Every year, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), emergency rooms across the United States see approximately 42,000 sports-related eye injuries. That’s one eye trauma in the ER every 13 minutes. Sadly, nearly one-third of these injuries—about 13,500—end with permanent vision loss.
In fact, sports-related eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in school-aged children in the U.S.—and it doesn’t have to be that way. An estimated 90 percent of serious eye injuries are preventable.
Now, with our important stats out of the way, let’s talk about how these injuries happen and how to avoid them.
How Sports Eye Injuries Happen
Just about any activity you enjoy could end in an eye injury. It could be an elbow to the face during a lively basketball game, a high-speed tennis ball on the court, or even dust and debris getting kicked up on the field on a gusty day. However, there are certain types of sports in which players are more prone to injury than others:
Football, soccer, ice hockey, martial arts, wrestling
Games with balls and projectiles:
Basketball, racquetball, tennis, paintball, archery
Sports using bats and clubs:
Baseball, softball, golf, lacrosse
Activities where trips and falls occur:
Cycling, swimming, track, gymnastics
Since most sports eye injuries result from direct impacts on the eye(s), it makes sense that the most effective way to prevent injury is to put a barrier between your eyes and potential impacts. Individuals who wear eyeglasses may assume that their prescription lenses will serve double-duty as vision correction and eye protection, but it’s not that simple.
Eyeglasses and contact lenses can actually increase the risk of eye injuries in sports. Regular glasses can shatter on impact, putting you at risk of cuts to the delicate eyes. They can slip and slide during a game, interfering with an athlete’s nimbleness and putting him or her at greater risk of falls and collisions.
Likewise, contact lenses can fall out, slip out of place or trap dirt, sweat and debris underneath, leading to pain or even infections.
Protective Eyewear: Your Best Eye Safety Equipment
The fact is prescription eyeglasses, contacts, and sunglasses excel at what they were designed for: improving vision and shielding our eyes from damaging UV light. They weren’t made to stand up to high-speed balls and aggressive gameplay.
For that, you need protective eyewear that was specifically designed to withstand the rigors of sports. For $20 to $60, you could protect your delicate eyes from painful, potentially sight-stealing mishaps.
How to Get the Best Protective Eyewear
Follow a few guidelines to get the best protection for your eyes, no matter what sport you favor:
A Note About LASIK for Athletes
While permanent vision correction through LASIK eye surgery won’t prevent you from needing good eye protection, it will simplify things.
First, LASIK is designed to provide crisp, clear vision without the need for prescription eyewear. Better vision will naturally help you see your surroundings in greater detail and avoid hazards more effectively. Plus, sweat and dust won’t get trapped in contact lenses, causing irritation or infection.
Of course, if you do receive an eye injury during sports or any pastime, seek immediate medical care at your nearest emergency room.
Missouri Eye Institute has helped thousands of patients attain freedom from glasses and contact lenses. Call us at (800) 383-3831 to schedule a thorough eye exam or visit MissouriEye.com to learn more about our services.
Very professional and friendly. I have been here twice in the last two years and I would highly recommend them to anyone.
Staff was informative and caring. They explained what to expect at every step of the procedure. Lots of caring and information.
The entire staff at MEI was very kind and professional. I highly recommend them for your eye care. Very friendly!