by B. E. Lewis, RDPFS Intern:
Eye injuries are a leading cause of vision loss in children in the United States, according to the National Eye Institute (NEI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The majority of these mishaps occur during sports activities. To address the issue, and avoid accidents, Prevent Blindness has declared September Sports Eye Safety Month. The goal of this commemoration is to educate the public about the importance of wearing proper eye protection while playing sports. They cite data indicating that “more than 32,000 sports eye injuries (were) treated last year, an increase of almost 20 percent over previous annual data.” Among the sports posing a high risk of eye injury are “non-powder guns, darts, arrows, and slingshots,” as well as pools and water sports, basketball, baseball, softball, and soccer, to name a few. Types of “sports-related eye injuries include blunt trauma, penetrating injuries, eye infections, and corneal scratches and abrasion.” Fortunately, according to NEI, using the right protective eyewear can prevent nine out of ten sports-related eye injuries. Athletes should always consult an eyecare professional to determine the best kind of eye protection for their sport and medical needs. Types of protective eyewear for sports include safety goggles, face guards, and special eyewear designed for specific sports. Although regular eyeglasses, sunglasses, and contact lenses don’t provide protection from eye injuries, most protective eyewear can be made to match glasses or contact lens prescriptions. Players can also wear safety goggles over their regular glasses or contacts. Protective eyewear is important whenever practicing or playing a sport that poses the risk of eye injury. In addition to offering fact sheets that can be downloaded, a dedicated webpage, and a variety of shareable social media graphics in English and Spanish, Prevent Blindness is also seeking to increase public awareness through the newest episode in their Focus on Eye Health Expert Series, “Sports Eye Safety.” Learn more about eye safety from the NEI’s webpage on Sports and Eye Safety: Tips for Parents and Teachers. For additional details about resources available from Prevent Blindness, read the press release announcing that Prevent Blindness Declares September as Sports Eye Safety Month to Educate Public on the Risk of Significant Eye Injuries and the Need for the Proper Sports Eye Protection.