How to Choose Protective Eyewear for Sports

April is Sports Eye Safety Month, offering the opportunity to shed light on the importance of proper protective eyewear when playing sports. From requirements and standards in eyewear protection, to lens recommendations and choosing the right options, we’re providing a guide on how to evaluate protective sports eyewear to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Standards and Requirements

American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) sets the standards that eye protection must meet to prevent eye injuries in sports. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) offers a helpful list of specific standards to consult when choosing eyewear for a sport:

  • ASTM F803: Eye protectors for selected sports (racket sports, women’s lacrosse, field hockey, baseball, basketball)
  • ASTM F513: Eye and face protective equipment for hockey players
  • ASTM F1587: Head and face protective equipment for ice hockey goaltenders
  • ASTM F1776: Eye protectors for paintball participants
  • ASTM F2879: Eye protectors for use when playing airsoft sports
  • ASTM F910: Face guards for youth baseball
  • ASTM F659: High-impact resistant eye protection for Alpine skiing

While this is not an exhaustive list, it is a reliable place to start when selecting eye protection. Knowing that many experts contribute to the compilation of this list, and its maintenance, offers additional reassurance that these are the proper recommendations that should be taken seriously when considering sports safety.

Selecting a Lens

There are many lens choices when it comes to sports eyewear protection, and certain activities require certain lens types. As an example, the AAO recommends that for sports such as basketball, racquetball, soccer, and field hockey, participants wear protective eyewear with a polycarbonate lens. This type of lens is made from an impact-resistant material that makes it the safest lens option for sports. Especially in sports where there are fast moving objects and objects flying through the air, polycarbonate lens offer a necessary layer of protection in the sporting experience. Additionally, most polycarbonate lens have built-in ultraviolet (UV) projection and scratch-resistant coatings for enhanced durability.

Choosing the Proper Eyewear

First and foremost, eye protection in sports is much more than simply wearing contact lenses or everyday glasses for vision correction. These everyday options do not protect the eyes from impact, debris, or damage, and they can actually cause more injury if they shatter in or near the eye. Instead, focus on activity-specific lenses with a polycarbonate material and UV protection option that offer the optimal potential for eye safety while playing sports. Consulting your ophthalmologist and sharing your interests and activity level also help them when offering recommendations and crafting suggestions for your eye safety. There are many viable and affordable options when it comes to protective eyewear for sports, and the experts at ReFocus can help provide clarity and direction on the best options.

Engaging in sports is a rewarding and exciting experience, made that much more exciting when played safely. Consulting your ophthalmologist and implementing their recommendations will help to ensure that you select the proper eyewear and maintain eye health and safety while enjoying activities.