The Case for Protective Eyewear for Sports

Sports protective eyewear has come a long way since those chunky goggles strapped onto your head like Kareem Abdul Jabbar's from the 1980s. Protective glasses have evolved into vital, purpose-built safety gear that offers protection and better vision. Wearing sports sunglasses or goggles (in skiing or motorsports) makes a difference. Nearly 13 percent of all treated eye injuries are sports-related. That equals thousands of potentially blinding injuries that could have been prevented by wearing protective sports glasses.

Sports Where Protective Glasses Prove Their Value

Fast-paced ball sports such as racquetball, squash, and handball have long required eye protection to play. Tennis, Pickleball  and baseball are also prime sports for sports glasses. But proper eyewear can save your game in contact sports such as football and basketball as well. Did you know basketball — not a racquet sport — is the leading cause of sports-related eye injuries in the U.S.? A poke in the eye while playing hoops is a real threat. Turns out Kareem was ahead of the curve all along.

But even athletes who play non-ball sports can benefit from proper sports sunglasses or goggles. Skiers and snowboarders need them to see more clearly in bright conditions with high-intensity glare reflecting off the snow. They also need them to keep their eyes from watering due to the speeds they reach while traveling downhill. Cyclists need protection from wind, dust, pebbles, and bugs. Mountain bikers need protection from eye-level branches and bushes crowding the trail.

Keys to High-Quality Protective Sports Glasses

Start with the lens material. It should be made from polycarbonate, a featherweight shatter-resistant material. Rudy Project does one better with its ImpactX® lens constructed of patented polyurethane optical polymers originally developed for military and aerospace applications. While we’d never recommend testing this claim, these lenses can take a 90 mph fastball to the face and not crack.

The sunglass or eyewear frames should also be indestructible, bending or flexing but not snapping. To make this possible, Rudy Project uses advanced polymers that are extremely lightweight and flexible by virtually indestructible In addition to durable lenses, you want frames that fit a wrap-around lens for full coverage of the eyes in all conditions. Look for adjustable nose grips and temples, which will mitigate slippage during intense play or hot conditions. Last, the best sports sunglasses and protective glasses work with, not against, other protective gear, namely helmets. For example, ski goggle frames will accommodate ski helmets. Cycling glasses will fit inside of chin straps but close to the head at your ear.

Protection With Benefits

Beyond keeping your eyes safe, wearing sports glasses will quantifiably improve your game through sharper vision thanks to  tinted lenses that deliver high-contrast sight. This allows you to see the ball faster, spot obstacles in a trail quicker, and react a split second sooner. Plus, UVA and UVB protection stops harmful radiation from reaching your eyeballs.

For athletes of all types and abilities who wear prescription eyeglasses, sports glasses outfitted with their Rx allow them to compete at the highest level without sacrificing sight. For the best possible experience, try photochromic prescription protective eyewear. These lenses quickly change from clear to dark and provide competitors with a go-to pair of protective glasses for all sports — outdoor and indoor.