Survey Shows Only 58 percent of Americans Are Protecting Their Eyes During Outdoor Sports and Activities, Although Most are Concerned About Eye Health

Share Article

According to a national survey just completed by N3L Optics, the nation’s only sports performance sunglass retailer, less than two thirds of American adults are wearing eye protection consistently while outdoors, and only a third of those age 18-24 do so. N3L Optics surveyed 1,080 people from across the country between the ages of 18-54 years old, and results are available by market, gender, age and outdoor sport.

"Most people would never go out in the sun without sunscreen, and your eyes also need the UV protection sunglasses can provide," said Bobby Dean, N3L Optics.

Spring is here and more Americans are taking part in their favorite outdoor sports and activities, but many are not taking easy steps to protect their eyes. In fact, almost half are not wearing sunglasses, according to a national survey just completed by N3L Optics. This can lead to serious eye problems, including macular degeneration, sports injuries and even some cancers.

According to the survey by N3L Optics--the nation’s only sports performance sunglass retailer--while 85 percent of Americans feel eye protection is a major component of their overall good health, less than two thirds are wearing eye protection consistently while outdoors, and only about a third of those age 18-24 do so.

The survey also found that one in 10 American adults has experienced an eye injury while participating in outdoor sports and activities. Men are twice as likely to have an eye injury than women. April is “Sports Eye Safety Month” and, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), nearly 90 percent of sports eye injuries can be prevented.

“Most people would never go out in the sun for an extended period of time without sunscreen,” said Bobby Dean, Education Director at N3L Optics. “Your eyes need that same kind of UV protection to prevent serious damage, and sunglasses are the best way to get that protection.”

The majority of those surveyed report worrying about their eye health, but nearly one in four do not know that sun exposure can cause eye cancer or cataracts. “N3L Optics was created to be a leader in educating Americans about proper eye protection,” Dean said. “Our Gearus are trained to listen to your needs and use our cutting-edge technology to make sure customers have the right performance sunglass or goggle for their sport or outdoor activity.”

Outdoor Activities and Use of Sunglasses
Survey respondents considered themselves to be active, with 76 percent walking for fitness, followed by participation in water sports (37%), hiking (35%), camping (33%), outdoor team sports (27%), and cycling (26%). Participation in outdoor activities was similar to a year ago, showing little impact due to the economy.

Of concern in some key sports categories, the survey found that more than 40 percent of runners and 35 percent of water sports participants do not consistently wear sunglasses during these activities, exposing their eyes to potential damage. Only 50 percent of men make it a priority to have the right sunglasses for their sport and for women, it’s even less (33%).

Why don’t more Americans Wear Sunglasses During Sports?
“Many people don’t wear sunglasses during their sport because they’ve had trouble in the past with clarity and fit,” said Dean. “Advancements in sunglass technology have corrected these concerns, and there are now many sunglasses to choose from that don’t slip, fog or impair your vision when you perform.”

“Many people also have no idea there are frames and lenses out there that will enhance their outdoor experience while protecting their eyes,” Dean said. Athletes and outdoor enthusiasts can choose from a wide variety of lenses and frames that are both effective and fashionable.

Americans Feel Good in Sunglasses
Though safety and outdoor conditions are factors in choosing the right sunglasses, Americans definitely like to look and feel good as well. The survey found that 45 percent feel “confident” with their sunglasses on, and 42 percent feel “cool.” More than a third feel “sporty” or “safe,” and nearly that many feel “healthy.”

Confidence peaked in New York, where more than half feel “confident” in their sunglasses. Coolness peaked in the southwest, where 57 percent feel “cool” in their sunglasses. “Sporty” was one of the top three feelings while wearing sunglasses in the northeast, southeast, and west.

Almost a third of women feel “glamorous” in sunglasses compared to only 10 percent of men, and more women feel “classic.” Men feel more “masculine,” “serious” and “rugged.”

Many associate sunglasses with iconic sports moments, and nearly 30 percent recalled Lance Armstrong winning the Tour de France as the most notable sunglass moment in sports.

Tips for Choosing the Right Pair of Sunglasses

  •     Polarized lenses are helpful for activities that require glare reduction. These activities include outdoor pursuits such as fishing, boating, kayaking and sand volleyball.
  •     Select glasses or goggles with polycarbonate lenses. These lenses are impact and shatter resistant and filter out 100 percent of UV light.
  •     Different colors work best for different sports. For example, golfers can benefit from lenses with amber, brown or rose tint. These tints enhance depth perception and help with following the ball in low or medium light conditions.
  •     Consider the safety features you need for your activity. Many performance sunglasses are designed to address specific safety concerns such as protecting from sudden impact, shielding from flying debris and improving visibility in challenging terrain.
  •     A good fit is critical. If sunglasses do not fit properly, they can’t protect properly. Many performance sunglasses have special features that allow them to stay in place during activities such as running, cycling and climbing. In addition, value added features have begun to find their place on active lifestyle or sport inspired sunglasses, allowing the wearer to look and feel great.
  •     Bigger is better. Wrap around lenses sometimes work best because they block light and wind coming in from the sides and allow peripheral vision, a must for cyclists. In addition, larger lenses may be more effective because they cover more of the eye.

Related information
Video showing in-store technology:
Photos showing in-store technology:
Facebook page:

About the Survey
In 2012, N3L Optics conducted a nationwide survey of adults to better understand behaviors and beliefs relating to sunglasses. The survey examined areas such as participation in outdoor sports and activities, use of sunglasses, health knowledge, and injury rates. The subject group was made up of 1,080 respondents from across the country between the ages of 18-54 years old. All respondents had purchased at least one pair of sunglasses during the last 24 months, and had participated in an outdoor activity within the past year. Additional data is available by gender, age group and sport.

About N3L Optics
N3L Optics (Newton’s 3 Laws of Motion) is a new and revolutionary sunglass store committed to carrying the world’s best assortment of sport performance optics. Designed specifically for the athlete and outdoor enthusiast, N3L Optics’ innovative retail technology and highly trained associates will forever change the way performance eyewear is discovered, ensuring that you will always find the right frame and lens to enhance your active lifestyle. N3L Optics stores are located in Phoenix and Tucson Ariz.; Mission Viejo and San Mateo, Calif.; Broomfield and Denver, Colo.; Orlando, Fla.; Dallas and El Paso, Texas, and Salt Lake City, Utah, with a new store slated to open in Boulder, Colo., in summer 2012.

For more information, visit N3L Optics is an Oakley company. Oakley is a subsidiary of Luxottica Group (NYSE: LUX; MTA: LUX), a Milan, Italy-based global leader in premium fashion, luxury and sports eyewear. Additional information is available at and

Kirk Thompson, , (210) 912-9696
Martin Higgins,, (917) 715-2277
Carolyn Covey Morris, , (972) 625-3160

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Carolyn Morris
Email >
Visit website