Every year, close to 6,000 Americans suffer an eye injury related to playing basketball, according to estimates by Prevent Blindness America. In fact, The Coalition to Prevent Sports Eye Injuries reports that 1 in 10 college basketball players will sustain an eye injury.
In addition, eye injuries from water sports and activities were the second most-reported sports-related eye injury. These include swimming, surfing, scuba diving, and water skiing/tubing. The use of guns, including air, gas, spring, and BB, caused the most eye injuries in those ages 14 and younger.
Eye injuries from any sport can include infection, corneal abrasions, blunt trauma, inflamed iris, fracture of the eye socket, swollen or detached retinas or even a traumatic cataract. And in some cases, a significant eye injury can cause permanent vision loss.
Because most eye injuries can be avoided by wearing proper eye protection, Prevent Blindness America has dedicated September as Sports Eye Safety Awareness Month to educate the public on the best ways to keep eyes safe to stay in the game.
Guidelines for the Best Eye Protection
The group has put together guidelines to help consumers find the best eye protection. Consider sharing them with parents, teens, and other patients who play sports.
• Those who wear prescription glasses should ask their eye care practitioner (ECP) to be fitted with prescription eye protection.
• Monocular athletes should consult with an ECP to determine which sports are safe to participate in. Monocular athletes should always wear sports eye protection.
• Sports protective eyewear should be labeled as ASTM F803 approved. Check the packaging to ensure that the eye protector selected has been tested for sports use.
• Make sure the lenses either stay in place or pop outward in the event of an accident. Lenses that pop in against the eyes can be very dangerous.
• Fogging of the lenses can be a problem. Some types of protective eyewear are available with anti-fog coating.
Others have side vents for additional ventilation. Try on different types to determine which is most comfortable.
• Sports eye protection should be padded or cushioned along the brow and bridge of the nose. Padding will prevent the eye protection from cutting the skin.
• Try on the eye protector to determine if it’s the right size before purchasing. Adjust the strap and make sure it’s not too tight or too loose.
• All athletes should get an eye exam from an eyecare professional. An expert may be able to detect a vision problem and improve performance in addition to saving sight later in life.
For more information, go to www.optometrytimes.modernmedicine.com, or call your local Optometrist Office.