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April is Sports Eye Safety Month

by Stephanie 7 April 2013 12:55 PM
From major league baseball stadiums to small town ball fields, athletes of all ages are competing against each other, building physical fitness, entertaining millions and teaching the value of hard work and teamwork.

But for more than 40,000 athletes each year, their game can be ruined by an errant finger, misjudged catch or a stray ball.  That's the number of sports related eye injuries that occur annually in the United States.  Approximately one-third of eye-injury victims are children.  In fact, eye injuries are one of the leading causes of visual impairment in children.  These injuries range from corneal abrasions and eyelid bruising to internal eye damage such as retinal detachments and internal bleeding.  Unfortunately, some of these young athletes end up with permanent vision loss and perhaps blindness.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the only way to prevent a sports-related eye injury is for athletes to wear appropriate, sport-specific protective eyewear properly fitted by an eye care professional.  Lenses made from polycarbonate materials provide the highest level of impact protection; they can withstand the impact of a ball or other projectile traveling at 90 miles per hour.

Many sports create risk for eye injuries; however, protection is available for most activities, including basketball, baseball, hockey, football, lacrosse, fencing, paintball, as well as raquetball, tennis, soccer, and water sports.  Most sporting leagues don't require children to wear eye protection, so parents should insist that their children wear eye protection when they play.  Parents can also set a good example by wearing protective eyewear when they participate in sports. 

Even a seemingly light blow can cause a serious eye injury.  If a black eye, pain or visual problem occurs after a blow, contact your eye care provider immediately.

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