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If you wore glasses growing up, before effective and comfortable protective eyewear was readily available, figuring out how to secure your glasses before heading out onto the field or court was a pesky problem. There were various elastic straps and contraptions you could attach to the temples to keep your specs strapped to your face, but they weren’t up to the rigors of the fast-paced jostling and juking of sports and they often stretched out or failed altogether. Plus, ordinary glasses frames were hardly stout enough to go through a whole practice or game without bending or breaking.
In years past, glasses could be unsightly or the cause for teasing, but they did the trick in protecting your eyes. Of course, many sports legends wore glasses during their time in the game. Most notably, baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson – Mr. October himself – wore a pair of metal aviator-style specs in his heyday during the 1970s. But these early attempts at sports eyewear were often just normal glasses with no way to keep them secured to your face, or just affixed with rudimentary retention that rarely worked well. Add to that glass lenses that could shatter when hit with a flying elbow or fast-pitched ball, and what was gained in vision was lost in safety.
Today, eye protection and enhancement in sports is taken much more seriously. Some sports, like racquetball, paintball and shooting, require that you wear some type of protection before you even begin the activity, regardless of any vision problems. In most sports, however, eye protection is optional for those with 20/20 vision. The sleek, face-hugging, high-impact eyewear that’s on the market now comes in many different models to enhance your game, no matter the sport.
When shopping for a pair of protective eyewear, look for specs that have scratchproof polycarbonate lenses that won’t shatter upon impact, along with polycarbonate or plastic frames that are light and durable and inner rubber padding to cushion around the head and nose. The most impact resistant lenses on the market, Airwear lenses, are always recommended for children and any active adult.
Different sports require different styles of protective eyewear: baseball and basketball tend to favor a goggle-style for maximum visibility and protection, cycling and running favor a wrap-around version with tinted lenses to shade sunlight and protect against harmful UV light, and football and hockey feature eyewear that can fit under helmets.
Thankfully, amateur and pro athletes today have a variety of options to choose from to keep their eyes safe from harm. But, even with all of these sweet new specs to protect and enhance our time playing sports, Prevent Blindness America reports that over 40,000 people are treated for eye injuries every year and the National Eye Institute estimates that 90% of those injuries and could be prevented by the use of protective eyewear.
If you or someone in your family is an athlete and has vision problems, make sure to get the latest in sports eyewear and strap them on every time you head out onto the field of play.