How to Protect Your Eyes During Exercise

Emergency room doctors treat an estimated 42,000 sports-related eye injuries each year in the U.S. Nearly all of them could be prevented with protective eyewear.
Older man wearing protective eyewear while taking a break from outdoor racquetball
Sports at moderate to high risk for eye injuries include: basketball, baseball, softball, ice hockey, tennis, soccer, volleyball, football, fishing, and golf. Studies show that protective eyewear does not hinder the player’s sight while participating in athletics. In fact, some athletes can even play better because they’re less afraid of getting hit in the eye.

Play it safe! Protect your eyes:

  • Protective eyewear includes safety glasses and goggles, safety shields, and eye guards that are specially designed to provide the right protection for a certain activity.
  • You still need protective eyewear that’s approved for your sport even if you don’t wear glasses or contacts.
  • Ordinary prescription glasses, contact lenses, and sunglasses do not protect you from sports-related eye injury. You need to wear safety goggles over them.
  • Experts recommend ultra-strong polycarbonate lenses for eye protection. Make sure they are in sport-appropriate frames or goggles.
  • Many eye care providers sell protective eyewear, as do some sporting goods stores. Protective eyewear is sport-specific with the proper American Society for Testing and Materials standards written on the packaging. This makes it easy to decide which pair is best for each activity.

For more information about eye health, visit the National Eye Institute at NIH website.