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Sports Eye Safety—it’s an April Focus!

April 22nd, 2020

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), each year an estimated 100,000 people are hurt by sports-related eye injuries and about 13,500 of these injuries result in permanent vision loss. In support of Sports Eye Safety Month this April, Wolfe Eye Clinic joins AOO in reminding athletes everywhere how eye injuries can be avoided with proper protection. Read on to find some important safety tips, facts, and guidelines to help minimize the amount of eye injuries that happens from sports.

Sports Eye Safety—Know the Facts 

Sports play a significant role in many people’s lives. Playing sports can be a lot of fun, until someone gets hurt. In fact, 90% of eye related injuries from sports could be prevented by wearing the proper protective eyewear according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Even if you don’t need glasses or contacts for everyday life, you should be wearing protective eyewear no matter what while engaging in sports, outdoor activities or any activity that may put your eyes at risk. Eye protection is critical in sports, don’t wait until it’s too late to protect your eyes!

Regardless of your age, sports-related eye injuries occur in all age groups. From all age groups, most sports-related injuries that have a higher risk than others occur in basketball, baseball, swimming, and football. However, flying objects such as a ball are not the only causes of injuries. Many injuries come from sports with close contact to another person causing injuries of pokes and jabs from fingers and elbows. For ages 14 years and younger the highest injuries occur in basketball and baseball. According to Prevent Blindness, 72% of sports-related eye injuries occur in people 25 years and younger. Along with an estimated of 33,000 sports-related injuries that must be treated at an emergency room each year. 

Sports Protection and Prevention for Eyes

The right protective eyewear can prevent 9 out of 10 sports related eye injuries. Your eye care provider can provide and recommend appropriate eyewear for any sports activity. Regular eyeglasses, sunglasses and contacts don’t protect from sports related eye injuries, luckily most protective eye wear can be matched to your prescriptions. 

Protective eyewear is made of a strong polycarbonate material which is a type of plastic. This material is very impact resistant and protects from ultraviolet rays. There are several different types of gear out there that include, safety goggles, face guards, and specific eye wear for specific sports.

Below are options for protective gear recommended by Prevent Blindness for the sports with the highest injuries:

  • Baseball – a face guard when batting that attaches to a helmet and sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses when fielding
  • Basketball- sport goggles with polycarbonate lenses
  • Soccer- sport goggles with polycarbonate lenses
  • Football- a face shield that attaches to a helmet

Helpful Guidelines and Tips for Sports Eye Safety

When you’re active, fogging of the lenses can be a problem when wearing protective eyewear and it can deter adults or children from wanting to wear them. There are a couple options to help prevent the fogging, one is finding sports goggles that have a built-in anti-fog coating on the lens. Another option would be sports goggles with air vents on the side that allow additional ventilation.

Another tip is to never purchase any kind of sports goggles without the lenses installed. It is important to check to see how the lenses will react and whether they pop outward or if they stay in place if an accident were to occur. It can be very dangerous if the lenses pop inward toward your face, especially your eyes.

It is also important to find protective eyewear that is padded or cushioned on the bridge of the nose and along the brow. The padding will prevent the eyewear from cutting into your skin and will additionally help in being more comfortable and secure.

Also finding the right size and fit according to what type of sport you are wanting the protective eyewear for is important. Since they are made in many different shapes, styles and sizes, and there is a variety to choose from. Some are even designed to fit in helmets. The best way to determine if it’s the right fit is simply trying it on. By adjusting the strap and checking if it’s too loose or too tight. If you purchased your protective eyewear at an optical store, an optician can help you adjust and find a comfortable fit. 

Best advice is to stick with it! It may feel strange of funky at first, but until you get used to wearing a pair of safety goggles it might take a little time to adjust to the changes.

Understanding the Importance of Sports Eye Safety

An accident can happen in the blink of any eye, and when it comes to sports just about anything can happen and it can be very unpredictable. Regardless of any age, eye injuries happen. If you are out there being active in sports make sure you are taking the necessary precautions in preventing these injuries from happening. Remember, by wearing the appropriate protective eyewear 9 out of 10 times you can prevent an eye-related injury. 

If you experience and eye injury, it is important to you immediately reach out to your local emergency service, primary care or eye provider. They can refer you to a specialist at Wolfe Eye Clinic as well. Here at Wolfe Eye Clinic we are here for your eye-related injuries when you need us. Call us at 1 (800) 542-7946 for an appointment or with questions. With multiple locations throughout the state of Iowa we are here to help. 

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