewear
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. Many are designed for racquet sports and are available for basketball and soccer. 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 usually are made of polycarbonate. Since polycarbonate is such an impact-resistant lens material, it works well to protect eyes from fast-moving objects. Polycarbonate also has built-in ultraviolet protection — a valuable feature for outdoor sports.
Polycarbonate is the material of choice for sports lenses, but the eyewear frame plays an important role, too. Different sports require different types of frames, which has led to development of sport-specific frames. Most sport frames can accommodate both prescription and nonprescription lenses. Sport frames 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.
Some sports styles are contoured, wrapping slightly around the face. This type of goggle works well for biking, hang-gliding and sailing. Contact lens wearers especially benefit from the wraparound style, as it helps keep out wind and dust. Each of our offices has a catalog of sports frame options to choose from, though not all locations have frames in-office available to try on. Ask your optician for details.