ASK THE EYE DOC

What kind of glasses should I wear when I play sports?

Paul Berman, OD, F.A.A.O., is one of the lead optometrists at Focus Eye Health & Vision Care Optometrists in Hackensack, NJ. Sports protective eyewear is one of his specialties.

Q: I want to wear my regular glasses when I play sports. Do I really need special glasses?

A: Many people don't think to ask that question until they've had or witnessed an eye injury that occured during sports. Some studies show that there are as many as 600,000 sports-related eye injuries every year in the U.S. Other statistics reveal that every 13 minutes a severe eye injury occurs while playing sports, requiring a trip to the emergency room.

Over 90% of all eye injuries that occur during sports are preventable. That's why I recommend sports protective eyewear. Your regular glasses just aren't enough, even if they have a strap. In fact, they can lead to even more severe eye injuries because they can't withstand much impact and are prone to shatter into many pieces, each of which poses an additional threat to your eyes.

Polycarbonate or Trivex® lenses are the industry standard for safety. These lenses are 20-100 times more impact-resistant than normal lenses, and you can find them in a wide array of styles.

Even if your sports eyewear seems efficient and durable, it's essential that it is ASTM approved. This means that the eyewear has been performance tested to make sure that it can effectively protect your eyes. One of the standard tests for sports lenses is shooting balls at various speeds at the eyewear to make sure it can withstand the impact without touching your face, breaking, or distorting.

In addition to being resilient, quality sports lenses have special tints and coatings that are designed to give you the best visual clarity across a larger surface area of your lenses. (Everyday lenses usually emphasize central vision more than peripheral.)

So whether you're heading for the trail, running across the field, or maneuvering on the court, your safety eyewear is one piece of sports equipment you should never go without. By using certified sports eyewear, you are not only protecting your eyes, but you're also boosting your performance potential. As we say in sports, it's a "win-win."

For more information on lenses and sports eye safety, visit www.libertysport.com and www.sportseyeinjuries.com.

The content of this article is for general informational awareness purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult your eyecare doctor or physician for actual advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This article is the work of the attributed author and does not necessarily represent the views or opinions of VSP. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.
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