How do glasses work with sports and tweens?
June 30, 2021 3:04 PM   Subscribe

I have a kid who is starting to be image conscious and also wears glasses and wants to try a lot of sports. I don’t play sports or wear glasses. I have noticed athletes wear goggles or safety glasses sometimes. Do kids wear those? Will she feel bad? Can you help?

She’s interested in volleyball and just joined lessons. I’m worried about her getting hit in the face. Should I get her goggles? Is that what athletes wear? She also likes basketball but I think volleyball may be her favorite. We found her prescription swim goggles and those are great. But I’m worried the sports goggles may make her feel self conscious (she’s also getting more aware of her appearance and starting puberty).
I am very far from athletic and I don’t know what the safety standards are for sports and glasses. I asked her optometrist when contact lenses could be an option and he seemed to think that was an odd question and said “maybe 16.” But I would think maybe 13 or 14? I thought it would help her with sports, I don’t know.
Any advice about helping her have fun and not mind her glasses would be great.
posted by areaperson to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (26 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I played volleyball in regular glasses all the time. It was fine. If I were in charge, I might make sure she had a backup pair just in case something happened to them.
posted by advicepig at 3:12 PM on June 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I meant to ask, “How do glasses and sports work?” Not how “did” they work. Also: if you have suggestions for a sport that is easier for kids with glasses, please suggest it! Thanks!

On preview: That’s good news, advicepig! Thanks!
posted by areaperson at 3:13 PM on June 30, 2021

I would maybe talk to another optometrist about contacts? I dunno. I was going to say contacts would be the way to go. You get much better peripheral vision, which I'm sure would be helpful for sports.
posted by number9dream at 3:15 PM on June 30, 2021 [8 favorites]

If I wore glasses, I’d probably want to play sports in contacts. But unless she’s Scott Sterling, volleyball is probably one of the better sports for glasses. Little incidental contact to the face, unlike, say, basketball.

Rec Specs are a thing, though. When I was growing up they were nerdy, but they seem to have had a bit of a hipster renaissance recently.
posted by kevinbelt at 3:21 PM on June 30, 2021

Best answer: The biggest reason my peers all got their first contacts as kids was because of sports. There was only one kid who wore rec specs and everyone made fun of him. Kids are nicer now, but still. Contacts were definitely the number one choice for athletic tweens.
posted by phunniemee at 3:23 PM on June 30, 2021 [3 favorites]

I started wearing contact lenses at 14. It definitely helped with activities, including dance classes -- no more glasses sliding down your nose! The peripheral vision thing is a game-changer, and for most people, depth perception is better. I remember when I first got contacts, how amazed I was that the world was ... in 3-D!

The main thing is whether your kid is going to be responsible about cleaning them and changing them regularly. (I was kind of bad about that, tbh. Still am.)

Non-ball sports (track, crew) are going to be inherently safer for kids with glasses, but it's more important that your kid enjoy herself with whatever she does.
posted by basalganglia at 3:25 PM on June 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Personally, I started wearing contacts at 11. Sports were pretty much a non-issue because of that. My optometrist had zero issues with contacts at that age.
posted by mosst at 3:35 PM on June 30, 2021

Best answer: Also chiming in to say that while things certainly could have changed since my childhood, I got contacts when I was around 11-12, partially to play sports (I was also afraid of being hit in the face with glasses while playing softball). I'm surprised your optometrist doesn't think they're an option. Dailies are much more expensive compared to monthlies, but if the cost is not an issue, they basically remove the cleaning requirements that kids (including young me) may struggle with.

(Sorry this isn't answering your question about glasses specifically; I couldn't tell from your question if you had only decided against contacts because of your daughter's optometrist, or if your daughter isn't interested in them!)
posted by catabananza at 3:36 PM on June 30, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I wear glasses doing Martial Arts, including kind of rolling around/upside down throws etc.

For fogging, there's a great anti-fog spray out (works for masks too!) - I don't have the brand in front of me but ask your optician. It's the hot pandemic accessory.

The easiest solution to start with is a sports band for her glasses ("sports eyeglass band"), which she can tighten and will hold her regular glasses on. I wouldn't worry too much about them getting broken unless she has a really unusual prescription - glasses are plastic anyway.

The next step up is to get her a second pair of sports frames - if she's practicing outside she probably wants sunglasses anyway. There are lenses that are slightly better/lighter, and there are frames where there's a snap-on strap and other ones that curve around - you want them pretty flexible as that will help keep them on. Oakley and Nike are two brands I've poked around at. They're just plain more comfortable.

Sports goggles are probably the most functional but the sports frames are more stylish.
posted by warriorqueen at 3:49 PM on June 30, 2021 [3 favorites]

I played basketball in rec-specs in the early-90s. There were a few of us who wore them. Added bonus was it kept defensive fingers out of my eyes for the most part. If I was teased for the rec-specs I don't recall -- I was teased for a number of other things, so that didn't stand out to me. Contacts weren't ever presented to me as an option back then, though, and likely would have been too expensive at the time for my parents to really consider them.

I've preferred wearing glasses even when contacts did become a realistic option. When I played rec basketball at the Y in my 20s, I got an updated pair of rec-specs, and was quite happy with the performance (plus, no random fingers). I currently have a pair of prescription wrap around sports glasses for mountain-biking, which again give the added bonus of keeping bugs & dirt out of my eyes.
posted by chiefthe at 3:53 PM on June 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

Contacts. I broke several pairs of sports and regular glasses and then had a broken nose exacerbated by the glasses. This was soccer and a little more hands on but I didn't have a lot of success with glasses. YMMV.
posted by coldbabyshrimp at 4:14 PM on June 30, 2021

I was made to wear contacts in high school and always had red eyes. Plus I lost one in the space above my eye and it's probably still there. In my opinion, your optometrist is right to suggest waiting until 16 for contacts.

