Can Basketball Players Wear Glasses?

Basketball is an exciting and fast-paced sport that requires a lot of work and dedication from its players. In a game that relies so much on vision and interpreting small signals from teammates, it can be hard for visually impaired players. For example, can visually impaired basketball players wear glasses on the court?

For lower-level sporting events, glasses are allowed during most basketball games but can lead to unwanted injuries and concerns. Rather, players should consider alternative options that are more convenient and less likely to cause harm while playing, such as sport goggles or contacts.

If you have never tried contacts and have no idea what sports goggles are, you have come to the perfect place. We will break down why glasses are not ideal in most sports settings and then discuss the pros and cons of the other available options for sports players today. If you have poor vision and need help with this while out on the court, keep reading!

Can NBA Players Wear Glasses?

When you think of the first NBA player to pop into your head, chances are they aren’t wearing glasses. In fact, glasses are a rare sight at all in the NBA—can players even wear them?

Many players, both current and past, have worn corrective lenses of one type or another on the court (including legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). However, you aren’t going to just see a pair of cheap everyday glasses on the court.

The actual rules, however, are a bit vaguer. Section II of Rule NO. 2 in the NBA rulebook states that the game officials (referees) will stop any player from wearing anything that they deem is a risk to other players. Theoretically, this can be applied against regular glasses which could break and present sharp edges during play.

The same Rule NO. 2 also states that all eye protection (along with nose masks and face protectors) must be approved by NBA Basketball operations. Whether there is a list of approved eyewear or decisions are made on a case by case basis is unclear.

Most NBA (and college) players who have impaired vision choose to use contact lenses or to get Lasik surgery. Those who choose to wear glasses do so in the form of protective glasses or goggles, which are engineered for durability and safety on the court.

NCAA, and FIBA Rules on Glasses and Eyewear

So, what about the other major leagues? First and foremost, all leagues allow a referee to disqualify any piece of eyewear if they believe it creates an unsafe play environment for other players.

Much like the NBA, the rules for the NCAA (men’s and women’s), and FIBA only briefly mention eyewear:

  • NCAA: Section 26, Art. 6 of the official rulebook states that eye protectors can be worn so long as it is “appropriate for basketball.” There are no rules stating that it must have foam around it to cushion blows.
  • FIBA: FIBA lumps eyewear in with all the other headgear that players are allowed to wear in Art 3, Section 4.4 of their rulebook. So long as it doesn’t cover any part of the face entirely, doesn’t pose a danger to the player wearing them or others, and doesn’t have and sharp extruding parts, then it is allowed.

Essentially, all major basketball leagues allow protective and corrective eyewear so long as it doesn’t pose any danger to anyone on the court.

Should I Wear Glasses While Playing Basketball?

When you have lowered vision, it can be challenging to live your day-to-day life without some form of correction. Unfortunately, the most common form of corrective wear is often the least durable during sporting events. If you wear glasses daily, it can be great for your average day but may not transition well into sporting events. 

While glasses are very effective at improving vision, they can be hard to use during sporting events. If you are interested in playing basketball, it is not a good idea to do so while wearing your glasses. In fact, there are several other options that are much more effective when playing sports. 

If you are interested in wearing corrective wear while playing a sport, luckily there are options for you. Unfortunately, this can take some trial and error to find an option that fits your needs. However, you should not stop being active and enjoying the sports you love because of impaired vision. 

Dangers of Wearing Glasses in Basketball 

The best way to recognize why glasses are not the best choice during basketball is to look into the dangers of doing so. While it may seem silly to think of glasses as dangerous, they can be quite dangerous to you and others when used during sporting events. 

Because basketball is a contact sport as we explained in our blog “Is Basketball a Contact Sport?“, players often make contact which can cause your glasses to break. 

Wearing glasses during basketball games has several dangers that you will want to avoid, such as:

  • You can drop your glasses and break them while playing. When running, it is easy for your glasses to fall off and they can break when hitting the ground. Since this is a close sport, other players can step on your glasses and break them or even hurt themselves. 
  • If you get hit in the face with a ball, elbow, or simply run into another player, you can get injured in your face. Glasses can jab into your face, causing injury to your nose, eyes, ears, and other facial areas. The nose pieces of your glasses can even cause cuts. 
  • If you take a hard enough hit onto your face, you can even have your glasses break while wearing them. This can cause the glass to cut your face or even enter your eyes. This can cause severe injury and damage. 
  • While more annoying than dangerous, glasses often do not stay in place when running or jumping. Basketball is a highly physical sport that requires you to jump and run. Glasses are not going to stay put during this high level of motion. 

