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Here in Northern Colorado sports eyewear can be seen on pretty much anyone who picks up a ball, bat, racquet or stick – whether they play in the major leagues or the Little League. Now, most coaches, parents and players realize the many advantages of wearing protective eyewear for sports. We are seeing the greater risk of eye damage is reduced or eliminated, and the player’s sports performance is enhanced by the fact that their vision is optimized. Many sport clubs today do not permit their members to participate without wearing proper eye safety gear.

At first we saw some resistance by children to “looking funny” when they wore protective eyewear. This opposition was short lived though and now we are seeing this practice is widely accepted and encouraged. People in Fort Collins, Loveland and Greeley, sports goggles are an accepted part of everyday life, very much the same way bike helmets are seen everywhere now in a wide variety of fun styles. It is interesting to note that both children and adults are enjoying the image that wearing protective eyewear gives them: it shows everyone that they are serious about the sport on the playing field.

If you’re not wearing protective eyewear, consider this…

The organization Prevent Blindness America reports that there are approximately 40,000 eye injuries every year that are sports-related. Activities such as racquetball, tennis and badminton… although they may appear harmless at first glance, they do involve objects moving at 60 miles per hour or faster depending on the individuals playing the game. Through the course of a typical round of racquetball, a ball can travel anywhere from 60 – 200 mph! That can definitely cause some damage if something goes wrong. There is also the potential for a player to lose grip on a racquet and injure another player with the racquet.

Flying objects are not the only thing posing a eye injury hazard. We see that many eye injuries come from pokes and jabs by fingers and elbows, this is especially common in sports where players are in close contact with each other. Basketball, for example, has an extremely high rate of eye injury.

These are all wonderful reasons to wear protective eyewear. Yet another reason is the performance of the player. Years ago it was more common for people with lesser prescription and vision correction needs to simply participate in sports without corrective lenses but everything in sports has become more competitive. Now we are seeing even that people in Northern Colorado who have mild to moderate vision correction needs are getting sports eyewear to give them the competitive edge that they need in order to perform well in nearly every sport available.

Features to look for

Please consider that your prescription glasses, sunglasses and even on-the-job industrial safety glasses will not give you adequate protection for sports use. Sports goggles are made in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and tints. 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 are usually made of the impact-resistant lens material, polycarbonate. Polycarbonate lenses also have built-in ultraviolet (UV) protection and are coated to be scratch resistant – both of these features are valuable properties for outdoor sports or high impact sports.

Polycarbonate is the material of choice for sports lenses, but the eyewear frame plays just as important a role. Different sports require different types of frames, (you wouldn’t want to wear outdoor shooting glasses when playing hockey in an indoor arena) which has led to development of sport-specific frames. 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 your head and the bridge of your nose.

There are some sports frames that are contoured, wrapping slightly around the face. This type of eyewear works very well for biking, hiking, hang-gliding, and boating. Many contact lens wearers enjoy the benefit of the wraparound style, which shields your eyes from wind and dust that can make contact wearing uncomfortable to say the least.

A note about handball goggles

Years ago, handball goggles that were worn for safety only were designed with nothing in the front part of the goggle. These have since been recognized to be worthless safety wise because of the speed and force of the ball which can still cause injury unless there is a protective lense covering the entire eye. for those with no need for vision correction were simply goggles with small openings in place of lenses. All sports goggles worn for handball and racquetball should include impact-resistant polycarbonate lenses that cover the whole eye for adequate protection while participating in these activities.

Important fitting considerations

It is very important to note that sport goggles and glasses need to fit correctly in order to properly protect the individual wearer. This is particularly important with children, because there is the idea that it might be beneficial to purchase a larger goggle so the youngster has “room to grow.” While some growing room is o.k., since sports goggles are made to be somewhat flexible in their width adjustment. If, however, the frames are too big, the sports goggles or glasses will not protect the child’s eyes the way they were designed to; thus leaving a very real potential for damage if there is impact to the head or the face. This is not a risk worth taking with your child’s eyes and vision.

In the same way, allowing your child to continue wearing goggles or sports glasses that he or she has outgrown can be just as dangerous. First, the frames will be uncomfortable, making it tempting for the child to take them off when they need them the most. Secondly, the frames themselves may obstruct peripheral vision because they are too small, causing poor line of vision and in turn poorer performance with the potential for impact from unseen sources because their peripheral vision is reduced. Regular review of the fit of your child’s sporting eye wear during their annual eye check up is recommended to ensure the proper sizing, fit and protection of your child’s eye wear. We also make sure the padding inside the sides of the goggle rests flush with the face and the eyes are centered in the lens area giving your child the best fit and vision possible.

For additional information or to schedule an appointment, please call 970-204-4020 or click on the link on the side of the page.