By Deborah Kotob, ABOM

More than 36.5 million people played pickleball in 2023, according to a report by the Association of Pickleball, making it the fastest-growing sport in the U.S., and according to the Sport and Fitness Industry Association (SIFA), at a rate of 158.6 percent in the last three years. This rise in popularity corresponds to a rise in pickleball-related eye injuries. As with any sport involving a ball and a racquet, pickleball has its fair share of injuries, with eye injuries ranking number one. Protective eyewear is not required to play pickleball at any level. Yet similar racket sports such as squash and racquetball have mandatory eyewear rules across various levels of the game. Protective eyewear significantly reduces eye injury risk by preventing any object from coming into contact with the eye, whether a ball, a racket or an elbow. While players ages 18 to 34 represent the largest percentage of pickleball players at 28 percent, the sport is also popular with the active over-60 crowd, a group already at higher risk of eye injury complications like retinal detachment.

At Rudy Project, the focus is maximizing three visual parameters and eye protection for pickleball players of all ages. Maximizing vision involves enhancing visual parameters including acuity (the ability to see the ball), dynamic visual acuity (the ability to track a constantly moving pickleball and the opposing player’s positions) and contrast sensitivity (the ability to make out the ball against the background). Proper eye gear such as the Rudy Project ImpactX Photochromic 2 Laser purple and Photochromic 2 Laser red lenses mounted in award-winning Rudy Project sport frames, can enhance all visual parameters by reducing glare and enhancing color contrast so that the pickleball pops against the background, all while providing essential eye protection. And, with Rudy Project’s patented Quick Change Technology, you can swap out lenses to accommodate your activity within seconds.

In his own words, Gregg Ossip, OD, is “a pickleball addict,” an avid pickleball player and a certified PPR instructor. For best vision, eye comfort and protection, he wears Rudy Project’s Rydon frame with ImpactX Photochromic 2 Laser purple lenses. He loves his lenses because, as he puts it, “The sun is brutal, and indoor lighting is poor. Like most players, I am constantly looking for ways to improve my game, and Rudy Project provides the visual comfort and the visual contrast I need to track the ball and not strain to find the ball in the sun for overhead returns. And the eye protection the sunglasses provide from impact injury and the sun is a big plus.” Dr. Ossip confidently recommends Rudy Project for its game-changing, vision-enhancing lenses and eye protection. When asked why he sought out Rudy Project, he responds: “They have a great reputation in sport eyewear and lens technology.”

Rudy Project ImpactX Photochromic 2 Laser lenses are constructed from proprietary Trivex™, a material acclaimed for high impact resistance, durability, lightweight and excellent optical clarity. Additionally, the photochromic lenses adjust the light transmission level according to light levels from bright to low as the photochromic dye molecules activate and darken in response to the UV and visible light exposure level. Combine the Rudy Project ImpactX Photochromic 2 Laser lenses with their lightweight, streamlined, ergonomic, fully adjustable (temple tips and nosepads) frames and expansive Rx parameters, and you have the perfect glasses for pickleball and other sports.

Combining protection with visually enhancing lenses will improve visibility by increasing color contrast and reducing discomfort glare, and in a wrap-around style, provide the best eye protection. Rudy Project’s ImpactX Photochromic 2 Laser lenses are made from Trivex, which minimizes the risk of shattering on impact from a pickleball. Recommending protective eyewear is particularly important for those with a higher risk of retinal detachment, based on their family history of retinal detachment, age (between 60 and 70 years), those with high myopia, or who are pseudophakic.

Brad Shapiro, the principal of Rudy Project, states: “We want everyone to know that our lenses are great for any activity. While our roots are in running and cycling, we are much more than that. We believe it is not enough to protect the eyes from hazardous radiation and impact; equally important is enhancing visual acuity and minimizing distortion for high-quality optics needed for sports.”

I firmly believe that companies that practice corporate social responsibility deserve to have their efforts recognized. Rudy Project is pursuing sustainable frame materials with its Ride to ZERO pledge. “In our pursuit of sustainable frame material innovations, we’re expanding the use of Rilsan® Clear, a bio-plastic derived from 45 percent castor oil grown by certified farmers in Gujarat, India, who adopt improved farm waste management practices. This environmentally conscious material enables us to reduce our reliance on fossil-based materials for eyewear frames, aligning with our commitment to sustainable and responsible manufacturing.”

ECPs can learn more about Rudy Project’s Pickleball Kits at