I'll wager that if you are an adult squash player at any standard you don't wear squash glasses or goggles. You have probably never considered the need to wear protective eyewear on court. The question is... Should you be wearing squash glasses to look after your valuable eyesight or is protective eyewear simply a product of the paranoid and mollycoddled society we now live in?

I've been playing squash for nearly 20 years and until recently I never wore eye protection. I then started coaching junior squash and I quickly made the rule of "no glasses, no squash". In my opinion it was too much to risk the eyesight of these guys. I also started wearing glasses on court when coaching the juniors as it felt hypocritical to insist they wore glasses when I wasn't... further more a few enthusiatic but wild shots from the little critters steeled my resolve to look after myself as well as them.

I have since tried to wear squash glasses during friendly squash matches (a true oxymoron) but I must confess that being an ultra competitive squash nut means the glasses have lasted as long as I'm winning. To my surprise the proper squash glasses (just like those that I insisted my juniors wear) dont actually steam up, are reasonably comfortable and vision quickly adapts. Whilst the view out of glasses isn't as good as without them the only real problem I had was an issue of sweat running down the inside of the lens. I probably could have got over the sweat problem (on the lenses that is) with the use of a headband but then no redblooded male wears a headband... do they?! So there we have it I'm now risking my eyesight every time I play my favourite sport because I wont wear a headband. It sounds bonkers when the pros and cons are considered but I am currently in the same boat as ~99% of all adult squash players out there.

At my squash club we have well over 100 playing members, of these members three wear eye protection:

  • Player 1 always plays in protective guard type glasses when on court. Ever since he was hit in the eye with a squash ball about 20 years ago he has worn some form of squash goggles. (For ref it is my understanding that the lensless guard type eye protectors are not BSI approved for squash.)
  • Player 2 is a doctor. I have never seen her on court without approved squash glasses. When I asked her about why she always wears glasses her reason was that she had seen too many damaged eyes in A&E to not look after her own eyes.
  • Player 3 is an optician who wears standard safety specs. Interestingly he said he is content to take the risk in wearing "normal safety specs" but he makes sure his kids play in BSI approved squash glasses.

To the best of my knowledge none of the above players have ever enforced or preached the need to wear eye protection, it just appears they do it to look after themselves in light of what they've seen in their jobs or experienced on court.

To my shame I still play squash without eye glasses... but I'm trying - just another aspect of my game to work on!

Points of reference:

  • A wide range of eyewear approved for racket sports is available from www.TitanSport.co.uk.
  • BS 7930-1 is the British standard for eyewear approved and tested for racket sports. ASTM F803 is the American standard. CSA P400 is the Canadian standard. A/NZS 4066 is the Australian standard.
  • This purpose of this article is food for thought and ScottishSport.co.uk can in no way endorse the use eyewear that has not been approved for racket sports.
  • Squash glasses are mandatory for doubles squash and for junior competitions.

 

Comment from a reader:

From: Peter B
To: Scottishsport.co.uk
Subject: Squash goggles


I have just come across the article - no author name- concerning his experiences with this form of protection. If possible I would like to endorse all the comments about the need to wear goggles. In fact the less experienced need protection so that they may continue before they get injured. Very few players avoid any sort of injury and quite a lot get bad injuries. Many of the latter arise simply because of reckless play and/or carelessness.

Now 73 and still attempting to play good squash - a problem for anyone who has played tennis, badminton and table tennis for many years before coming to squash - I thought I could handle all the really aggressive players that I came across until I made a classic error: turning to see where was the best place to run to. The ball entered my left eye socket, fortunately not straight on or I would have lost my eye, and I had to endure the most searing pain I can ever remember. But I was lucky, so lucky. Examination of my eye revealed that whilst there was considerable scarring in evidence as I could then still see I might not have any long term problem. However, if I intended to go on playing ANY sport I must consider using whatever protection was available. Consequently I have ever since then worn goggles.

Other players acknowledge the sense of using goggles but, just like me, never consider that they may get injured. Of all the players in my club only two women players use protective eyewear, although all the juniors must do so.

My eyesight is much more important than any game, any sport or any other activity.

Peter B


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