Do you have a little athlete? If your kids play sports — whether competitively or just for fun — they’re at greater risk of eye injuries. Here’s what you need to know about protective eyewear.

You put your kids in sports because there are such a variety of health benefits. But one misfired ball, elbow, or puck could lead to a devastating, even blinding, eye injury.

Eye injuries — of which there are 40,000 every year caused by sports — are the leading cause of blindness in children, according to the National Institute of Health’s National Eye Institute (NEI). And it’s estimated that 90% of those injuries could be prevented by proper protective eyewear.

If your child plays a sport where he or she could come face to face with any kind of ball, bat, puck or other fast-moving object, then they may be at high risk. Likewise for sports that put them in close contact with other players. The sports that see the highest incidents of eye injuries are basketball and baseball. Water sports and racquet sports are also high on the list.

To protect your children’s eyes from blunt trauma, penetrating injuries, and radiation injuries caused by the sun, it’s recommended that all parents consider protective sports glasses for kids. These kinds of glasses aren’t just for helping your kids see. In fact, every child, whether they need prescription eyewear or not, should be protecting their eyes.

Here are a few things that you should be sure to look for when shopping for protective sports glasses and goggles for your athletic kiddos.

Are they sport-specific?

While many sports glasses can be functional for a variety of sports, there are some key features you’ll want to make sure the glasses have depending on your child’s sport of choice.

For example, basketball and soccer players should wear wraparound sports goggles or glasses, while ice hockey requires a full-face helmet. Skiers and snowboarders should wear goggles that reduce glare from the snow and that also protect eyes from the sun. There are several choices on the market that offer optics for increased visibility and clarity, so your child can perform better while staying protected.

How durable are they?

Durability is crucial for just about anything a kid wears, and protective eyewear is no different. Regular eyeglass lenses can shatter upon impact, further endangering your child’s eyes.

Look for lenses that are made from polycarbonate or Trivex. Those materials are both lightweight and shatter resistant. Spring hinges are another feature, and durable frames made from materials that offer flex and grip during play also enhance durability.

What level of protection do they offer?

Of course, any outdoor sport needs glasses that offer UV protection. There are other standards that you should look for, as well. In order to be considered up to the task of defending eyes against the dangers of sport, brands must meet the protective eyewear standards published by The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

To know your child is getting the ultimate protection for high-impact activities, look for the designation “ASTM F803” when selecting glasses. This means the materials have passed rigorous testing, including high velocity impact resistance tests.

Are they comfortable and adjustable?

It can be tough to find just the right fit in glasses for little faces. Glasses that are too loose won’t offer the necessary protection, and if glasses are too tight, your child might revolt and refuse to wear them.

At a minimum, opt for eyewear that offers adjustable nose pads and adjustable straps or wraparound bands, so you can fine-tune the fit. Some of the more innovative sports glasses companies use click and twist systems for a secure fit. Molded padding can also improve the comfort.

What’s the difference between sports goggles and glasses?

Both glasses and goggles can offer unique advantages, but there are some differences.

Sports glasses for kids are designed to be durable and withstand the impacts they may be exposed to during a game or match. You can find kids’ prescription sports glasses if your child wears corrective lenses.

Sports goggles, on the other hand, are designed to slip over existing eyewear to offer an extra layer of protection to the face. The right choice for your child will really depend on his or her vision requirements and the type of sports they play. Talk to your eye doctor or optician to get started.

Need help selecting the right sports glasses or goggles for your child? Whatever his or her favorite sport is, we’re here to walk you through the different options and help you find glasses that meet the necessary standards for protection, durability, and fit. Make an appointment today.

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