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Eye Safety During Sports – How to Play Safe

eye safety baseball

Spring is here, and it’s very fitting that April is also Sports Eye Safety month. From team sports like baseball and softball starting up, to impromptu basketball pickup games and golfing, it’s a fun time of year!

With the increase in activities, it’s important to refresh on eye safety during sports and what the recommendations are for you and your family. Read on to learn more from our experts…

What sports pose a higher risk for eye injuries?

While injuries can occur in any sport, there are certainly those that are considered higher risk. Based on research shared by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), basketball has the leading cause of sports-related eye injuries, followed by baseball, softball, airsoft rifles, pellet guns, racquetball and hockey.

Because of the higher risks these sports pose, proper gear and eyewear protection is that much more critical. It can be confusing to know which eyewear is correct, however, as there are so many options currently available to consumers. We also sometimes hear from patients that they don’t need eye protection, or it’s too cumbersome, which is a common misconception.

Why wear eye protection while playing sports?

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), each year an estimated 100,000 people are hurt by sports-related eye injuries. Of those injuries, about 13,500 of them result in permanent vision loss.

Different sports require different protective eyewear, so it’s important to educate yourself – and talk to your eye doctor – before beginning a sport. For example, regular eyeglasses do not provide proper eye protection, and can actually cause more damage if they shatter.

The encouraging news is that about 90% of sports-related eye injuries could be prevented by wearing the correct protective eyewear. So, what should you choose?

What is the correct protective eyewear?

For sports like basketball, racquetball, soccer and field hockey, AAO recommends protective sports glasses with shatterproof plastic – called polycarbonate lenses. You should also make sure that the eyewear you choose has been tested and meets the standards of the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) or passed the CSA racquet sports standard.

If you are participating in sports involving snow or water – like skiing, as an example – wear protective glasses or goggles that have UV protection to shield eyes from sunburn and glare.

A full list of protective eyewear requirements and guidelines can be found here on the AAO website.

What should I do if I get injured?

If you or a loved one suffers an eye injury while playing a sport, call your eye doctor immediately. They will be able to provide guidance and care recommendations remotely or determine if the injury requires immediate medical attention.

Common eye injury symptoms to look out for include:

  • Injury to the eyelid, such as a cut or tear
  • Difficulty seeing
  • Persistent pain in the eye
  • Changes in eye movement
  • Unusual pupil shape or size
  • Sensation that there is something stuck in the eye

Our team of world-class ophthalmologists is here if you have any questions or concerns. Contact us today to schedule a comprehensive eye exam, or to address any further questions about proper eyewear protection while playing sports.