Sports are an excellent way to stay active, improve cardiovascular health, and teach important skills such as teamwork, communication, and critical thinking skills. However, many sports can cause eye injuries which are a leading cause of blindness in children. There are over 40,000 sports-related eye injuries seen in United States emergency rooms every year! The good news is that with proper protective eyewear over 90% of serious eye injuries can be prevented. It is important to know how to protect your eyes in each sport that you play and what to do in the case of an eye injury.
Regular glasses and contact lenses alone are not enough to protect the eyes in contact and non-contact sports. Protective eyewear should be made from impact-resistant materials such as polycarbonate which is up to 10 times more durable than other lens materials. Protective eyewear should meet the requirements set by the American National Standards Institute and are typically stamped with ANSI Z87.1. Sports-friendly eyeglasses can be made in all types of sizes and prescriptions. Ask your eye care provider about which pair they would recommend for you!
Along with high-quality, impact-resistant eyewear, many sports have additional precautions that you can take to protect your eyes.
Football: It is important to wear your helmet any time you are playing or practicing to prevent getting hit in the eyes from arms, elbows, and footballs. Visors can be added to many football helmets to offer another layer of protection from smaller debris and UV rays from the sun.
Ice Hockey and Men’s Lacrosse: Players should wear helmets with either a polycarbonate face mask or a wire shield to protect the eyes from flying objects. Hockey masks should be approved by the Hockey Equipment Certification Council or the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).
Girls' and Women's Lacrosse players should wear protective eyewear that meets the current ASTM standard, F3077-17.
Baseball and Softball: Batting helmets should be equipped with faceguards to prevent being hit in the face or eyes by a pitch or by a deflection on a foul ball.
Racket Sports: Players should wear eye protection at all times when playing sports such as Racquetball or squash due to the high velocity of the ball and swinging rackets. Eye guards should be approved to ASTM F3164-19 standards.
Those who participate in any outdoor sports should also wear glasses or sunglasses with proper UV protection. It is especially important for any Snow or Water Sports as UV rays can reflect off of the water and snow and damage your eyes.
Even if you’re just a spectator you should still take caution with your eyes. Watch out for flying objects such as balls, bats, sticks, and racquets, and wear UV protection when outdoors!
If you do happen to get an eye-related injury seek immediate care with an optometrist, ophthalmologist, or at an emergency room. Even minor eye-related injuries can lead to long-term complications such as vision loss or blindness if not treated properly. If you have any questions about which type of protective eyewear is right for you please ask your eye care provider or check out the links below!