A recent study shows that playing basketball has the highest risk for eye injuries for adults. For children 13 years old and younger, baseball is the number one sport causing eye injuries. Many of us take our vision for granted and while most sports require specific headgear, knee and shoulder pads, the eyes for many athletics are left unprotected.
Each month, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recognizes one or more observances dedicated to raising awareness about important eye health topics. This month, the Academy observes Sports Eye Safety Month. Dr. Stewart Shofner, father of four very active children who participate in a variety of sports (volleyball to rugby) strongly encourages others to understand the importance of eye safety and why some believe eye protection for athletes should be mandatory.
Eye protection isn’t required for most professional athletes, but some players are opting to wear safety glasses as a precaution. Each year, an estimated 100,000 people are hurt by sports-related eye injuries. About 13,500 of these injuries result in permanent vision loss…according to National Eye Institute (NEI), ninety percent could have been prevented with the use of protective eyewear.
Dr. Shofner suggests that parents, coaches, teachers and childcare staff must insist that children wear safety glasses or goggles whenever they play. Protective eyewear includes safety glasses, goggles, safety shields and eye guards. This protective eyewear is made of ultra-strong polycarbonate and is 10 times more impact resistant than other plastics. Ensure the eyewear has been tested to meet the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards. Additionally, most protective eyewear can be made to match prescription glasses; else safety goggles should be worn over them.
You can participate in the poll “Should Professional Athletes Have to Wear Eye Protection” at aao.org. Currently, close to 40% voted “Maybe it should be encouraged, but not required.” Perhaps your feedback could make a difference as 32% believe “Yes, all athletes, always.”
When an eye injury does occur, Dr. Shofner recommends an ophthalmologist or other medical doctor examine the eye as soon as possible, even if the injury seems minor. Delaying medical attention can cause the damaged areas to worsen and could result in permanent vision loss or blindness. Additionally, it is imperative to not treat a serious eye injury yourself. Dr. Shofner has treated several patients that have a sports related eye injury. If you have experienced an eye injury or sudden change of vision, contact Shofner Vision Center to schedule an appointment. Visit us online or call (615) 340-4733 today.