Can You Play Basketball With Glasses? [An Expert Answer]

“WATCH OUT!!” Is something you don’t want to hear on the basketball court. To avoid being another youtube viral blooper, you need good eyesight. Unfortunately, we are not all blessed with this sense and may need some help. 

Quick answer: Yes, you can play basketball with glasses but it is not recommended because you can hurt yourself. It's better to wear contact lenses.

Thanks to technology, this is possible and has been for years. Many of us, when we were younger, avoided getting help for fear of being made fun of. For a long time, it wasn’t cool to wear any kind of glasses at all, let alone on the hardwood. But that has all changed. 

Many people are asking, ‘Can you play basketball with glasses?’ because they want to play better and help their team. The best way to do so would be to improve your vision and thus your response time, pass accuracy, and on-court awareness.   

Can You Play Basketball With Glasses?

Yes, you can play basketball with glasses, but it’s highly ill-advised. Being able to see is very important in this game, as things can change in the blink of an eye.

Can You Play Basketball With Glasses

If you need corrective assistance, then try one of the alternatives below. Wearing glasses is simply too dangerous to play basketball with. 

Official Rules On Glasses In The NBA And Other Leagues

Seeing a professional player wear basketball glasses is rare. This doesn’t mean they all have 20/20 vision. It just means they have all figured out a way to solve their vision problem without the use of glasses. But were they made to do so? 

NBA

As the most popular basketball league in the world, the NBA has rules about what you can and can’t wear on their courts. Although there is nothing that specifically references eyeglasses, this rule covers it

Rule #1 Section II – Duties of the officials:

C: The officials shall not permit any player to wear equipment which, in their judgment, is dangerous to other players. Any equipment which is of hard substance (casts, splints, guards, and braces) must be padded, or foam covered and have no exposed sharp or cutting edge. All the face masks and eye or nose protectors must be approved by NBA Basketball Operations and conform to the contour of the face, and have no sharp or protruding edges.

Based on that, it’s understandable that players couldn’t show up in their prescription readers. The probability of causing injury to other players is too high.

Watch the cool video below for more useful details.

NCAA

The NCAA for the men’s and women’s leagues all share a similar rule which allows for the officials to make the final call. This makes sense since players can get creative as everyone is looking for that edge. 

NCAA rules provide a little more insight than the NBA. They allow for the use of “eye protection” so long as it’s “appropriate for basketball.” They make no mention of being a certain shape, size, or regulations regarding padding. 

FIBA

Originally known as Fédération Internationale de Basketball Amateur but known in the English world as International Basketball Federation, it provides a few more specifics

Eyewear is included as other headgear such as headbands as being admissible, but it also says it must not cover the face entirely or pose any risk to other players. The rules also state that there must not be any sharp edges or extruding parts. 

Should You Wear Your Glasses When Playing Basketball?

This depends on how severe your eyesight may be and also what kind of glasses you have. I can understand that someone’s eyesight might be at a level where they absolutely need glasses to see in everyday life.

basketball player with glasses

If that’s the case, then they definitely need some form of corrective eyewear while playing a game of basketball. 

If you just play pick-up with your buddies in the driveway, then you can probably get away with your weekday work glasses. But if you play in a league, at a gym, then I recommend you not wear glasses. 

There are alternatives that I will discuss below, but wearing your glasses while in the heat of battle could injure a teammate or competitor. You could also hurt yourself easier than you think because your glasses aren’t made for that kind of activity. 

Dangers Of Wearing Glasses In Basketball

Before we discuss which type of eyewear will suit you best during basketball games, It’s important that everyone understand the risks being taken when anyone wears glasses to play basketball. 

  • The most obvious is that you get hit in the face, and they break, which could cause bruising, lacerations, or even blindness. 
  • Hurting someone else may happen, and your glasses will not get damaged at all. 
  • Dropping them during a game will rob you of your sight and make it very easy for you to run into someone or trip and twist an ankle. Someone stepping on your glasses could hurt them if they slip. 
  • Having to adjust them if they slip down your nose is not only annoying, but could take your attention away from the game. Even one second of not paying attention can put you in a precarious position. 

Alternatives To Wearing Glasses While Playing Basketball

Thankfully, there are a few ways you can enjoy and excel at basketball. If you’ve been risking it all by playing with glasses, I’m sure once you switch to one of these, you’ll start to play better as the burden of wearing regular glasses will be lifted. 

player with glasses

Train Your Eyes

This may not be feasible for those with severe loss of eyesight, but for some, it may just take some practice. As humans, we can develop habits, and if your eyesight can support it, your habit can be playing basketball. 

This could be a huge advantage since training your eyes doesn’t require any new equipment. You can jump right into warm-ups and know that you are safe, and so is everyone else.  

This option will be most available to those who have trouble reading or anything up close. You can cater to your “strength” of being able to see far just by playing more and more without any corrective assistance. 

Pros

  • No new equipment to purchase
  • Easier to get ready before a game
  • Nothing to fall off or bother you during the game

Cons

  • Takes time to learn
  • Might be different from one court to the next

Use Prescription Contact Lenses

This is the most common solution to eyeglasses, both in basketball and in everyday life. It’s also the preferred method in the NBA. This allows for the best improvement in vision without having to wear anything extra on your face. 

Whether you choose soft contacts or hard will depend on your eyesight in most cases. If you have a choice, I would recommend soft contacts.

Young man putting contact lenses at home.

They are cheaper and disposable, so if something happens to them during a game, you can just pop in another. No one wants to stop the game and start looking for a contact. 

Many people prefer the feel of the hard contacts, so if that’s the case, then you have to go for it. No sense in trying to solve the problem of wearing glasses only to create a new, more uncomfortable problem with contact you don’t love. 

