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What are Sports Glasses?

Dan Cavallari
Updated May 23, 2024
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Many sports today are high-risk enough that protective equipment is necessary, so sports glasses have become quite common in the athletic world. Sports glasses are comprised of frames and lenses that are designed to be shatterproof and to take an impact that would otherwise strike the eyes or the surrounding area. Other types of sports glasses are prescription eyewear for people who regularly wear glasses. These prescription glasses are also shatterproof and, in some cases, resistant to fogging. They are often secured to the head by a headband made from elastic material, and the lenses can be changed as one's prescription strength changes.

Protective sports glasses often feature polycarbonate lenses, which are shatterproof and more resistant to scratching than some plastics and glass. The shatterproof quality is essential, especially in racket sports in which a direct impact to the eyes is possible. The frames can be made from a variety of materials, from plastic to carbon fiber. The more shatter-resistant, the better, as shards of material can become lodged in the eye if an impact does occur. The arms that rest on the ears are often made from some sort of rubber that will prevent the glasses from moving too much during athletic activity.

Goggles are another form of sports glasses meant for certain sports in which high winds or blowing debris may be a factor. Ski goggles are perhaps the most common goggles on the market, but motocross riders also commonly wear googles as their choice for sports glasses. Many goggles feature mud guards that can be peeled off of the face of the goggles to give the user a clear view after being splashed with mud and debris. Goggles are often padded to provide comfort around the face, and the strap is elastic so it can be fit over a helmet as well as around the bare head.

Cyclists and runners wear sports glasses for more than just protection. Athletic glasses often feature interchangeable lenses that can block UV rays from the sun, or even enhance visibility in low light. They will further help block wind when cyclists or runners reach higher speeds. This will help maintain visibility and prevent the eyes from tearing up when struck with wind. Mountain bikers will use glasses to protect the eyes from stray branches, debris, and wind as well. The glasses in these cases are often ergonomically and aerodynamically designed to fit well and prevent glare and wind from hitting the eyes.

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Dan Cavallari
By Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari, a talented writer, editor, and project manager, crafts high-quality, engaging, and informative content for various outlets and brands. With a degree in English and certifications in project management, he brings his passion for storytelling and project management expertise to his work, launching and growing successful media projects. His ability to understand and communicate complex topics effectively makes him a valuable asset to any content creation team.
Discussion Comments
By David84 — On Apr 16, 2016

@matthewc23: Contact lenses are not eye protection. For those of you who do wear contact lenses, you can buy non-prescription sports glasses.

I have a pair prescription of sports goggles from Liberty Sport that I use instead of regular glasses as because I had problems with regular glasses in the past like worrying about my regular glasses falling off my face.

With my sports goggles I can go to the amusement park and not have to worry about losing them on a roller coaster.

kentuckycat is correct: modern sports goggles are more stylish than the ones seen in the past.

By anon304060 — On Nov 18, 2012

I think sports glasses are a good choice for kids. My daughter is nine and will be playing basketball soon. I don't think we'll be using contacts.

By gravois — On Dec 25, 2011

How much would a pair of prescription kids sports glasses cost. My son has just started playing basketball and we realized that his normal glasses were not going to work. I'd like to get him a proper pair but I can't spend a lot of money on another pair of glasses

By julies — On Dec 25, 2011

I have a pair of prescription sports glasses that I wear when I play racquetball. They may not look very fashionable, but I feel much safer this way.

My vision is too poor to not have any kind of glasses on. I usually wear contact lenses, but want some additional protection when I am playing racquetball.

This was the best solution for me. I have the protection I need from the ball, yet am able to see clearly.

The way the glasses fit around my head I don't have to worry about them falling off or getting lopsided. This leaves me free to concentrate on the game.

By bagley79 — On Dec 24, 2011

No matter what the weather is, I always wear a pair of goggles when I ski. Many times they might just be on top of my head, but you never know when you are going to need them.

You never know when it might start snowing and trying to ski in the snow without goggles is dangerous for yourself and those around you.

I also like to wear them on sunny days as you can ski so much better without the glare of the sun.

You can spend a lot of money on a really nice pair of goggles. My experience is to buy one cheap pair at the beginning of the season.

The goggles usually only last one season before they are too scratched, but I am not out much money. There has been more than once when I have lost or misplaced an expensive pair of goggles.

Now I just plan on buying at least one pair every season, but only expect them to get me through a few months.

By honeybees — On Dec 23, 2011

@jmc88 - Come to think of it, you usually don't see many people wearing sports glasses when you see someone participating in basketball, soccer, biking, etc.

I guess it depends on what the sport is that determines the level of eye protection someone needs.

I often wear a pair of sport sunglasses when we go motorcycle riding though. In our state, we are not required to wear a helmet, so there are many times when I just put on a pair of sport glasses.

With something like riding a motorcycle, it is crucial you have on a pair of glasses. Not only do you get protection from the sun, but from any debris that might get in your eyes and block your vision.

By matthewc23 — On Dec 23, 2011

@jmc88 - I absolutely agree with you. I almost never see sports glasses nowadays due to the advances and cheapness of contact lenses.

Contact lenses should be chosen one hundred out of one hundred times if you are looking to have optimal peripheral vision in order to improve your vision while playing sports.

I honestly think that sports glasses are a thing of the past and that only in rare instances, like some sort of vision problem or eye ailment, will someone want to wear these glasses.

There are too many disadvantages that come with choosing sports glasses over contact lenses that it is not worth debating between the two.

By jmc88 — On Dec 22, 2011

@TreeMan - One question that I have concerning these sports glasses is how common are they today?

I remember being a kid in the 1990's and seeing these sports glasses all over the place and they were used by people that played sports because contact lenses were phenomenally expensive.

However, in the last ten years contact lenses have drastically reduced in price and people tend to wear these while playing sports as opposed to these bulky glasses.

The only time I ever see people wear these sports glasses is when they have some issue with their eye or if they have certain vision problems where they cannot wear contacts.

I have not seen someone voluntarily wear these glasses lately while playing sports without having some story or reason attached to them such as an ailment of some kind.

By TreeMan — On Dec 22, 2011

@kentuckycat - You are absolutely correct. I remember those old sports glasses that people would wear and I have to be honest and say that they were quite an eyesore.

Now, despite what they looked like those sports glasses back in the day got the job done and were worn fairly often.

I even remember seeing that a few NBA basketball players as well as a few NFL football players wearing these glasses and even one saying that it greatly improved his peripheral vision, something that he would have not been able to do with regular eye glasses.

By kentuckycat — On Dec 21, 2011

I used to wear sports glasses while I played basketball and I have to say I looked fairly goofy looking.

I could not wear contacts, due to the way my vision is, and I was afraid to wear my glasses, due to the physicality of the sport. That is why I invested in a pair of sports glasses and they were very big and bulky and looked very odd on me.

However, this was when I was a lot younger and was back before the year 2000. I have noticed recently, by watching high school games, that sports glasses have evolved and actually do not look so bad or as goofy looking as in the past.

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari, a talented writer, editor, and project manager, crafts high-quality, engaging, and informative content for various outlets and brands. With a degree in English and certifications in project management, he brings his passion for storytelling and project management expertise to his work, launching and growing successful media projects. His ability to understand and communicate complex topics effectively makes him a valuable asset to any content creation team.
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