About Protective Eyewear


Wearing protective sports eyewear is as important as putting on other protective gear such as helmets and pads.  And, even if a sport requires a helmet or face mask, your eyes are often still left vulnerable to debris and blunt impact.  Although eye protection can't prevent every injury, the use of proper eye protection has helped to reduce the number and severity of eye injuries. More than 90% of sports- and recreation-related eye injuries can be prevented by using appropriate eye and facial protection.4

Studies also show that protective eyewear does not hinder sight. Proper protective eyewear (even if you don’t wear prescription glasses or contact lenses) can actually aid performance because players do not worry about sustaining an eye injury and can instead devote their full attention and effort to their performance.6

Everyday dresswear eyeglasses, sunglasses, and contact lenses don’t offer adequate protection to guard against potential  eye injuries and can actually make an injury worse — but most Rx-able protective eyewear can be made to match glasses or contact lens prescriptions. Everyday dress eyewear should not be worn under protective eyewear,  as most sports protective eyewear has not been designed and tested to accommodate such use.  Types of protective eyewear for sports include safety goggles, face guards, and special eyewear designed for specific sports.   If you’re not sure what type of protective eyewear your child needs, ask your child’s eye care professional.


Everyday dresswear eyeglasses, sunglasses, and contact lenses don't offer adequate protection

What You Need to Know About Protective Eyewear


ASTM F3164 is the new standard for eye protectors worn by players of racquet sports

Protective sports eyewear should be designed and manufactured to meet or exceed applicable US (ASTM) impact protection standards. All protective sports eyewear must have polycarbonate lenses, a type of plastic that’s designed to withstand impact, and also protect eyes from ultraviolet rays.  Regular eyeglasses have only 4 to 5 percent of the impact resistance of polycarbonate of comparable thickness.7

ASTM International, one of the largest voluntary standards developing organizations in the world, sets the standards that eye protection must meet to help prevent eye injuries in different sports. Each sport has a specific ASTM standard, which is based on impact testing to best determine the eyewear’s ability to help prevent an ocular injury in consideration of the unique elements of play and equipment associated with a particular sport.

The  standard that specifically relates to eye protection for most sports is ASTM F803. Among sports that currently fall under this standard are baseball, softball, basketball, football, and volleyball to name a few.   But that is starting to change to ensure that the standards for eye protection keep pace with the latest advancements in specific sports.

For example, in 2019, ASTM F3164, a new standard for eye protectors worn by players of racquet sports such as tennis, racquetball and squash, replaced ASTM F803 to address specialized performance considerations for those sports.  An ASTM subcommittee, comprised of technical experts from manufacturer product engineers, physicians, league officials and consumer representatives, continues to address the specific considerations of sports that carry dissimilar environments of use and risks of injury to the athlete due to different rules, equipment and styles of play, so it is anticipated that more sports-specific standards will eventually replace ASTM F803.

Before purchasing protective eyewear

Check the package and/or protector for appropriate ASTM standard designation for the sport you play.  Ask your eye care professional if an outside independent laboratory verified that the equipment meets the current standard.  Products that have undergone independent, 3rd party testing by an accredited laboratory will carry a label, such as this example.

Besides making sure the appropriate ASTM standard designation for the sport you play is on the product, check to see that a warning label or tag is securely attached to or accompanying the eye protector at time of purchase.    To help safeguard against eye injury, review all frame information before using the product.  Click here to learn more about how to take proper care of your protective sports eyewear  before you go out and play.


Check for Fit

Manufacturing to standards is not the only thing that ensures protective sport eyewear will work properly. Eyewear that fits well can help reduce injuries and increase compliance. Your eyecare professional will help you find the right eye protection gear for you. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Sports eyewear must be properly fit to the individual wearer by an Eye Care Professional.  This is particularly important with children. Check the fit of your child’s sports eyewear at the start of every season.  If the glasses or goggles are too big or too small, the amount of protection they provide will be compromised, increasing the risk of eye injury.
  • Good vision is essential for good performance, so make sure to have an annual eye exam to ensure that prescriptions are up-to-date.  Make sure you are able to see clearly in all directions without any major obstruction.
  • Your eye protection gear should be comfortable, so when trying it on, let your eye care professional know of any discomfort around the sides of your head, behind your ears, or on your nose.
  • Eyewear should stay in place when you move your head from front to back and side to side. Frame straps should always be worn when the eye gear is worn. Make sure to adjust the straps on the frames to ensure they are not too tight or too loose.
  • To help safeguard against eye injury, make sure to review all frame information on the warning label  that should accompany your eye gear.
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  1. The Aspen Institute. Fact: Sports Activity and Children. 2015 Available at https://www.aspenprojectplay.org/youth-sports-facts. Accessed February 5, 2021
  2. Sarmiento K, Thomas KE, Daugherty J, et al. Emergency Department Visits for Sports- and Recreation-Related Traumatic Brain Injuries Among Children – United States, 2010-2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2019:68:237-242  DOI: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/68/wr/mm6810a2.htm?s_cid=mm6810a2_w
  3. Kids most likely to suffer sport-related eye injuries. Source: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161103115431.htm, Accessed 2/6/21
  4. Miller, K et al. Pediatric Sports- and Recreation-Related Eye Injuries Treated in US Emergency Departments, Pediatrics, February 2018 https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/141/2/e20173083
  5. Canty G, Nilan L, Return to Play  Pediatrics in Review, 2015 Oct;36(10):438-46; quiz 447. doi: 10.1542/pir.36-10-438 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26430204/#:~:text=Based%20on%20consensus%20and%20some,until%20evaluated%20by%20an%20ophthalmologist.
  6. Think About Your Eyes.com, Sports Protection  https://thinkaboutyoureyes.com/eye-protection/sports-protection/#:~:text=Studies%20show%20that%20protective%20eyewear,and%20effort%20to%20their%20performance  accessed 2/8/21
  7. Rodriguez J, Prevention and Treatment of Common Eye Injuries in Sports, American Family Physician, April 2003 https://www.aafp.org/afp/2003/0401/p1481.html#afp20030401p1481-b1

The International Sports Vision Association is committed to helping reduce the risk of traumatic vision and head-related injuries through education about protective devices and equipment.  This important health information has been made available thanks to an educational grant provided by  Zyloware Eyewear.  Reference to any specific commercial product, process, or service does not constitute endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by ISVA.