Why Do Basketball Players Wear Goggles? (& Famous NBA Players Who Do)

Basketball produces more eye injuries than football, hockey, or other similar contact sports. For this reason, basketball players sometimes wear goggles to protect their eyes while playing.

However, this is not the only reason basketball players wear goggles. Googles enable them to see better on the court and keep sweat out of their eyes as they play.

Here, we delve deeper into basketball players' reasons for wearing goggles and look at famous examples of pro basketball players who've worn goggles while playing.

Why do NBA Players Wear Goggles While Playing?

Goggles Help Prevent Eye Injuries

While playing basketball, many professional players are susceptible to eye injuries. A 2018 study published in the journal Pediatrics found that basketball caused approximately 16% of eye injuries in children between 1990 and 2012.

And the trend goes on. In the NBA, plenty of examples abound on why players wear goggles while playing.


During the 2018 NBA Finals, LeBron James was poked in the eye and suffered a subconjunctival hemorrhage.

Earlier in January 2017, former Virginia basketball player Akil Mitchell got poked in the eye when he went up for a rebound, and Allen Ray’s eye popped out of his socket while playing a Villanova college basketball game.

Fortunately, ophthalmologists managed to restore both players’ eyesight.

The evidence is clear: The right protective eye gear is the best defense against eye injuries, regardless of whether you’re a high school basketball player or NBA star.

Goggles Improve Player Eyesight

Basketball players need impeccable eyesight to play well. They need to see where the ball is going and the position of their teammates and opponents.

Some goggles are prescription goggles, which can help improve a player’s eyesight.

While not everyone chooses to use goggles to enhance their vision (Steph Curry is an example as he prefers to use contact lenses), they still are an excellent piece of added equipment to ensure that the player can see everything going on.

For players who may find contact lenses uncomfortable, prescription goggles or glasses are a viable alternative.


Unlike Glasses, Goggles Stay in Place During the Game

Basketball goggles also have a distinct advantage for players who wear glasses as they stay in place during the game.

During the height of competition, it can be challenging for a player to keep pushing back his glasses as he competes.

Glasses are distracting, and continuously adjusting them could cost the player quality scoring opportunities. Prescription basketball goggles are, therefore, a better option.

Goggles Keep Sweat Off the Eyes

Basketball goggles also keep sweat out of the players’ eyes, making it easier for them to see and play. Most basketball goggles also have excellent ventilation, which can help with fogging.

They are designed to protect the whole eye area from high impact encounters and sweat accumulation, making it more comfortable and seamless for the player to compete.

Famous NBA Players with Goggles

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

The legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar needs no introduction, being one of the greatest basketball players in the NBA. In his career, he won the NBA title and MVP award six times and made the All-Star team an incredible 19 times.

Abdul-Jabbar wore goggles after getting his cornea scratched when he played against the University of California in 1968. After that incident, he did not want to risk losing his eyesight and adopted basketball goggles as a protective mechanism.

Horace Grant

The legendary Chicago Bulls player Horace Grant wore goggles on the court not to prevent injuries but to see well on the court.

Eventually, these statement pieces became a part of his look as he played several years in the NBA wearing his signature goggles.


In the 1990s, he underwent corrective eye surgery that restored his vision.

Interestingly, Grant continued wearing the goggles, despite not needing to, to encourage young children to wear their protective eye gear when they played basketball.

Kurt Rambis

Kurt Rambis wore Buddy Holly-style glasses as part of his signature look and to help him see well on the court.

While playing with Magic Johnson at the Lakers, Rambis won four NBA championships and was a rock in the Lakers’ defense.


James Worthy

James Worthy, a Lakers man, joined the NBA in 1982.

He was an outstanding player and a three-time NBA champion with a natural talent for the game. In 1985, he suffered a scratched cornea during a Utah Jazz game and wore protective goggles from the next game to his career's end.

More About Why NBA Players Wearing Goggles

Why doesn’t Steph Curry wear goggles?

Warriors player Steph Curry suffered from a cornea condition known as keratoconus, a disease where the cornea thins over time and changes from its natural circular shape to a cone.

Because of it, the person with the condition develops blurred vision. However, Steph Curry chose not to wear prescription basketball goggles but contact lenses instead.

Why do NBA players wear goggles when celebrating?

NBA players often celebrate with champagne.

However, champagne contains alcohol, and during the celebratory spray, some of it may get into the eyes.

Unfortunately, the alcohol content in champagne is high enough to cause severe damage to the eyes. NBA players, therefore, wear goggles to protect their eyes from the alcohol spray.

Conclusion: On NBA Players Wearing Goggles

Not many NBA stars wear goggles nowadays, as the trend of doing so has somewhat passed. Many choose to wear face masks instead to protect their faces from injuries when playing the game.

However, ophthalmologists and sports medicine experts encourage the use of goggles when playing basketball, whether you’re an amateur or professional player.

Young children, especially those learning the game, should wear goggles to protect them from sustaining eye injuries.

Although you don’t see many players sport this eyewear on the court nowadays, it’s only a matter of time before the trend starts making a comeback.

Eye injuries are frequent occurrences in basketball competition, and protective goggles can prevent them from happening while also keeping unwanted sweat from clouding the player’s vision.

You might also like: Best Basketball Goggles for Maximum Eye Protection

Joshua Bast

My name is Joshua Bast and I have been playing basketball ever since I was 7 years old. I love the game play, I love the feeling whenever I score a basket, but what made me fell in love was the camaraderie with my team mates. This blog is dedicated to help any up-and-coming basketball players maximize their potential.

Joshua Bast