The aim was to review the prevalence of spectacle-related ocular trauma and the performance of currently available spectacle materials and to identify the risk factors associated with spectacle-related ocular trauma. A literature review was conducted using Medline, Embase and Google with the keywords 'eyeglasses' OR 'spectacles' AND 'ocular injury' / 'eye injury'/ 'eye trauma' / 'ocular trauma'. Articles published prior to 1975 were excluded from this review because of advances in spectacle lens technology and Food and Drug Administration legislative changes requiring impact resistance of all prescription spectacle lenses in the United States. Six hundred and ninety-five individual ocular traumas, for which spectacles contributed to or were the main cause of injury, were identified in the literature. Eye injuries occurred when spectacles were worn in sports, in which medium- to high-impact energies were exerted from balls, racquets or bats and/or as a result of a collision with another player. Frame, lens design and product material choice were found to be associated with ocular injury, with polycarbonate lenses cited as the material of choice in the literature. International, regional and national standards for spectacle lenses had a wide range of impact requirements for prescription spectacle lenses, sports eye protection and occupational eye protection. Spectacle-related injury represents a small but preventable cause of ocular injury. With the increasing numbers of spectacle wearers and calls to spend more time outdoors to reduce myopia, spectacle wearers need to be made aware of the potential risks associated with wearing spectacles during medium- to high-risk activities. At particular risk are those prone to falls, the functionally one-eyed, those who have corneal thinning or have had previous eye surgery or injury. With increased understanding of specific risk factors, performance guidelines can be developed for prescription spectacle eye-protection requirements.