Not so long ago, it was uncommon for athletes, both amateur and professional alike, to wear protective eyewear. Hockey fans all over the world will remember that fateful game when Jacque Plante was struck in the face by a puck and forced the hockey league to implement facemasks as a mandatory piece of equipment.
Plante may have suffered from a broken nose and not an eye injury, but it speaks to the bigger issue of not wearing the right protective face wear in sports. Today, many different sports, such as basketball and baseball continue to be played without the right protective eyewear.
It’s in every athlete’s best interest to wear the right eyewear on the court, the ice, or field. There are so many options available, but which ones are right for you?
Generally speaking, there are three main types of sport eyewear: safety goggles, glasses, and full facemasks. These are the most popular types of protective eyewear for sports and they all come equipped with different features. Let’s take a look and see which features best fit your active life.
Sport Safety Goggles
We’ll start off with safety goggles because they are probably the most versatile of the three protective eyewear types. Safety sport goggles stick to the face and cover the entire eye and come with a band that wraps all the way around the head.
The lenses of sport goggles are often made of polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is a material that will resist high impact, making it the perfect material for sport’s eyewear. High impact material means it is great for sports that involve flying objects and won’t shatter upon impact.
Many believe that their regular prescription glasses will do the trick when it comes to sport eyewear. As we mentioned before, glass can shatter when hit by a ball or a racket, or even by another player. To avoid the glass shattering into your eyes, goggles are made specifically to resist it.
The polycarbonate goggles will also protect your eyes from receiving the blunt hit. Even something as seemingly harmless as a badminton shuttlecock can cause a detached retina if it hits the eye directly.
Polycarbonate goggles can also be good for outdoor sports such as hiking, biking, skiing and snowboarding, and more! Polycarbonate comes with built in UV protection, so you don’t have to worry about trying to fit your sunglasses under your goggles. Some goggles even come tinted, which is great for skiing especially, as the light bouncing off the snow can sometimes be blinding.
However, when choosing your goggles, it’s important to pick a goggle with treated polycarbonate. Untreated polycarbonate, albeit cheaper price wise, scratches quite easily.
If you don’t plan on using the goggles very much, then, sure, go for the untreated polycarbonate. For those who play in leagues, legitimate and garage leagues, should consider springing for treated polycarbonate. It will save you money in the long run if you don’t have to replace your goggles so often.
Sport safety goggles are good for pretty much any sports that don’t require helmets or masks. Though most goggles are made sleek and come in many different sizes, they can seem clunky under a hockey mask.
The one exception to this rule is the ski helmet. You’re better off buying ski goggles, with a band that will wrap around your helmet than with safety sport glasses.
Sport goggles are highly recommended for those who wear contact lenses to keep out dust and dirt, especially when participating in outdoor sports.
Sport glasses are a little different than sport goggles. For one, they don’t cover the whole eye. Glasses can be worn in two ways. The first way is like regular glasses that rest on your nose and ears. The second way is like a goggle where a band wraps around the head.
Sport glasses are made of the same material as sport goggles: polycarbonate. Everything you learned about polycarbonate and sport goggles, can be applied to sport glasses.
Then why do sport goggles come more highly recommended than sport glasses? The reason is simple: glasses don’t protect the full eye the way goggles do. But this doesn’t mean sport glasses don’t have a place in sports. They do, but they don’t cover a large amount of sports like sport goggles.
Sport glasses are great for sports like basketball, badminton, indoor volleyball, racket ball, indoor tennis, etc. Sport goggles can work for almost any indoor sport. If you aren’t concerned about dust and sticks entering your eye through the sides of the glasses, sport glasses might be the right fit.
Sport glasses can also be customized to fit your prescription. You won’t have to worry about wearing contacts or, worse, having to wear your prescription glasses under the sport glasses. Talk about clunky!
If you’re a very active person with a foot in multiple sports that cross over from indoor to outdoor, you may want to consider buying a pair of sport goggles. But if you’re serious about your sports, you can buy the proper protection for each sports, even if it means buying multiple protective eyewear.
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Facemasks are also essential to protecting your eyes while playing a sport. Facemasks are used mostly for sports like hockey and paintball. They protect the entire face in these high contact sports.
Though not to be used in every sport, facemasks provide the ultimate protection. They won’t slip off your face and you can be sure that nothing is getting in through the sides. This is what makes it perfect for sports like hockey, where the puck could be hurled towards your face at any minute; and paintball, where you never know where the next paintball will hit.
Facemasks for paintball are often made out of polycarbonate. However, facemasks for hockey come in two forms: a visor or a grill. A visor is made of polycarbonate and doesn’t exactly cover the entire face. It covers the eyes until the nose, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will prevent sticks or a puck from entering from below.
This can be solved by pairing a visor with sport goggles. This will ensure that your eyes will be safe while you’re tearing up the ice.
Many little leagues require players to have a grilled mask. This mask is made of metal bars that form a sort of checkered pattern and covers the whole face. This is the best protection because nothing can get in. Grilled masks with triangles instead of squares are also used for sports like Ringuette, to prevent the stick from going through the square holes of a regular grilled mask.
All in all, you have quite a bit of choice when it comes to picking the right protective sport eyewear for you. The best way to go about it is to use this information and head down to your local sport store and see what they’ve got. Workers at the store can also help out by suggesting popular brands and showing you the different options.