EYE INJURIES AND SPORTS
With spring sports right around the corner, as you suit up think about eye protection. Planning ahead and having the proper eye gear when the season starts will help to keep you and your kids safe as they play a variety of sports this spring.
A Sports Safety Report by The Vision Council Academy of Ophthalmology, recommends protective eyewear for any sport, even for children who don’t wear glasses or contacts. Some states and sport organizations have requirements for shin guards but not for sports protective eyewear
Eye injuries most often occur in baseball, basketball, ice hockey and racquet sports, yet few parents encourage their children to wear protective eyewear when playing these sports
For children 14 and under, baseball is a leading cause of sports-related eye injury. With nearly 31,000 people a year suffering injuries from eye related sports injuries, now is the time to plan. Wearing the proper protective eye gear can mean the difference between a successful season and an unfavorable one.
In baseball, ice hockey and men’s lacrosse, a helmet with a polycarbonate (an especially strong, shatterproof, lightweight plastic) face mask or wire shield should be worn at all times. It is important that hockey face masks be approved by the Hockey Equipment Certification Council or the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).
The following chart from the Vision Council Academy of Ophthalmology represents the recommended type of eye protection for a given sport.
Many people who wear prescription glasses often feel as though they provide sufficient protection from eye injuries associated with sports. Glasses, however, are not designed to withstand an impact. Sportswear glasses or goggles developed for sports are constructed of a much stronger plastic that is designed to absorb the impact without shattering or breaking.
If you do use prescription glasses you may find that having prescription glasses created for sports use may help to improve your game! Most eyewear designed for the rugged usage associated with sport provide a wraparound type of lens. This will help to prevent any foreign object from entering the sides of the eye where normal prescription glasses do not cover. This also means that with safety sportswear glasses, you have a much larger range of vision, which may help to improve your game.
For those who don’t wear prescription glasses, safety glasses have come a long way and in many cases, look very similar if not identical to sunglasses. For night games and practices, glasses also come with clear to bright tinting which may help to improve your night vision.
Make sure the level of eye protection you or others in your family use is appropriate for the type of activity. Whether you are a parent, teacher, or coach, you can encourage schools to adopt a policy on protective eyewear. Meanwhile, parents and coaches should insist that children wear protective eyewear whenever they play sports and be good role models and wear it themselves.
About the author: John D. Bissell, owner of Bissell Eye Care and Tri-State Low Vision Services, offers comprehensive eye examinations for the entire family, ocular disease detection and treatment, eye glasses, sun glasses, active wear, contact lenses, and low vision examinations for those with significant vision loss. He has undergone specialized training for treatment of low vision by the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists utilizing customized telescopic eyeglasses, prisms and telescopic implants for patients who qualify. The practice accepts most types of vision and health insurance plans.