(Good glasses stay on your face just fine, in my experience. Just don't try swimming in the ocean with them.)
posted by aniola at 4:24 PM on June 30, 2021

Best answer: My kid played volleyball for a several years and wore their regular glasses for practices, and never had a problem. Also, to the best of my recollection, kid never got hit in the face when playing or practicing,

Eventually, they tried contacts for volleyball (and cosplay) - the optometrist recommended daily wear, which solves the problem for cleaning and storage. It took a couple of hours for kid to learn how to put them in and remove by themselves, but for various reasons they preferred glasses over contacts.
posted by mogget at 4:33 PM on June 30, 2021

I played sports in glasses throughout my childhood with no real ill effect. I had the glasses that wrap around the back of your ear during the years when I did gymnastics, but we never had the money for rec specs so I played in normal glasses and it was almost completely fine. The one time it was an issue I got hit flush in the middle of the face by a basketball and my glasses snapped in half at the nose bridge; I needed replacement glasses but was otherwise fine.

So I'd say it's almost certainly fine as-is, though the idea upthread to make sure you have backup glasses is smart. If your kid wants contacts go for it, if you want to do rec specs that's a good option too, but I think, certainly to start, your kid should be totally fine just playing in normal glasses.
posted by lhputtgrass at 4:50 PM on June 30, 2021

Best answer: I started wearing contact lenses at 14 after my normal glasses also got snapped in two by a basketball to the face. Before that I spent several years playing basketball and hockey with no issues that I remember.
posted by bashing rocks together at 5:01 PM on June 30, 2021

Best answer: If your child is not a blocker in volleyball (ask her what position she plays), she is unlikely to get hit in the face. That doesn't mean it won't happen, but I got hit in the face and bent my glasses way more playing indoor soccer in gym class than volleyball.

I'd make sure she has a backup pair with her at all times, not just one available at home.

I can't speak to the sports goggles (the teens I know wear contacts for sports). I started wearing contacts at age 14 for sports; I wish I hadn't tried to wear them all the time because while the hard contacts prevented my eyesight from getting worse, they did cause constant red eyes.

I've since had lasik.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 5:23 PM on June 30, 2021

Response by poster: Thank you everyone! I knew you would help! Ms. Vegetable, she doesn’t have a position yet, but I’ll keep that in mind. I’m glad she likes volleyball so much, it seems like a lot of fun and it’s a relief to hear glasses are relatively safe for it. I think I will try a new optometrist and keep contacts in mind for when she’s a little older (and if she’s interested). I am grateful to live in a time of more affordable glasses, it’s awesome that she can easily have prescription sunglasses and fun glasses. Thanks again!
posted by areaperson at 5:39 PM on June 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

I would add a cautionary word. I wore regular glasses when playing volleyball. About 3 weeks before my wedding, I dived for a ball and crashed into a post. Broke my glasses and had to go to the ER for stitches on my eyebrow. Still have the scar 35 years later. Go with contacts if you can, or goggles.
posted by baegucb at 6:33 PM on June 30, 2021

I'm not sure what the current state of the art is for glasses frame materials (having had Lasik some years back), but a quick Googling suggests that there are normal-looking glasses designed to be more flexible and less breaking that you might want to look into. Years ago I broke plastic-framed glasses when I crashed my bicycle, and I was very lucky that the broken frames "only" gouged my eyelid and under my eye and missed damaging the eye itself. Hopefully that wouldn't happen with sports impacts, but better safe than sorry when it comes to eyeballs.
posted by LadyOscar at 6:37 PM on June 30, 2021

I've played volleyball in glasses or sunglasses for many years. There's a chance of getting hit in the face but it's not very common and even if it happens it's not likely to break the glasses, especially at a beginner level where the balls will be coming without a huge amount of force. More likely they'll just get knocked off - it's happened to me a few times and at worst I got a small bruise on my nose once. You could also get a set of very cheap ones for sports so if they do break it's not a big deal.

I do prefer playing in contacts but it's definitely not necessary and is mostly for the slightly improved peripheral vision. I would never wear goggles now let alone as a teen but I'm way on the more self-conscious end of the spectrum.
posted by randomnity at 7:36 PM on June 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

At that age she might not have the diligence for monthly contact lenses, but dailies remedy that. You can tell her that it'll do wonders for her eyeliner skills later because of the practice of keeping hands steady near the eyes :)

I lost several pairs of glasses to falls and ball hits in basketball in high school, but I always preferred frameless glasses and they just don't stand up to impact. Peers with similar clumsiness but titanium-framed glasses fared much better, so that's something to investigate.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 1:53 AM on July 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

As a kid, I always had glasses that hooked around the ear. As an adult, I wear croakies, or similar, to keep my glasses from being knocked off.
posted by SemiSalt at 4:39 AM on July 1, 2021

I'd just add to make sure her glasses have the hinges that are flexible in both directions.
posted by sepviva at 7:29 PM on July 1, 2021

Swimming is actually a great sport for wearing glasses. Non-contact, everyone is wearing goggles, you can get prescription goggles if you need them but I'm medium blind and just wear regular ones.
posted by dame at 2:42 PM on July 3, 2021

Depending on where you live, her glasses might already be safety glasses. I can't find a link to back this up, but I believe my eye doctor told me that all glasses sold to children in my state are required to have lenses (and frames?) that qualify them to be safety glasses.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:32 AM on July 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

Yeah the modern plastic is hard to break. I've fallen off horses and been hit in the face with a polo mallet and never broken my glasses.
posted by sepviva at 3:39 PM on July 11, 2021

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