With the Winter Olympics just around the corner world class athletes are preparing to compete in one of the greatest athletic events dating back thousand of years to Ancient Olympic times.
Sports eye trauma is a real issue. While the Winter Olympians may need face protection (hockey, speed skating)
or outdoor ski glasses to protect against UV light and wind, the concept of sports eye safety goes back to ancient times as demonstrated by this timeline:
Fencing Mask (1200 B.C.)
Ancient Egyptians had a type of fencing competition with masks and protective weapon tips dating back to 1200 B.C.
Baseball — Catcher’s Mask (1877)
On April 12, 1877, James Tyng of Harvard College became the first baseball player to use a catcher’s mask.
Skiing/Snowboarding — Goggles (1965)
Robert Earl Smith invented the double-lens, anti-fog ski goggle to replace single-pane goggles that would fog up from moisture and humidity.
Basketball — Goggles (1968)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar began wearing basketball goggles in January 1968 after having a corneal abrasion. Many prominent NBA players have worn protective eyewear during play, including James Worthy, Horace Grant, Kurt Rambis, and Amar’e Stoudemire.
Hockey — Protective Visor (1973)
Full facemasks are not required for NHL players, though are commonly mandated in amateur leagues. After NHL player Greg Neeld lost his left eye due to an opponent’s high stick he became was the first professional hockey player to wear a helmet visor in 1973, For the Olympics, male hockey players born in 1975 or later must wear a visor that meets certain international standards. For Olympic women, all players must wear full facemasks. In 2013, the National Hockey League (NHL) mandated that any player with fewer than 25 professional games under his belt that season must wear a protective visor.
Lacrosse — Goggles (2005)
Based on recommendations by the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Academy of Pediatrics, US Lacrosse (the national governing body of the sport) began recommending the use of protective eyewear in 2004. In 2005, the organization mandated the use of eyewear (but not helmets or facemasks) at all levels of women’s Lacrosse. For men’s Lacrosse helmets and facemasks (but not eyewear) became mandatory.
Field Hockey — Goggles (2011)
In April 2011, the National Federation of State High School Associations began requiring polycarbonate lens or wire frame style protective eyewear for all field hockey players. The International Hockey Federation and USA Field Hockey do not have such a mandate and strictly prohibit the use of wire or cage type goggles.