By Victoria Garcia

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In looking back at the past 50 years, eyewear has come a long way, and one category that has witnessed impactful progression is sport eyewear. We’ve curated this special feature via our extensive archives as a reminder of how sport eyewear has advanced not only with technology, but from a fashion standpoint. From brands, celebrities and athlete endorsements to new lens treatments, cutting-edge design details and unique frame materials, sport eyewear is an important category for professional athletes, active wearers and style seekers alike.

Sport eyewear was a category that was traditionally purchased by consumers from sports specialty and big box retailers selling sporting equipment and apparel. In the ’90s, sport frames began to find their way onto optical dispensary frame boards via independent eyewear brands such as Rudy Project, Oakley, Wiley X and Smith Optics, as well as popular sports brands including adidas, Nike and Puma. As the years passed, technology became more advanced and new materials began to emerge that completely changed sport eyewear as we know it. Although safety glasses are still important in regard to specific sports, the options of sport eyewear have expanded far beyond these original specs, incorporating fresh design details such as lightweight frame materials, streamlined temples, adjustable temple tips and grippable and interchangeable nosepads. Let’s not forget about the lens technology packed within these sport frames with advancements including filtering and color-enhancing lenses that adapt to various weather and light conditions, ventilation systems for fog prevention and airflow, and lenses that are created specifically for the field, court or streets.

In today’s sport eyewear, you will find optical frames and sunglasses meant for any type of sport that all feature unique and technologically advanced designs that help athletes perform at their best. In terms of the fashion behind this category, it wasn’t until recent years that the athleisure trend hit its peak, and sport eyewear including sporty shields, aerodynamic designs and colorful lenses made a splash on the runways.

Our coverage of this vast category over the past few decades is a testament to the fantastic evolution of sport eyewear and its cross-over to the fashion realm as a style accessory. The wide world of sports is constantly changing, and so is the eyewear that athletes, active enthusiasts and fashionistas depend on. In honor of our 50th anniversary, we invite you to look back at the astonishing progression of sport eyewear, and keep your eye on 20/20 to see where this category is headed next. ■