Each year, hospital emergency rooms in the U.S. treat nearly 30,000 sports-related injuries. “The good news is that 90% of serious eye injuries could be prevented by [using] appropriate protective eyewear,” according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). To increase public awareness of the importance of donning protective eyewear while playing sports, Prevent Blindness has declared September Sports Eye Safety Month. New data show that in 2021, more than 26,000 sports-related eye injuries were treated nationwide. The highest rate of injuries occurred in the category of “’non-powder guns, darts, arrows, and slingshots.’” For young children, ages 0 through 12, “’pools and water sports’” reported the highest injury rate. Injuries may include eye infections, irritations, scratches, or trauma. To avoid mishaps, here are a few pointers from Prevent Blindness on finding eye protection for sports:
– For those who wear prescription glasses, an eye doctor can fit the player with prescription eye guards, which can be purchased at optical or sports specialty stores.
– Eyeguards made of polycarbonate are the most impact resistant, are shatterproof, and provide ultraviolet (UV) protection.
– When considering eye guards with lenses, be sure that the lenses stay in place or pop out if and when an accident occurs. Lenses popping against the eyes can be extremely dangerous.
– Each sport has a specific standard set by the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials), an organization that develops standards globally. When purchasing a device/protector, be sure the package has the appropriate ASTM standard for the sport.
The AAO urges spectators at sporting events to be careful, to be aware that balls, bats, and players may land in the stands. They recommend that spectators “keep their eyes on the game” and be on the lookout for stray balls and other flying objects. For those with reduced vision, AAO and Prevent Blindness advise checking with an eyecare professional about what eye protection is appropriate and whether they recommend participating in any “high impact or high-risk” sports.
For more information, read the press release entitled September is Sports Eye Safety Month at Prevent Blindness as well as the AAO web page on Sports Eye Safety.