Vision Awareness During Sports Eye Safety Month

We all know to wear protective eyewear while working with caustic materials, at a construction site, or while chopping wood, but most of us don’t protect our eyes while playing sports.

Did you know that close to 50% of eye injuries occur during sports or recreational activities? According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, there are about 100,000 eye injuries each year resulting from sports. Of that, an estimated 42,000 are treated in the emergency room, and 13,500 end up legally blind.

So what sports are most likely to cause eye injury?

Any sport can result in eye injury. Even in gym class you can get poked or elbowed in the eye; however, sports with high-speed ball action, punching, or kicking, are more likely to result in serious eye injury. Such sports include:

  • Racquetball and Tennis
  • Basketball
  • Baseball
  • Soccer and Lacrosse
  • Martial Arts and Boxing

Types of eye injuries

The Types of Injuries Suffered can range from minor to serious, such as:

  • Corneal Abrasions – This is a scratch or scrape on the cornea caused by a foreign object, such as a fingernail from a finger poke. Although painful, it is usually minor. It does, however, have the potential to scar the eye, which can affect vision.
  • Detached Retina – This is when the retina peels away, or detaches, from its support tissue at the back of the eye. This can occur if you receive a blow to the eye. A detached retina is a medical emergency that, if left untreated, can lead to permanent vision loss.
  • Orbital Fracture – This is an injury to the bone of the eye socket. It is usually the result of blunt force trauma to the eye that causes the orbital bones to buckle or break. In sports, high-speed balls, punches or elbows usually cause orbital fractures.

So what should you do to protect your eyes while playing sports?

  • Wear shatterproof sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses, or a facemask, that meets the standards of the American Society of Testing Materials (ASTM)
  • If you wear glasses or contacts, have your prescription put in a pair of sports goggles that meet the safety requirements. Neither glasses nor contacts will protect your eyes.
  • Children and adults who have vision in only one eye should be extra vigilant about wearing protective eyewear during all sports-related activities, so as not to cause injury to their better seeing eye.
  • Replace any goggles that are yellowed, damaged or worn.

Obviously, we don’t always have safety goggles available to wear if we decide to play a pick-up game of basketball or soccer. We should, however, be more careful about wearing them during planned sporting activities.