While glasses have been worn in basketball in the past, this is not something that you will want to do regularly, and risk of injury is high. You want to ensure that you have an alternative option available before hitting the court. 

What to Use Instead of Glasses When Playing Basketball

There are options for those who are visually impaired or simply cannot see clearly without corrective eyewear. However, these options can require you to take an extra trip to your optician and require a bit more work on your part. 

We will break down the options for those who struggle with their vision and the pros and cons of each alternative. 

Train Your Eyes to Play Without Correction 

One option that is not feasible for everyone but can be possible for those whose vision is not very bad is to train you eyes to play without correction. This is clearly not an option if you rely heavily on your corrective eyewear and your vision is very poor. 

However, those who simply need glasses for reading or other close-up needs can often play without corrective wear. 

Try Contact Lenses While Playing

One of the best ways to see while playing basketball that is relatively easy and works well is using contact lenses. 

Most eye doctors will recommend contact lenses during sporting events because they are much safer. When you opt for contact lenses, you will avoid the risk of breaking your glasses and you can have clear peripheral vision which glasses do not offer. 

Wearing contact lenses is an easy way to avoid all of the negatives that come with glasses. Not to mention, they stay in place much more easily than your glasses will when running and playing. Comparatively, they will offer you as clear of vision or even clearer than glasses will provide. 

Negatives of Contacts When Playing Basketball

There are a couple of negatives that come with wearing contact lenses, which you should always keep in mind. 

Though they are a great option and many love wearing contacts, some issues you may notice are:

  • Some have issues wearing contacts and struggle putting them in. If you have never worn contact lenses, you may have difficulty putting them in correctly and they may feel uncomfortable in your eyes. You will want to try them out off the court before wearing them to your first game. 
  • They can be ripped during play if direct contact is made. While this is not as likely in basketball, if you should get hit in the face, it can cause your contact to rip. This is much less likely than breaking glasses during a game. 
  • You may lose a contact lens during the game, which can usually be dealt with easily. If a contact is lost, ask the referee to halt the game and look for your contact. If you find it, clean it fully with a contact lens solution and never use water or other liquids for this. 

To help avoid any disruptions to your game and make wearing contacts easier while playing, you can always bring extras in your gym bag. You should bring an extra pair of contacts and solution with you while playing. 

Are There Sport Specific Contacts?

A question that many have when it comes to wearing contacts while playing basketball is if there are sport specific contacts that you can purchase. Currently, there are no contacts that are made for wearing during sports, but a large variety of contacts will work for sport use. 

Some things you can keep in mind about purchasing contacts for sport purposes are:

  • Daily disposable contacts are a great option for sports. These can be thrown away at the end of the day and are not worn time and again. 
  • You can choose both soft or hard contacts for sports use. However, most find that soft contacts are easier on the eyes and more comfortable while playing. 
  • Always consult an eye doctor when it comes to choosing contacts. They can help you find the contact lens option that fits your vision needs and works well while playing ball. 

Overall, make sure that you educate yourself on which contacts will work best for your needs and consult an expert for additional support. 

Play Safely in Prescription Sport Glasses

If you prefer glasses over contact lenses, a great option is to wear prescription sport goggles or glasses. These are similar to traditional glasses but made of materials that will hold up well in a sport atmosphere. They can have the same prescription as your traditional glasses but are created in a way that is safer for athletic use. 

Compared to traditional glasses, these sports versions are much safer and less likely to break during a basketball game. They can be securely fastened to your face and are made of much more durable materials than normal glasses. Also, in recent years, these glasses have become more aesthetically pleasing than in the past. 

The Basics on Sports Glasses 

Of course, this is not a cheap option and does require you to visit your local optometrist. If you have an up-to-date prescription you can simply order your sports glasses with your latest prescription lens. However, if you are still on the fences about this option, you will want to learn a bit more about these sports glasses. 

