NGL Position on Eye Shields & Ruling

An eyeshield is a piece of football equipment. It is a visor that attaches to the helmet of a player to protect the eyes.

In the United States and around the world in most leagues, only clear eye shields are allowed. Under certain conditions at higher levels, a tinted eye shield may be permitted if the player receives a waiver from a trainer or a doctor to wear tinted or reflective visors. High school and college rules prohibit the use of tinted eye shields. As many leagues – particularly amateur – around the world apply NCAA rules, they also ban the use of tinted eye shields. Rules require eyeshields to be entirely clear. It must be 100% tint/color free to qualify as “clear.”

The key concern with players using eyeshields is player safety. The concern is that when a player is injured, trainers cannot see the players eyes without having to manipulate the helmet to remove the eye shield. The rationale is that medical personnel cannot make a proper or accurate assessment of head injuries & eye injuries when viewing the pupils’ reactivity to light through a tinted eye shield.

Further, a tinted eyeshield would need to be removed to assess a concussion or head injury and the risk to the cervical spine or brain in removing the eyeshield is too high a risk. The medical community argues that the benefit of a clear eyeshield to protect the eyes and face is proper and a benefit to player’s safety but the tinting creates a problem in the evaluation of eye and head injuries and therefore recommends the eyeshield / visor be permitted, however tinted eyeshields are prohibited.

The National Gridiron League has taken many factors into account when ruling on the use of eyeshields. This included the access to and visibility of player’s eyes and managing concussion. Other important factors that needed to be considered include the bright and hot Australian sun and the impact of prolonged exposure as NGL gaames are played during daylight hours. Optometrists strongly recommend to use Ultra Violet (UV) eye protection when outdoors in Australia, particularly around the midday sun.

The NGL risk managmenent committee conducted relevant risk identification and assessment and based on the frequency of exposure, tinted eyeshields are a necessary control. The league will be able to mitigte most of the expsure to the risks associated with eyeshields restricting access to the eyes, by mandating the use of quick release clips on all eyeshields. Modern tool-less, quick release visor clips enable relatively easy and safe removal of visors.

The medical community has recommended that if tinting is required for a medical condition then the therapeutic remedy could be achieved by dark or tinted glasses, goggles or contact lens thus making the need for a tinted visor unnecessary. The medical community further argue that it is safer and easier to remove glasses, contact lens or goggles without jeopardizing or compromising a spinal or brain injury. The NGL risk managment committee has determined that the use of tool-less, quick release clips in most cirumstances poses a lesser hazard than attempting to cut or removed goggles that generally require a band around the head.

The NGL formal ruling on eye shields is as follows:

Clear and tinted eye shields are optional and may be worn by players. Reflective eye shields require League approval for the shield reflective color. Clear reflective eyes shields may be worn. Eye shields must have all quick release fittings. Visible identification of a manufacturer’s or vendor’s name or logotype on the eye shield is not permitted. Only logotypes and markings under a commercial arrangement between the League and the vendor are permitted. The League has final approval..’

The NGL does permit the use of tinted and reflective eye shields however league approval is required for coloured tints. Tool-less, quick release clips are mandatory. The NGL permitting the use of tinted eye shields is not new. Many prominent professional level American football leagues in North America, particularly indoor leagues permit the use of tinted eye shields.