The “cool” factor, for some, may still be missing.
Yet, with a range of far more fashionable models and colors now available, these are no longer your father’s nerdy-looking sports goggles. And, like bike helmets or knee pads, they can be critical to a child’s safety.
With children back at school, and many actively participating in sports, Dr. Diane Suarez, an optometrist at Open Door Family Medical Center in Ossining, strongly encourages her young patients to wear sports goggles when playing sports ranging from soccer to basketball, baseball to racquet sports. The speed and size of the balls, she said, can cause a great deal of damage to the eye, as can getting hit with elbows or poked by fingers during close combat.
“Ninety percent of eye injuries are preventable with proper eyewear,” said Dr. Suarez. “As kids are returning to school and sports activities, eye injuries like retinal detachments and corneal abrasions will increase. The way to prevent this is to wear proper eyewear.”
Sports goggles, she said, should be used to replace prescription eyewear when playing sports. “Regular frames are not designed to take any kind of impact, leaving the eye vulnerable. When they break, they can also cut the skin on the nose and cause lacerations to the eyelids. With sports goggles, the lenses are made of polycarbonate, which is a much more impact-resistant material than regular plastic lenses. When hit by a ball they won’t shatter into pieces that can penetrate the eye. That’s very important when playing sports.”
Sports goggles can also be worn over contact lenses and with no prescription in the lenses for those whose vision does not require an Rx.
Sports goggles come with an adjustable strap that keeps them secure and can include transition lenses that are clear inside and darken outside in the sunlight. Prescriptions can be changed within the sports goggles, so the same goggles can last for years. From a safety perspective, they enclose the eyes, which blocks out wind, dust, dirt, and debris. This can be important for youngsters who dirt bike or snowboard.
Working at Home
Dr. Suarez said that during the pandemic, during a time when many patients held off seeing their eye doctor for routine vision appointments, emergency eye visits increased. “People had more free time and many were doing projects around the house,” she said. “We saw many people with small foreign bodies in their eye, which they may have gotten doing construction, yard work, or mechanics.
“Polycarbonate protective goggles should be worn whether you’re doing construction work, cutting the lawn and especially weed whacking. A rock or pebble or piece of metal can get loose and perforate a person’s eye very easily. Protective goggles are readily available at any hardware store. As a parent, wearing goggles when working in your own house or professionally also sends a good message to your kids.”
The importance of sports goggles struck close to home for Dr. Suarez several years ago when her son, then about nine and shortly after getting glasses for his vision, was playing soccer. When I first suggested sports goggles, he said ‘Oh, mom, I’m not going to wear them. They’re ugly.’” That was before he was hit with the soccer ball, breaking his frames and causing superficial lacerations to his nose and eyelid. Although all children’s glasses are made with polycarbonate lenses, the frame itself is not strong enough to withstand a direct hit from a ball. Sports googles are needed.
“That was me not being forceful enough. Right after this, he said, ‘Mom, let’s go buy sports goggles.’ They were the right material, with a transitional lens, designed specifically for sports. His teammates noticed and soon they were wearing sports goggles, too.”