Practices and games for fall sports, such as soccer and football, are getting underway. Keep your kids’ eyes safe while they play. One-third of all sports-related eye injuries involve kids, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Whether your child is on the mat or the field, he’s at risk for a potentially serious incident. The three most common causes of eye injuries in sports are:
- Blunt trauma—When your child gets hit directly in the eye or around it, blunt trauma injuries can range from a simple black eye to a fractured orbital bone or detached retina.
- Penetration—Cuts to the eyes can be caused by outside objects, broken eyeglasses or even someone else’s finger.
- Radiation—Caused by excessive sun exposure, these occur most often in outdoor sports. Fortunately, when proper protective eyewear is used, 90 percent of serious eye injuries are avoidable.
In sports such as hockey and football, as well as specific positions in other sports, eye protection (such as facemasks with wire shields) is typically required. In many other sports, however, eye protection isn’t mandatory, so it’s up to you to ensure your child wears the proper gear. Did you know polycarbonate lenses protect 10 times better against impact than other options? Whether in glasses or goggle form, this material can protect your child during a wide range of sports. If your child wears eyeglasses or contacts, talk to your optometrist or ophthalmologist about the right kind of protective eyewear for her. Regular eyeglasses can shatter on impact and contribute to injury, rather than protect from it. Your child’s doctor can also ensure the eyewear you choose is properly fitted, giving your child the highest level of protection available with her gear. The Vision Council has set forth helpful recommendations about the eye protection needed for a variety of sports. Before you purchase anything, ensure the gear meets American Society of Testing Materials standards, as well as any standards set forth by the governing body of your child’s sport of choice.
Quick Hits: Sports-Related Eye Injuries
You might think you know the biggest culprit when it comes to overall sports-related eye injuries in kids and teens, but think again. The No. 1 cause, according to statistics compiled by Prevent Blindness, is water sports and other pool activities, with more than 5,000 estimated injuries each year.
The rest of the top eight causes of sports-related eye injuries hold a few surprises mixed in with the expected (all totals estimated by Prevent Blindness):
- Basketball—4,644 per year
- Baseball/Softball—2,353 per year
- Guns (Air, Gas, BB)—2,312 per year
- Football—1,762 per year
- Soccer—1,669 per year
- Bicycles—1,634 per year
- Weight Training/Other Exercise—1,278 per year
No matter his/her sport of choice, research eye protection options for your child. Injuries occur in unexpected places, and it’s preferable to prevent—rather than treat—those injuries.