Did you know that there are more than 30,000 sports-related eye injuries treated each year? And that 90 percent of serious eye injuries can be prevented by wearing protective eyewear? Know the facts about protecting and keeping your eyes safe during sports.
What is Sports Eye Safety Month?
Because such a high percentage of sports-related eye injuries are preventable, the organization Prevent Blindness has declared September as Sports Eye Safety Month. The goal is to educate people on how to keep their eyes and vision healthy while participating in sports.
Are your eyes at risk?
Some sports are riskier than others when it comes to your eyes. The American Academy of Ophthalmology reports that basketball is the leading cause of sports-related injuries, followed by baseball, softball, lacrosse, paintball, pellet guns, racquetball and hockey. In all of these sports, play moves at an extremely fast rate, with participants in close range.
You may be at lower risk if you play a sport that doesn’t include any balls, projectiles or aggressive play — such as cycling or gymnastics.
However, no matter the sport, there are risks to your eyes. Just about any participant in any sport can benefit from wearing protective eyewear that guards against fast-moving objects, debris, or dust, dirt and sand.
Especially if you wear prescription eyeglasses (which aren’t made for sports) or contact lenses, you should talk to your eye doctor about what he or she recommends for your specific sport and eye care needs.
Even if you don’t play at all, and just prefer to watch from the stands, you could be subject to injury from a flying bat, ball or other object. Bottom line: Be careful to protect your eyes, whatever the situation.
What sports eye injuries should you be aware of?
Blunt trauma — which occurs when you get hit in the eye — is the culprit of most sports-related eye injuries. These can include a broken bone under the eyeball (what your doctor would call an orbital blowout fracture), a broken eyeball (also called a ruptured globe), and a detached retina.
Penetrating injuries are less common and happen when something cuts into your eye, such as if your eyeglasses break from being hit.
Another type of injury, called a radiation injury, comes from exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet light. If you snow ski or participate in water sports, you could be at risk.
What can you do to protect your eyes?
The best place to start is your eye doctor, even if you don’t currently have a vision prescription. He or she will be able to recommend the best types of protective eyewear.
Here are some other tips for selecting protective eyeglasses or sunglasses for sports:
- Know that every sport has a specific ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) standards. Be sure to check the package for the protective eyewear you’re considering to get the appropriate designation.
- Select lenses made of polycarbonate, which resist shattering.
- Double check the lenses to make sure they are secure in the frames and won’t pop inward (toward your eye) easily.
- Protective eyewear should be designed so that the lenses pop outward, away from your eye.
- Look for padding or cushioning along the brow and bridge of the nose. This will help keep your eyewear in place and prevent it from cutting into your skin.
- Try before you buy to make sure you’re getting the right fit. Your optician can help you with that, as well.
- If eyewear that fogs up could be an issue in your sport and limit visibility, look for anti-fog coatings and side vents.
- Look for wraparound styles that ensure your entire field of vision is covered.
- If you exercise outdoors, protect your eyes against the sun’s harmful rays by choosing lenses that block 99% to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays.
- Consider which lens tint will limit glare and add clarity and contrast for your particular sport.
Need to find out which protective eyewear is right for you? We can help! Contact us to schedule an appointment today.