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Anna Leigh Waters wearing blue eye protection.
Anna Leigh Waters competing at the 2024 Mesa Arizona Cup. PPA Tour

The importance of protective eyewear in pickleball

DALLAS, TX – It’s time to take the leap and invest in eyewear to protect yourself while playing pickleball.

The sport is only getting faster, and some of the top pros are leading by example in this department, so quality eye protection is a must-have accessory right now.

But where to start?

I called Florida-based opthamology specialist, Dr. Keith Charles, MD, who has over 35 years of experience in the medical field, to learn more about how pickleball players can best guard their sight while playing the game they love. 

“Pickleball used to be this pretty mellow sport, but now there are these young, physically fit people that are hitting the ball hard. I think we’re going to see an uptrend in eye injuries, and because of that, I recommend protective eyewear,” said Dr. Charles.

Dr. Charles proceeded to compare the pickleball to a racquetball from a potential injury standpoint.

Fortunately, our eyes are better off with pickleballs.

“The good thing is that the diameter of the pickleball is big enough that it’s difficult for it to have much contact with the eye. It can push tissue into the eye and get abrasions, whereas with racquetballs, the diameter is much smaller and it can fit right into the socket and hit directly on the eye and cause the eye to rupture,” explained Dr. Charles. “The other advantage of pickleball is that the ball is plastic and rigid, compared to a tennis ball or a racquetball that’s compressed and has more of the ability to get into the orbit and have direct contact with the eye. Pickleball is definitely safer, but it's still not impossible to get a bad injury.”

Mary Brascia wearing black eyewear at Desert Ridge Open
Mary Brascia at the Desert Ridge Open last month. PPA Tour

With that in mind, what kind of eyewear should players seek out and purchase?

“For protection, wear polycarbonate glasses. They’re basically safety glasses, but you can get really nice sunglasses with polycarbonate lenses,” confirmed Dr. Charles.

He also shared some additional insight on a specific eyewear material that could do more harm than good on the pickleball court.

“What can be counterproductive is if you have glass lenses, which is almost hard to find because most lenses are at least plastic. But, if you get hit with a regular pair of glasses and then that lens breaks, now you have a sharp object that can hit the eye. If you’re going to wear them, wear the right ones, and those would be polycarbonate lenses,” concluded Dr. Charles.

Pickleball Central is a great place to begin your search for protective eyewear. There are several excellent options for polycarbonate lenses that will keep you safe during all your future practice sessions and matches alike.

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