Some things to keep in mind about sports glasses are:

  • These glasses also offer eye protection when playing sports. While basketball is not a contact sport, you could easily take an elbow or hit to the face. This can cause damage to your eyes, but these glasses will add a layer of protection. 
  • These glasses are very athletic looking! They are commonly worn by even professional athletes and are widely accepted in most basketball games. 
  • You can get these glasses in a variety of prescriptions, making them ideal for correcting your vision even while playing. They are made with a strap that keeps the glasses in place, never altering your vision due to slipped glasses. 
  • These glasses are widely available, which means you can probably find them at your local optometrist for sell. 

Overall, sport glasses are a great way to play with clear vision, look sporty, and protect your eyes. 

Where to Buy Sport Glasses Online 

When it comes to sport glasses, there are several options on where you can pick these up. If you have a shop in your area that sells them, you may enjoy trying on various styles to find the perfect pair for your needs. However, if you cannot find them near you, there are several online options that you can choose from. 

If you are interested in finding quality sports glasses online, some great brands that you can choose from are:

  • Nike Performance Glasses – These are a great option and made by one of the largest athletic brands today. They are great for a variety of sports and will work wonderfully in basketball/ This is a top contender for most athletes and has a variety you will love. 
  • Oakley Sports Glasses – Another great choice from a well-known brand, these Oakley glasses are a bit more customizable but also a bit pricey. They have an added padded area that many basketball players love and enhances comfortability. Many players love that they also come with an added carrying case for ease and convenience. 
  • Amazon Sport Glasses – If you have an Amazon account, you know that you can find almost anything through this amazing website and sports glasses are no exception. You will find a huge range of basketball glasses on Amazon, but it is important to always look over reviews and find quality options. This is great for those who want something quick and convenient. 

This is clearly not all of the options that you will find online today for your sports glasses. However, this is three easy ways to find sports glasses online that can be delivered straight to your door. You should always do your own research and read reviews on any glasses you are considering purchasing.

Consider LASIK or Corrective Surgery for Basketball

While this seems like a jump from the previous options, and it is, having corrective surgery is always an option for those with highly impaired vision. Clearly this is not an option for an elementary student who is playing basketball with their local team, but many college level or adult players choose this route. 

There are several benefits to corrective eye surgery for sports players, including:

  • It is a relatively painless and extremely quick surgery – The total time that it takes to complete the surgery is only a matter of minutes and most report little recovery pains. 
  • Vision is completely corrected – Unlike contacts or sports glasses, once you do this surgery you will never need corrective wear. The surgery completely restores your vision and there will be no need for additional correction. 
  • It offers a quick recovery – While it can be easy to imagine that eye surgery needs a long recovery, it is actually a very speedy recovery time. In fact, most who receive the surgery can see well the very next day and will be back on the court within a month. 
  • It can improve performance – Many athletes who opt for LASIK or other surgical options have an improved performance during sporting events. You will be able to see very clearly and have no distractions like contacts or glasses offer. This surgery truly gives you perfect vision. 

It is obvious that LASIK is not an option for everyone and even requires medical approval, but it is something that many consider. You do not want to look into LASIK simply for athletic purposes but rather as an entire life change. If you have very poor vision and would like to enhance it dramatically, LASIK Is a great choice. 

If you do consider LASIK or other corrective surgery, make sure to do deep research into the location you plan to go to for the surgery. You will also want to keep in mind that this can get expensive and paying more for quality care is ideal! 

See Clearly While Playing Sports

Having poor vision while doing daily tasks is difficult, these difficulties only double when it comes to playing sports with added vision concerns. While wearing your glasses is not always against the rules of the game, it can be dangerous and lead to unwanted harm to you or others playing. 

The best choice when it comes to playing basketball with poor vision is to opt for one of the following:

  • Train Your Eyes 
  • Wear Contacts
  • Try Sports Glasses or Goggles 
  • Look Into Corrective Surgery

By now you should know the pros and cons of these options and try finding the best choice for your vision needs!

If you liked this post, be sure to check “Can Basketball Players Wear Gloves?” & “Can Basketball Shoes Be Used for Running?“.


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