Whether you play for fun or you play to be remembered, you always play your best, so why let the sun wreak havoc on your game? From pesky glare to harmful UV rays, the sun can do some serious damage to not only your performance, but your eyes, making sunglasses a key player in every outdoor (and even indoor) activity.
Finding the right eyewear for your game may seem tricky, which is why we’ve simplified the process into three easy steps.
- Read on to learn more about common sports injuries and the power of protective eyewear .
- Lens tint? Frame style? Extra features? Discover which qualities are most important to your game with help from our Athlete’s Guide to Sunglasses.
- Once you know what you’re looking for, find the right pair for you!
Common Sports Related Eye Injuries
Protection from UV rays and relief from overwhelming glare? Check and check. But when it comes to adventure-seekers and intense athletes, sunglasses safeguard against more than just the sun. They serve as a shield from debris, sweat, sporting equipment, and whatever else might interfere with your game. Which types of injuries are you most likely to encounter on the field, the court, or the open water? We’ve got the answers for you, right here:
Blunt Trauma and Impact Eye Injuries
These are the injuries that occur when something or someone hits your eye with force. Not surprisingly, they are the most common eye injuries in sports, especially for contact sports or those that use balls, rackets, or sticks. The injury can be minor, like a black eye, or more serious, like fractured facial bones or a ruptured eyeball. Proper eye protection can help lessen the blow of a hard hit, making them an essential piece of equipment.
Penetrating or Piercing Eye Injuries
Broken glass, debris, and fingernails are common culprits of penetrating and piercing eye injuries. While any athlete who leaves his eyewear on the sidelines is at risk for this type of injury, fishermen should be extra careful — a fishhook to the eye when casting a line is an all too common injury that a pair of sunglasses may help prevent.
Radiation Eye Injuries
If you spend your days by sea, lake, or snow, or rolling around in the snow — listen up. While you’re shredding it up on the slopes or surfing the waves, your skin and eyes are exposed to even more radiation than the average athlete, due to the reflective nature of water and snow. Even on overcast days, you should be wary of the effects of the sun reflecting off the snow and water. UV light has been linked to various eye problems, including cataracts and macular degeneration, and is one of the leading causes of vision loss among older Americans. So equip yourself with UV-protecting eyewear and don’t let the sun ruin your fun.
Athletic Eye Injuries by the Numbers
Sports-related eye injuries are no joke. Before you decide to leave your shades behind, check out these stats from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO):
- More than 42,000 sports and recreation-related eye injuries are reported each year in the United States. (And there may be many more eye injuries than this, as many go unreported.)
- More than 70% of these eye injuries occur in people under 25, roughly 40% occur in people under 15, and eight percent occur in children under 5.
- Baseball and basketball are associated with the most eye injuries among players ages 5 to 24.
- Proper-fitting sports eyewear can reduce the risk of serious sports-related eye injuries by 90%.
Sunglasses as Protective Eyewear During Sports
Sporting proper eyewear is an easy way to reduce common sports eye injuries, but the benefits of sports sunglasses don’t stop there. The right shades can even enhance your performance during certain outdoor sports and activities.
One of the easiest ways to improve your game is by popping on a pair of polarized sunglasses. Polarized lenses improve visibility of the ball, the field, your opponents, you name it, by removing a harsh glare or bright light. Ordinary sunglass lenses reduce the amount of visible light entering the eye, but they do not block or eliminate glare that may be caused by water, snow, pavement, sand, and other surfaces.
Even if you’re not staring directly at a reflective surface, glare coming from different angles can obstruct your vision, causing you to squint. This constant squinting and irritation caused by glare can create eye fatigue, headaches, and general discomfort. A polarized lens blocks and eliminates this glare, allowing you to focus on your fitness without interruption. Plus, you’ll be able to better see what stands between you and victory.
Protection Against UV Damage
When it comes to UV protection, there’s no room to mess around. UV damage to the eyes is irreversible, and children and teens are especially susceptible to this damage. 80% of UV damage occurs before you reach the age of 18 and can lead to future problems such as cataracts, macular degeneration, cancer of the eye, or photokeratitis (sunburn of the retina). The only way to properly protect your eyes while outdoors is to wear sunglasses that provide 100% UV protection. Keep in mind that protecting your eyes now will pay off later in life as UV light damage is one of the leading causes of vision loss among older Americans.