The spring sports season is right around the corner, which is why the American Academy of Ophthalmology has designated April as Sports Eye Safety Awareness Month. Whether you have kids who are heading back to the playing field or you are gearing up to take your favorite sport back outside, taking a moment to consider the safety of your eyes can ensure you don’t miss a minute of play.
Keep reading to learn how to keep your eyes safe during Sports Eye Safety Awareness Month!
What Sports Can Cause Eye Injuries?
While any sport can cause eye injuries, some sports cause more than others. The sport that causes the most eye injuries is basketball.
Basketball is a fast-paced sport that involves a lot of physical contact, but often basketball participants do wear any sort of eye protection. Players’ eyes can be easily injured by the ball or other players.
The other sports with the highest rates of reported eye injury are baseball, softball, ice hockey, racquet sports, lacrosse, biking, and sports involving shooting, like paintball. With many of these sports, protective eyewear is not considered a standard piece of playing equipment.
What Types of Eye Injuries Occur in Sports?
Every year, US emergency rooms treat approximately 30,000 individuals with sports-related eye injuries, many of them children. While most of these injuries are minor, certain injuries sustained while playing sports can cause lasting vision impairment or even vision loss.
The most common eye sports-related eye injuries include:
Blunt Force Eye Trauma
Blunt force eye traumas occur when a solid object strikes the eye or the area around the eye. This sort of trauma can lead to relatively harmless injuries, like black eyes, or to more serious eye conditions, like detached retinas, ruptured eyeballs, and orbital fractures.
Corneal abrasions are caused when an object scratches the surface of the eye. In contact sports, this is often another player’s finger or fingernail, but abrasions can also be caused by debris on the playing field.
While corneal abrasions often heal on their own, they are extremely painful. Left untreated, an abrasion can develop into a corneal ulcer which can lead to permanent vision loss.
Eye Penetration Injuries
Eye penetration injuries occur when an object pierces the eyeball. Depending on where and how deeply the object has penetrated, these injuries can lead to blindness in the affected eye.
How Do You Prevent Sport-Related Eye Injuries?
The single most important thing you can do to prevent eye injuries while participating in sports is to wear the appropriate protective eyewear. You should look for protective eyewear that is made with polycarbonate lenses, which is a shatterproof plastic, and be sure that the eyewear protects the eye from all angles.
For sports like ice hockey or lacrosse, a face shield made of polycarbonate plastic or wire mesh might offer better protection than eyewear. Both eyewear and face shields should meet both the standards set by the Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) and have an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) rating that guarantees high impact resistance.
It is estimated that ninety percent of sports-related eye injuries are preventable. By taking a moment to consider the risks to your eye health posed by your sport of choice and protecting your eyes with the proper eye protection, you can be sure no one has to miss a minute of the game!
Be sure your eyes are sports-ready this spring with a comprehensive eye exam! Schedule an appointment at Shepherd Eye Center at one of our 5 locations in Las Vegas or Henderson, NV, today!