It was the decision the country didn't see coming - Ardie Savea deciding to wear goggles in the All Blacks' next Rugby World Cup clash tomorrow.

And an eye expert says the decision would provide the dynamic loose forward with extra protection and better eye function on the pitch.

It was announced earlier today Savea would don the goggles, which were designed to protect not only himself but the other players.

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Savea first noticed his vision deteriorating a few years ago but after it continued to worsen, he sought advice from All Blacks doctor Tony Page.

"We're doing something about it," Savea said.

"Doc notified me that World Rugby had some goggles that were approved and everyone has been really supportive.

"In terms of vision and seeing, it's pretty sweet, and it's now just a matter of getting used to them."

Ardie Savea wearing his goggles. Photo / Getty
Ardie Savea wearing his goggles. Photo / Getty

Without knowledge of Savea's eyesight, Dr Trevor Gray told the Herald the All Black proved poor vision didn't exactly equal retirement for an athlete.

"What he's showing is there are now modern vision correction options that are safe to use in a high contact sport like professional rugby.

"Some people can't wear [contact lenses] safely, or they can't stay safely in the eye, some are just not suited to contact lenses, most people are."

Sports goggles were the perfect option for athletes who were not able to wear contact lenses, Gray, of Re:Vision, said.


They weren't a new concept, with professional basketball players like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar having used them in the 1970s and 1980s.

However, more modern goggles were often prescription incorporated whereas traditionally they had only offered protection.

"You get the best of both worlds, eye protection and vision correction. The number one [thing] is protection and people are seeing that now," Gray said.

"Professional sportsmen and women are increasingly aware of how crucial their eyesight is to their performance ... so you're now getting better protection and better function with some of these modern designs."

Ian McKinley was the first international player to wear the goggles. Photo / Getty
Ian McKinley was the first international player to wear the goggles. Photo / Getty

People who thought they might benefit from sports goggles should speak to an optometrist, Gray said.

Meanwhile, Savea's decision would prove to have a "huge positive impact", Essilor Vision Foundation spokesperson Kumuda Setty said.

"His decision will show parents and children that wearing glasses is cool and it does not restrict them from performing in sports activities which traditionally have not seen glasses-wearing players.

"Times have changed and there is a huge improvement from the previous generation to now about wearing glasses but there is still a gap in knowing whether the child has vision issues, diagnosing it and providing a solution in timely manner."

The thought of losing the remainder of his vision following damage to his good eye was the determining factor for Savea.

And while he didn't see himself as a role model for wearing the goggles, he was aware of the impact around his decision, especially with the visually impaired.

"If by me wearing these inspires them to get some, and for them to try out the game of rugby, then it's a positive all round for our sport."