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3 Steps You Can Take to Promote Eye Safety in Sports

by Damion Wasylow 31 March 2021 11:42 AM

little league baseball players sitting on the bench at a game
Data from the American Academy of Ophthalmology reveals more than 30,000 sports-related eye injuries are treated in U.S. emergency rooms each year. While one may be quick to associate many of these injuries with contact sports, like football, statistics show basketball, baseball and softball actually lead the list. Thankfully, up to 90% of these injuries can be prevented.

As you or your kids take to the field or the court this spring, a few simple precautions can go a long way to preserving your vision.

1. Wear Proper Safety Goggles

The eyes are delicate structures, prone to injury from most forms of contact. The ultimate way to protect them is with a physical barrier to prevent intrusion from any foreign object. Sports goggles come in a variety of shapes, sizes and styles, and feature impact-resistant lenses, often made of polycarbonate. They’re designed to fit snug to the face, preventing inadvertent contact with the eyes. Most sports goggles can be fitted with non-prescription or prescription lenses. While great for many sports, goggles are particularly important for basketball, where opponents’ fingers often make contact with the face while defending.

2. Use Helmets with Face Shields for Some Sports

High-speed projectiles and flailing sticks create unique risks in sports like baseball, softball, lacrosse and hockey. In these sports, goggles alone are often not enough. The blunt force of taking a speeding baseball or lacrosse stick to the face can shatter orbital bones and do irreparable harm to the eyes. For these sports, face shields (sometimes accompanied by goggles) should be standard equipment. Face shields are typically either built into helmets or they can be added. They are generally low-cost and provide substantial protection.

3. Guard Against UV Exposure

While traumatic injuries may pose the most obvious threat to eye safety, excessive exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can also have lasting negative impacts on vision. Long hours on a sunny practice or playing field can increase the risk of serious eye diseases, including eye cancers and cataracts. Whether you’re a participant or a spectator, if the sport takes place outdoors, it’s a good idea to wear sunglasses that provide 100 percent protection from UVA and UVB rays, the variations of ultraviolet rays that can be damaging to your eyes. Many sports goggles and shields come with UV protection, but check the label to be sure.

If you or someone you love enjoys participating in or watching sports in-person, now is the time to take these simple precautions to preserve your eye health. Talk to your optometrist to determine which equipment may be best for you.

To schedule your appointment to meet with an optometrist, contact North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision in Care today by calling 352-373-4300.



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