Sports are a major pastime worldwide.

But while we go to great lengths to protect against broken bones, concussions and even blisters, we often forget to prevent scratched corneas, fractured eye sockets and permanent vision loss. 40,000 people every year suffer eye injuries significant enough to report.

There are various types of sports eyewear designed to not only protect your eyes and your vision, but to enhance your athletic performance.

Better play, better performance, better protection 

Wearing eyewear that’s designed for sports has defined protective and performance benefits. Here’s how sports eyewear can help in major categories of sports. 

Contact sports

Players and excited spectators alike are well aware of the stray elbows, knees and other objects that get thrown your way in football, hockey, soccer and basketball.

Eye guards or goggles help keep these things from hitting your eyes, the most delicate and exposed organs of your body. You can prevent socket fractures, swollen retinas, internal bleeding, inflamed irises and traumatic cataracts from such blunt-force traumas.

Sports eyewear also provides better vision and protection in the sun and, if you need vision correction, give you better visual performance with less worry.

Recommended protection:

  • Eye guards or goggles
  • Polycarbonate face shields 

Ball and stick sports

Sports such as handball, squash, racquetball, tennis, golf and baseball all hurtle hard objects at high speeds. Not only does non-slipping, non-fogging eyewear help you keep your eye on the ball, but their impact-resistant polycarbonate and sports-specific designs keep the ball out of your eye.

Recommended protection:

  • Eye guards
  • Faceguards and batting helmets

Water sports

Sports and swimming goggles are great for water sports, where high wind and hectic conditions can toss things your way. Sports eyewear is also critical for blocking ultraviolet (UV) damage and performance-harming glare.

For swimmers with contact lenses, wearing swimming goggles keeps water away from your eyes, helping to prevent cases of infection, which are the leading cause of contact lens complications. (Note: Don’t wear contacts while swimming.)

Recommended Protection:

  • Eye guards or goggles
  • Swimming goggles

Choosing the right sports eyewear

Here’s what you should know when you’re picking out eye guards or goggles:

  • Never buy eye guards or goggles without lenses.
  • Make sure the lenses are designed to pop outward in an accident.
  • Choose polycarbonate lenses, which are the most impact-resistant lens material on the market.
  • Look for anti-fog lenses and, for outdoor sports, UV protection.

Remember, protecting your eyes protects your eyesight. Check with your eye doctor anytime you have questions; he or she will help make sure you have the right eye care and eyewear for your eyes and your lifestyle.

Nothing in this article is to be construed as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the recommendations of a medical professional. For specific questions, please see your eye care practitioner.
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