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Players wear sunglasses in the field all the time, but it is less common to see batters wearing sunglasses at the plate. Hitters don’t often wear them at the plate because they aren’t used to them or aren’t confident they can see the ball well enough. Should this mean they aren’t worth a try?
Wearing sunglasses while hitting can provide a lot of benefits, especially in bright conditions. The technology in sports sunglasses is so advanced now that players can significantly enhance their ability to see the baseball. Sunglasses are a great way to combat glare from the sun, or increase contrast during cloudy days.
While sunglasses can provide a great advantage to a hitter, choosing the right pair is key. Without the proper frames, lens, and fit, it can have a negative impact on a hitter’s vision.
What to Consider When Buying Sunglasses for Baseball
Many of the top sport sunglass brands have patented lens technology. For example, Oakley has Prizm technology and Nike has MAX Optics. These are specific lenses optimized for sport performance. They help with contrast, depth perception, and seeing the detail of sport-specific activities such as picking up the seams on a baseball. While generic sunglasses can provide relief from brightness, they serve a different purpose, so it’s important to research specific sunglasses when looking to increase sport performance.
When considering lens shape, it is important to have full vision coverage. Hitters especially use their peripheral vision, so a lens that wraps around the field of vision is ideal. Sport-specific sunglasses are usually designed with this in mind. A more prevalent wrap prevents unwanted glare, provides increased protection in the event of an impact, and keeps dust and dirt away from the eyes.
Rose and brown bases are two great options when it comes to lens color for baseball. These lens colors provide a sharp contrast between the ball and the grass, dirt, and sky. Gray or more neutral lens colors can oftentimes give a more muted visual to the wearer. The base color of the lens is the view from the wearer, or in other words, the inside of the lens. This can be the same or different from how the lenses look from the outside. An example of this is mirrored lenses. So when purchasing sunglasses, take note of the base color of the lens when considering sport lenses. Higher-end sport sunglass brands, such as Oakley, have developed specific lens colors that are optimized for specific sports. Oakley, for example, has Prizm Field which can be seen in this example:
Sport-specific sunglasses are almost always going to be made with the appropriate material. A material that is lightweight and shatter-proof is ideal. Additionally, it is important for the frames to stay in place while moving and are resistant to sweat. The nose piece and temple tips should have some type of rubber-like material that holds the sunglasses in place even when wet. This prevents the sunglasses from sliding down or bouncing while doing any sport-specific movement, such as running.
Equally important to frame material is how the frame fits. It should be snug, but not too tight. They should not bounce around when swinging or running. The way sunglasses fit can be unique to the individual, so it is always important to try them on first. Comfort is extremely important in order to avoid distraction. If sunglasses aren’t creating an increase in confidence, then they aren’t worth wearing.
Polarized vs. Non-Polarized
Polarized lenses are an amazing technology and great for certain environments… but not for sports. Polarized lenses are popular for their ability to cut through glare caused by the sun, reflections, and even water. However, polarization can distort a wearer’s depth perception, and while it is usually unnoticeable in most everyday activities, it can be detrimental in sports like baseball. Luckily, most sunglass brands do a great job of developing sport-specific lenses that are not polarized, but still combat glare and increase contrast.
Confidence is Key
The last thing any hitter should be thinking about in the box is their sunglasses. Baseball is such a mentally challenging sport, that the slightest thought of doubt can crush the chance of success. Finding the right fitting pair of sunglasses that enhance visuals and increase confidence in one’s ability to see the ball is a must- otherwise, it is just not worth it. Try out different pairs of sunglasses and wear them in practice. In the game is not the time to test them out to see if they are comfortable.
When it comes to sunglasses, especially sport-specific sunglasses, the expression “you get what you pay for” generally applies. However, that’s not to say there are some great options that won’t totally break the bank. For high-quality sunglasses, expect to pay between $65-$250 on average. Here are some of our favorites:
It is worth mentioning that with many of these higher-quality brands, they offer some added flexibility and options. Most of the sunglasses listed above have frames that make it easy to swap out lenses quickly. This makes it easier to replace lenses if damaged, or even have multiple lenses for different lighting. All without needing to buy multiple frames.
Once again, it is encouraged, if possible, to try on different pairs of sunglasses to find ones that are comfortable and fit correctly. Everyone is different and has different preferences, so the more options available to test out, the better.