With more and more people participating in outdoor and extreme sports adequate eye protection is a must. The two biggest dangers to the eyes in this environment are ultra violet (UV) light from the sun and impact from a direct blow to the face. The safety aspect of sports eyewear, however, is not solely the concern of the elite or extreme sports person. Sports people at all levels are wise to take some time in considering the type of sports eyewear they choose. With sports participation becoming more and more popular the demand for expertise in sports vision is increasing.
Both elite and recreational sports enthusiasts need to ensure that their sports sunglasses offer one hundred percent protection from harmful UVA and UVB light as well as being impact resistant in case of mishaps! These are features that many ‘fashion’ sunglasses lack. For this reason fashion sunglasses should never be worn during sport. They are unlikely to withstand impact and may shatter causing eye or facial injury. The ideal material for sports eyewear is polycarbonate which is a thermoplastic polymer. This material is lightweight and has excellent impact resistance.
Always check the label on any sports sunglasses to ensure that the lenses offer maximum UV protection. Exposing the eye to UV light can contribute to the develoment of cataracts, eye tumours and macular degeneration. The eye can even get ‘sunburn’ – a condition known as ‘keratitis’. This is especially a concern in sports during which the eye is exposed to excessive reflected light such as skiing, snowboarding and water sports. UV bounces off snow and water even on cloudy days therefore it is important to always wear tinted goggles or sports sunglasses during these sports. Polarised lenses are the best choice for these sports as they absorb about ninety eight percent of reflected glare. Swimming goggles are now available with tinted or mirrored lenses to reduce glare in outdoor swimming and other water sports.
Sports sunglasses are also designed with features to make sure they stay on your face! This may sound like an obvious point but it is an important safety consideration. Rubber non-slip temple and nose grips are common features of sports sunglasses. Most are available with inexpensive rubber head straps to further increase security.
A safety feature of skiing goggles is anti-fogging properties. Not only is fogging a huge frustration for skiers and snowboarders, it can lead to potential accidents and injury. Double lenses, anti-fog coating and controllable vents are features to look for in goggles.
You wouldn’t wear your regular footwear for sport so why wear your regular sunglasses! Some Optometrists are now specialising in sports vision and are best placed to offer specific advice regarding the safety aspect of sports eyewear. Your eyes are precious and vulnerable – protect them well and enjoy your sport!