How to Buy Eye Safety Gear for Sports

Medically Reviewed by Whitney Seltman, OD on November 09, 2022

Protective eye gear may not look all that cool when you’re on the basketball court or the baseball diamond, but it gets the job done when it comes to protecting your eyes.

If you’re into a sport, you don’t think twice about wearing a helmet to cushion your head, or pads and braces for your bones and joints. You take extra steps to prevent concussions, broken bones, bruises, and chipped teeth, so why not do the same to guard against vision loss, a scratched cornea, or a fractured eye socket?

Broken bones and bruises will heal, but a serious eye injury can put you on the disabled list for the rest of your life.

What’s Best for Each Sport?

No matter which one you choose, your eyes are at risk from wayward balls, flying equipment like racquets or bats, and even other players' body parts -- fingers, elbows, and feet are the most common.

Kids should always use eye protection, especially if they aren’t all that skilled yet or haven’t developed good physical coordination.

Baseball: Choose a sturdy plastic or polycarbonate face guard, along with goggles or eye guards.

Basketball: Goggles

Soccer: Eye guards

Football: Eye guards and a full face guard

Hockey: A mask made of polycarbonate material or wire

Tennis or racquetball: Goggles

How Do I Know It’ll Work?

Regular sunglasses and sometimes even safety glasses don't provide all the protection you need. Look for products designed for your specific sport. And try these tips:

  • Buy eye guards at a sports store or optical store, and have someone familiar with your eyesight and the sport fit them for you.
  • Make sure lenses are secure. If one pops inward, it could damage your eye.
  • Look for cushioning along your eyebrows and the edge of your nose so they don’t cut or scratch your face.

Get a product with UV protection to shield your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.