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Sports and Eye Safety: How to Prevent Injury

Research shows that about 30,000 people in the U.S. go to emergency departments each year with sports-related eye injuries. The right protective eyewear is the best defense against eye injury.

Protective Eyewear for Sports

Sports-Related Eye Injuries

"We see a wide variety of eye sports-related eye injuries," says Dr. Carrie Koenig, an optometrist at McFarland Eye Center. "Probably most common are abrasions where someone gets a finger in the eye, but a person can also suffer blunt force trauma from the force of a ball hitting them in the eye."

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, three sports accounted for almost half of all trips to the emergency room: basketball, baseball, and air/paintball guns. Dr. Koenig says injuries can range from bruises, to iris damage, to cataracts to retinal detachments or bleeding.

Preventing Sports-Related Eye Injuries

Although youth sports organizations do not require the use of eye protection, most serious eye injuries can be prevented with protective eyewear. "I usually recommend that people who play sports use Trivex lenses because they are lightweight and impact resistant," says Dr. Koenig.

Keep the following tips in mind:

  • Athletes should wear sports eye protection that meets requirements set by appropriate organizations.
  • Parents should make sure that children wear eye protection. Most often, those who sustain sports-related eye injuries are 18 years old or younger.
  • Eye protection can weaken with age and may no longer provide adequate protection. Replace when damaged or yellowed.
  • For basketball, racquet sports, soccer and field hockey, wear protective eyewear with trivex or polycarbonate lenses.
  • Athletes who wear contacts or glasses should also wear appropriate protective eyewear..
  • Athletes should wear sports goggles that meet national standards.

What to Do When You Suffer an Eye Injury

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) says that when an eye injury occurs, it is important to recognize and treat it properly right away. The AAO recommends having an ophthalmologist or other medical doctor examine the eye as soon as possible, even if the injury seems minor at first. You can be seen by an ophthalmologist or your primary care provider. If the injury is serious it may be necessary to go to the emergency room or Urgent Care. Click here to learn how to recognize if an eye injury is serious.

More Information

The following links contain additional information about protecting your child's eyes when playing sports:

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