Sports Eye Safety Month: 4 Ways to Protect Your Eyes

Posted by: Missouri Eye Institute in Blog on April 20, 2023

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), there are approximately 42,000 sports-related eye injuries that end up in emergency rooms across the United States every year. Nearly one-third result in permanent vision loss.

Sports-related injuries are the leading cause of vision loss in children in the U.S., and it is estimated that as much as 90 percent of these injuries could have been prevented. What to know how?

Keep your eyes – and the eyes of your young athletes – safe during rigorous time on the field or the court with these easy-to-follow safety guidelines.

1. Put up a physical barrier.

Athletes who wear glasses may assume their prescription will serve double duty as vision correction and eye protection, but it’s not that simple. In fact, glasses and contacts can actually increase the risk of eye injuries. Regular eyeglasses can shatter on impact, and contacts can slip, tear and trap dirt and debris, causing injuries and infections.

What to do:

Use eyewear that is specifically designed to be shatterproof and is appropriate for your sport(s). Decent quality protective eyewear is quite affordable, starting at about $20. Here’s what to look for:

Talk to your eye doctor about prescription protective eyewear, so you don’t have to double up on glasses and goggles.

2. Practice proper handwashing.

You slide head-first to home plate, shake your opponents’ sweaty hands, cling to chain-link fences and benches where germs thrive … These are all opportunities to introduce contamination and contagions into the delicate mucous membrane of the eye.

What to do:

Get into the habit of frequent – and proper – handwashing. Wash before and after eating, contact with potentially contaminated surfaces and handling equipment. When possible, wash your hands and wrists top and bottom with lots of soap and water for at least 20 seconds (about the time it takes to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”).

3. Avoid eye contact.

No, we’re not saying to avert your eyes! Rather, you should avoid letting your hands and fingers have direct contact with your eyeballs. Even briefly rubbing or picking at your eyes can cause microscopic tears to the tissue and introduce substances that can cause infection.

What to do:

Break the rubbing habit. One way to do this is to keep dry eyes comfortable with gentle, non-habit-forming eye drops. If irritation still crops up from time to time, soothe eyes with a warm compress. Be aware of the urge to rub your eyes and stop yourself before you do it. It may help to keep your hands busy with a hobby or wear comfortable gloves to make it impossible.

4. Consider LASIK.

LASIK doesn’t eliminate the need for eye protection, but it does simplify things. First, you’ll be able to protect your eyes with just one piece of eyewear instead of two. Second, sharper natural vision will allow you to navigate your surroundings and avoid hazards that could cause injury.

What to do:

The first step is to find out if you are a candidate for LASIK by taking Missouri Eye Institute’s 60-second LASIK Self-Test. Then, schedule a consultation to find out how your vision correction procedure can be tailored to your specific needs, vision goals and lifestyle.
Missouri Eye Institute has helped hundreds 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.


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