Always have a safe place to put them on the bench and in your gym bag. These are just as important as any other piece of equipment, like your shoes. Take care of them, so you can play your best. 

Pros

  • Corrects vision without the use of traditional glasses
  • Hard to knock out during play
  • Disposable contacts are available 

Cons

  • Must get the right prescription
  • Could be a recurring cost

Sports Glasses/Goggles

You may have seen professionals in the NBA wear something like this before. They satisfy the rules of basketball in that the officials don’t see how they could harm any other players; therefore, they are legal and admissible in games. 

horace grant with glasses
Horace Grant playing with glasses.

To some, these goggles may seem cumbersome and excessive, but to those struggling with eyesight, they are a blessing and allow them to play the game they love at a high level.

Horace Grant might be the most famous player to wear corrective eye goggles. He was the enforcer on Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls team in the ‘90s.

His goggles served a dual purpose for him as they were fit with corrective lenses but also provided protection against fingers that might poke him while fighting for rebounds. 

The only other player most people know for goggles is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. His goggles were a necessity for him after incurring so many eye injuries in basketball that it started to impair his vision.

His goggles were also used for improved eyesight and protection against any rough play that may happen. 

Both these players helped to eliminate the stigma of wearing goggles while you play. Many kids who wear glasses might have been hesitant to play sports for fear of being made fun of. No one is making fun of Kareem or Horace, that’s for sure. 

Pros

  • Prescribed to improve your specific vision issues
  • Legal by league standards all over the world
  • Provides protection against eye pokes

Cons

  • Might be uncomfortable at first
  • Must visit an optometrist to get fit correctly   

LASIK Surgery

Horace Grant was one of the early recipients of LASIK surgery, and it was a smashing success. He continued to wear the goggles because he was used to them, and he wanted to continue to inspire kids with glasses to get out and play sports. 

LASIK is a modern marvel and proof that we are living in the future. This procedure helps people restore their eyesight and eliminate the need for eyeglasses.

I’ve heard nothing but good things about this procedure, and if you can afford it, this is the best way to go. 

Not only will your basketball game improve, but every other aspect of your life as well. It’s the only suggestion on this list that will stay with you off the court.

No need to remember any equipment or keep anything clean; your sight will be as good as new. 

Pros

  • No need for any more eyewear of any kind
  • Helps in everyday life as well
  • May even improve your vision when compared to glasses

Cons

  • Very costly
  • Might wear off over the course of your life  

Sports Glasses/Goggles In-Depth Analysis

Since this is a cost-effective and non-invasive solution to poor eyesight, and it provides protection, I recommend this to all young players who want to play but need some assistance. 

There are sport-specific goggles that you can order with mild prescriptions, but for severe loss of eyesight, it’s best to visit an optometrist and get them custom-made as you would a nice pair of glasses. 

Many sports glasses on a shop window.

How Do They Feel?

Sport glasses or goggles have come a long way since the days of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. They are designed with comfort in mind and are much more ergonomically correct. The curve to the contours of your face provides padding in all the right places. 

They are also made to stay in place a lot better. Having them fall off easily or even slide down your nose will defeat the purpose of wearing them. Ensure that any goggles you get have a comfortable nose piece that suits your nose to hold them in place. 

You’re going to be doing a lot of running around and jumping, so they should be securely attached to your face but in a comfortable way.

How Much Do Sport Glasses Cost?

There are plenty of deals to be had, but you should expect to pay $80+ for a decent pair. The cost goes up if you want your prescription in there. Other features such as anti-fog, added padding, and backup lenses will all add to the price.

The good news is that most of them come with a protective case so you can keep them safe and looking good for a long time. 

What Are The Best Sports Glasses And Goggles?

Brand & ModelIncludes Head StrapPadding Price

Hudson H7 ANSI Rated Eyeglasses
YesMinimal$49.99

Bolle Home Run Kids Prescription ASTM Rated Eyeglasses
NoNo$119.00

Bolle ULTIM8 Prescription ANSI Rated Glasses
YesYes$40.00

WileyX Crush Kids Prescription ASTM Rated Eyeglasses
Yes (removable)No$162.50

Liberty Sport Helmet Spex ASTM Rated Goggles
YesYes$174.95

FAQ

Can You Play Sports With Glasses?

Yes, you can play sports with glasses however it’s not advisable. By wearing glasses, you put yourself and everyone else on the court at risk of injury. Glasses are not made to be worn in high-contact situations like basketball. If your vision is impaired, there are alternatives to glasses that are safer and more comfortable. 

Why Do NBA Players Wear Glasses?

NBA players wear glasses for two reasons; one is to improve their eyesight. For players who do not want to wear contacts, glasses are a great alternative. NBA players also wear glasses to protect their eyes. Play can get rough in the paint and while it may not happen on purpose, getting poked in the eye is very common.  

Do You Need Glasses For Basketball?

No, you do not need glasses for basketball. If your vision is not strong, you can train your eyes to see the court and the ball. This doesn’t come easy and requires a lot of practice, but if you want to avoid wearing basketball glasses, it’s a great way to do so. 

Does Eyesight Affect Basketball?

Yes, eyesight affects basketball in many different ways. The game moves very fast, and as such, players should strive to have the best eyesight possible. Whether that’s through the use of contacts, goggles, or LASIK, having responsive eyesight will help you to be a better player and prevent injury. 

Which Basketball Players Wear Glasses?

The basketball players that wear glasses are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Horace Grant. These are the most notable, but many others have donned spectacles while playing. These two wore them to improve their vision just as much as for protection. Other players, such as Hakeem Olajuwon, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Bo Outlaw, wore them for protective purposes only.   

   

 

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