Sports Eyewear Marries Fashion and Function for a Winning Combination

By Keith Smithson, OD May 09, 2016

The launch of the Spring 2016 Nike Running Collection brings the topic of true “sports glasses” versus “sports goggles” as an easy conversation piece with many of my athletic patients who are seeking proper vision correction for their sport of choice. The cosmetic and functional upgrades are incredibly helpful in encouraging use of appropriate and safe eyewear for adults and children, alike. Marrying fashion and function is a winning combination.

Important factors I consider when fitting sports glasses are the weight and fit of the frame. Runners, for example, want a lightweight frame that fits snug to the head and won’t move around when running. Most sports glasses will be fit with single vision lenses, however, feel comfortable at least having the conversation of using progressive lenses for sports frames for your over-40 athletes. Many runners and cyclers will want to be able to look down at a watch, speedometer or some other wearable technology.

I also discuss photochromic lens technology for those looking to have their sports eyewear continue to be functional over longer term competition in varying light conditions, such as long distance running and golf. We discuss the pros and cons of function and ultimate safety using full frames versus rimless frame designs. Finally, I don’t underestimate the fact that the sports eyewear needs to look cool! I personally walk my patient out to the dispensary and get them started with a couple of frames I recommend for them, for the sport they play and regarding the factors above that were discussed in the exam room.  Never forget the power of the doctors to “prescribe,” not recommend, the necessary sports eyewear.

Having a conversation about UV protection is another essential point to include during any eye exam, especially when discussing eye health with athletes. Most athletes understand and appreciate the need for suncreen when competing in outdoor sports environments, however, they neglect ultraviolet protection for their eyes.

Prescription sun coverage has long been an option for most insurance plans. However, I’ve found plano sun coverage to be a little more elusive. I have long been an advocate for plano UV protection coverage as a part of vision insurance plans, to truly define the importance of UV protection in the scope of overall eye health. VSP has been an example of such a vision care plan that offers more than just discounts on eyewear. I’ve found many VSP plans have plano sun coverage for post-refractive surgery patients, as well as patients who have elected to have that benefit. This speaks to the importance of UV protection for the patients, and we as optometrists should echo this level of concern.

As optometrists and business owners we should always look to find opportunities to carve out a unique niche in our markets. One of those opportunities to differentiate your practice from a “big box store” is to offer specialty testing, training, or products for athletes. The appropriate use of sports eyewear can also help your bottom line by increasing second-pair sales.

Learn more about the technology and development behind the new Nike Running Collection.

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