According to the National Society to prevent blindness, almost 7,000 injuries were found to be related to playing baseball. This only represents the injuries that were reported, so the number can be even more than that. Typically, the injury is sustained from a ball striking the batter or runner directly in the eye. Injuries can be prevented through the use of sport goggles. These goggles not only provide protection from injury, but can also be fit with your prescription in them. Look for the following when selecting the right type of goggle:
Polycarbonate Lenses: This is the most important property of all protective goggles. Good polycarb is virtually unbreakable, and will sustain the impact of a ball. 3mmpolycarbonate is what is recommended for the ASTM safety standard. But there are also quality issues with polycarbonate. Low end polycarbonate will have a lot of distortion in the lens which may reduce reaction time. Look for higher quality, high end polycarbonate lenses to minimize distortion. Trivex or NXT based products can also be considered. Trivex has better impact resistance than CR-39 plastic (but not as high as polycarbonate) but has minimal distortion. In prescription, this is a great option.
Durable Frame Design: The frame must also be able to withstand the impact of a ball . Therefore, a frame made out of polycarbonate is the the best choice. Frames rated with ASTM F803 standard is the best option. This is a government sports safety standard that encompasses all ball/stick sports. This rating also ensures lenses are 3mm thick polycarbonate for the best impact resistance. A popular choice for baseball is also a shield design where the whole front of the frame is a lens made out of polycarbonate, with temples made of plastic or some other material. This is also a suitable choice, and if you play at different times of the day, the shield can be interchanged with other colors to block sunlight (see Lens colors). However, most shields do not meet the ASTM safety rating. Look for at least ANSI (military safety rating) standard for shields to ensure better impact resistance than just standard sunglass frames.
Ultraviolet Protection: Since baseball is played outdoors, you need to protect yourself from ultraviolet radiation. (For more information, see UV and its Effects on the Eyes). Anytime you go with a high quality polycarbonate or Trivex/NXT lens, UV will automatically be included in the lenses even with clear lenses.
Lens Color: If you are playing during the day, the sun can be blinding, especially for outfielders. Therefore, a tinted lens, typically a brown in color, can help you distinguish the ball better against the blue of the sky or the green of the grass. If playing at night, you want the lens to be clear to give the best visual acuity. An anti-reflective coating can also be placed on the lens to absorb additional glare off the stadium lighting. A regular lens reflects 8% of incidental light, while an anti-reflective coating applied to the lens will allow 99% of the light to pass through the lens, giving the best visual acuity. The only downside to Anti-reflective coatings are they have to be kept fairly clean. This may inconvenient in a sports environment. A yellow lens can also be used to cut the glare of overhead lighting. However, the lens color will reduce visual acuity slowing down reaction times.
Sports Band: Traditional sports goggles have a sports band attached to it, but for shield designs, it advisable to get a sports band to ensure the frame stays on your face.
Recommended Styles: Rec-Specs or Hilco for sports goggles that meet ASTM standards for sports, or Wiley-X , Rudy Project (tactical products only) or Numa for a shields (do not meet ASTM standards but are more stylish and have ANSI ratings). These styles can be fit with a prescription lens or insert.
If you are not concerned with the safety standards, Rudy Project has a flip up styles: the Exception which is also available with a prescription lens. Flip ups let you quickly flip down a sun lens for catching fly balls. Kaenon is also popular for baseball as many major leaguers are now wearing this brand. Also, the Gargoyles flip ups as well (no prescription available) . Peakvision also has their dual lens technology so that the lens is darker at the top and lighter at the bottom. This blocks more light from above, but makes sure it is not too dark for more natural vision when looking at the field. The lower portion of the lens is also an amber color to increase contrast.
To Improve Your Game: Check out our vision training products including the Bat-Rac here.