Squash goggles: The how of racquetball safety

The American Optometric Association says that "the game of squash can be hazardous to the eyes"; and if you're watching beginners play, you'll know that it's true off-court as well. But jokes apart, a high speed game of squash can send the ball flying in your face at literally the speed of a squash ball – and anyone who's played or watched the sport knows how dangerous this can be. So it's a given that squash goggles should be worn at all times on a squash court. But how do you find the right pair if you're just Squash Gogglesstarting out learning the ropes of the game? How do you choose one that allows you visual freedom while protecting your eyes and face from impact? How do you zero in on the right pair that has absolutely everything but your name is written on it? Unless your name is Dunlop or Oakley, you might want to know how to go about these things.

Step inside, walk this way

Getting the right pair of squash goggles isn't something that you can easily do online – at least not for the first few times when you're experimenting with different types. It's advisable to go to an actual store where you can try on several pairs before you settle on your first purchase. There are several things you'll need to check before you put your money where your eyes are so don't rush these next few steps; you'll be thankful that you didn't once you've played your first few games.

I can see clearly now

The first thing is to check visibility when you put on the squash goggles. It should give you a field of view that will cover the entire front wall and a fair part of the sidewalls, at least the area near the front wall. If you can't see at least this much that might mean the pair is too small for you – move on to a slightly bigger pair and keep doing this until you find the right size.

I feel good…so good, I got you

Next, see how comfortable the fit is. There should be soft foam padding that doesn't cut into the skin (you might want to opt for straps rather than regular arms), but at the same time the squash goggles shouldn't be so loose that they'll shift with vigorous movement. Jump on the spot a couple of times to check this; if you feel it might look awkward doing this in public, close your eyes and make like an ostrich (not the burying your head part) – technically, if you can't see them, they're not there!

Don't want a whole lotta shakin' goin' on

Once you're comfortable with the visibility and the fit, you can also check to see if the lenses 'sit' in the frame firmly without any jiggle room. There's always the danger of a loose lens popping out of the frame inwards (towards the eye) – that's a situation you want to avoid at all cost. High quality squash goggles won't have this problem because the grooves will be deep enough to hold the lenses solidly in place. Make sure that the frames are of the high-impact variety – you can ask if the pair meets regulatory guidelines such as those of the World Squash Federation.

The price you gotta pay

The lenses themselves are a crucial part of safety and comfort. You'll do well to opt for scratch-resistant lenses that are also anti-fogging and shatterproof; high-density polycarbonate lenses usually come with these features. A good pair of squash goggles should cost you somewhere in the neighborhood of $30, although they're available in a wide range on either side of this tag. Go with your instinct more than anything else, because unless you're comfortable with all the features as well as the price, you may not be happy with your purchase in the long run – in the end that's the important thing.