By Linda Conlin

High-performance eyewear is essential gear that athletes willingly invest in, just as they invest in their other expensive gear. There are moments in our lives that require specific lenses to meet specific visual challenges and none more than the eyewear worn by even the casual athlete. With the variety of sports, lenses must be personalized based on the wearer’s visual needs and fitting parameters. A good pair of sport glasses will protect the eyes from the sun, wind and environmental debris while providing excellent coverage and impact protection.

Think about all that sports performance eyewear must deliver: excellent dynamic vision—the ability to see moving objects clearly; excellent vision tracking—the ability to follow the track of a moving object; superb depth perception—the ability to judge the distance and speed of objects; and exceptional contrast sensitivity—the ability to detect subtle differences in shading and patterns. Lenses must accommodate rapid changes in the focal distance so the athlete can bring objects at different distances into focus fast; and wide and clear peripheral zones, so the athlete has excellent image stability and undistorted peripheral vision.

Tip: It’s important to know the sports your patients enjoy and the visual demands for each. Focus first on their most frequent visual need relative to their sport. Sports gear is important to enthusiasts and weekend warriors, and both are willing to invest in quality gear, including eyewear.

High-performance prescription eyewear needs to be lightweight and impact-resistant, with the outstanding coverage of wrap frames. Today’s sport lens advanced digital designs provide an expanded distance visual field by optimizing and minimizing oblique aberration in the periphery. This is especially important for patients who need progressive lenses. Equally important are lens enhancements to improve durability, safety, optical performance and overall aesthetics. These enhancements include durable scratch-resistant mirror-coatings with hydrophobic and oleophobic properties, plus premium backside anti-reflective coatings. Premium anti-scratch coatings provide protection from scratching, crazing, peeling and cracking. Any athlete can tell you about the danger and distraction of fogged lenses in cold or humid weather conditions and temperature changes. For this reason, be sure to include an anti-fog coating.

Tip: Athletes understand the importance of durability in their equipment and clothing such as footwear. Explain to your patient the features and benefits of performance eyewear, lenses and treatments. You do the athlete a disservice if you don’t make them aware of the options.

Fitting sport frames is a subtle art of blending function and fashion. The lenses should follow the shape of the face without resting on the patient’s cheeks. The temples should gently but firmly hug the sides of the head. Make sure the preferred sport frame is compatible with the customer’s helmet. Everything has to fit together comfortably and look sharp. You might encourage your customer to bring their helmet with them when choosing the frame. Confirm the frame’s compatibility with the helmet and find a frame color that matches or creates a striking contrast. But remember not all sport frames are made for prescription lenses. Be especially wary of frames purchased at a bike shop, online or sporting goods store.

Lens color is important for individual sports, too. Photochromic lenses provide excellent performance for a wide variety of light conditions in outdoor sports. Gray tints reduce transmittance equally without affecting the true color of observed objects. Red or pink lenses will provide better contrast in lower light conditions such as dawn, dusk, overcast or rainy days. Yellow lenses improve contrast in fog. And polarized lenses provide the best protection from blinding reflected glare, such as from court pavements, roads and snow.

Tip: Light conditions can vary for many sports. Know that photochromic lenses are available in many base colors. Also consider a sport frame with interchangeable lenses of different colors, including clear.

Build a loyal long-term business relationship with your patients. Give them something they want that is difficult to find elsewher—eyewear that will give them bragging rights and enhance their performance in these healthy and fun activities. Feed their passion! Just like other elements of their kit, their sport eyewear will need replacement regularly due to changes in prescription, normal wear and tear, or the dictates of fashion. Don’t worry about the price tag. Remember, athletes invest in their gear to elevate their performance, and that isn’t cheap! Help them understand the margin of safety and enjoyment they will get from their new sport eyewear. As an eyecare professional, it’s our duty to steer customers to a pair of sport glasses for safety’s sake. And today, beautiful, elegant technologies are available that provide unsurpassed visual performance, clarity and comfort.