When we open the conversation about sport eyewear with our patients, they tell us enthusiastically about the particular sport in which they participate, but do you know how to recommend sport-specific eyewear with that same enthusiasm? Of course, safety is the primary concern, but performance plays just as big a part in selecting the right eyewear. Sport eyewear doesn’t just need to be safe; it must be an asset to the sportsman, specific to the conditions of the sport, including visual demands and light and glare. Technological advances in lens designs have resulted in a palate of colors and coatings that can be overwhelming to the sports enthusiast. That’s where eyecare practitioners must be the experts.

People usually engage in water sports under bright, sunny conditions. A dark grey polarized lens provides glare reduction without distorting colors. Coatings must be high quality hydrophobic and of course, scratch-resistant. Rust and amber colored lenses attenuate more high-energy visible light (HEV) and provide better contrast and depth perception for golf and tennis, as well as in hazy conditions.

For clarity in low light conditions such as dawn and dusk, polarized yellow lenses work well and are great for hunting, fishing and shooting. Amber polarized lenses with a gold mirror are best in bright conditions for target shooting and fishing in shallow water. And bronze lenses increase contrast and enhance ground level contours for running and biking. Eyewear must also provide 100 percent UV protection for any outdoor sport.


With most sports, we know to expect the unexpected impact. And so for glasses used in any sport, the lenses must be impact resistant beyond the demands of dress eyewear. Lenses must be able to withstand high velocity and blunt force impact for sports such as soccer, basketball, baseball, racquetball, squash, badminton, paddleball, tennis and handball. Injury can occur with frames too and therefore must also be impact resistant. And frame bevels must be deep enough to prevent lenses from dislodging on impact. The ANSI standard for sport eyewear is that frames and lenses must withstand the impact of a 0.25 inch diameter steel ball fired at 150 feet per second (fps) for the high-velocity impact standard. The ANSI standard for high-mass impact is that frames and lenses must withstand the weight of a 1.1 pound pointed projectile dropped from a height of 50 inches. In other words, they have to be made of tough stuff!

When you’re specific, you are part of your patient’s team when you show them the eyewear that will not only protect them during their favorite sport but also enhance their performance by providing the best vision for the demands and conditions of their specific sport. Learn about safety, protection and performance with our CE course, “Born on the Battlefield”  in the September 15 20/20 issue.


Linda Conlin
[email protected]