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How to Select Basketball Glasses or Goggles



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According to the National Society to Prevent Blindness, almost 7,000 injuries were found to be related to playing basketball. This only represents the injuries that were reported, so the number can be even more than that. Typically, the injury is sustained from a finger poking 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. Even if you need a slight vision correction, it will help you see the ball one second sooner, or help your aim by a fraction of an inch. 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 or finger.  2mm polycarbonate 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 basketball 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.  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. 
  • Coverage: The frame must cover the entire eye socket, not only the eyeball itself. Impact to any of the "soft" parts of the eye can cause serious damage. Look for a frame that sits closely to the face, as a finger can easily make its way through any gap. Shields can easily become dislodged so a finger can penetrate underneath. Be careful if choosing this option. 
  • Padding: The frame should have padding at the temple points and bridge points to "cushion the blow". Padding will absorb some of the shock to lessen the overall impact, and to help prevent injury to the bone structure. 
  • Sports Band: The frame should be secured by an elasticized band, not temple pieces. You want something that will be secured tight to the head so that it won't fall off. A frame with temples will not hold tight enough, and a jab from a finger could lift the frame off, and make its way to the eye.  If temple pieces are used, strap should be used. But goggles with strap only are more secure than ones with temple pieces and then straps.
  • Lens Color and Coatings      A clear lens provides the best visual acuity indoors.  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. 
  • Prescription Lenses: Polycarbonate  or Trivex  lenses are the only materials that should be used for prescription lenses for safety reasons.   Fogging is the most common problem associated with prescription lenses.  Select a goggle that has good ventilation to control fogging.  An Anti-Fog coating can also be added to prescription lenses only.  This will help control fogging better than just spray or gel solutions do (although this is a less expensive option for those less prone to fogging).

Recommended Styles: Liberty Sport,  Hilco, Progear, Wiley-X, Bolle and Versport for sports goggles that meet ASTM standards for sports, or Wiley-X , Rudy Project, and Tifosi (tactical products only)  (do not meet ASTM standards but are more stylish and have ANSI ratings).   These styles can be fit with a prescription lens or insert.

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