Eye On The Ball: Sports And Eye Safety
Let’s play ball! With school and many sports seasons starting up again, we’re all excited to gear up and get in the game!
While we enjoy the fun, we should also take precautions against eye injuries, which are alarmingly common in sports.
Sports Eye Injury Statistics
Every year, 42,000 athletes have to go to the emergency room for eye injuries, and eye injuries like these are the leading cause of blindness in children still in school. An impact from a ball or another player in just the wrong place can lead to a host of injuries including corneal abrasions, fracturing of the orbital bone (eye socket), or swollen or detached retinas, just to name a few.
Eye injuries aren't limited to contact sports and those with projectiles like baseball and tennis, however. For outdoor sports, the sun can also be a problem, damaging players’ eyes with harmful UV rays.
Find The Right Eyewear For Your Sport
Now, before you pull your kids out of all of their fall sports programs, we’ll tell you the good news: eye injuries are easy to prevent. All it takes is the right eye protection.
Polycarbonate safety goggles offer excellent eye protection in sports like basketball and racquetball. Just make sure the goggles are labeled ASTM F803 approved, because these have been performance tested. Batting helmets should include polycarbonate face shields for baseball players to protect against wild pitches. Hockey players’ eyes also benefit from helmets with face shields that keep errant pucks and sticks at bay.
To learn more about how to properly fit a hockey helmet and face cage for optimal protection, watch the video below:
For water polo, the best eye protection might be no eye protection, unless you can find goggles that match the very specific guidelines set by USA Water Polo, the national governing organization of the sport. It’s usually best to wear goggles in the pool, but a flying elbow from an opponent or teammate could easily turn goggles into a hazard when players are swimming hard at such close quarters. Unless you have a strong prescription and can’t play effectively without prescription goggles, you could be safer playing goggles-free.
What About Regular Glasses?
If you already wear corrective lenses, it might not be such a great idea to take them onto the field with you. Glasses lenses could cause serious damage to the eyes if a blow causes them to shatter. Polycarbonate safety goggles, on the other hand, are designed to be shatter-proof. Contact lenses would also be preferable to glasses during a game—except in water sports. You should never wear contact lenses in the pool if you can’t also wear goggles.
We Can Help You Gear Up!
Eye injuries in sports are far too common and easy to avoid. Don’t leave the most vulnerable part of your face exposed to injury as you enjoy playing your favorite sports, and definitely don’t leave your kids vulnerable while they play theirs. If protective eyewear is an option, it should be worn, and your local Vision Source® member practice can help you find the perfect gear for the job!