Proper eye protection can limit injuries by 90 percent
Physicians at Oregon Health & Science University's Casey Eye Institute believe most of the 42,000 annual sports-related eye injuries could be prevented through the use of simple eye protection. Eye injuries are a major cause of blindness in youngsters. Many of these injuries are directly related to sports activity.
Specifically, baseball and basketball account for the highest incidence of injuries in youth. Baseball is a major cause of eye injuries in children between the ages of 5 and 14. For older athletes, basketball injuries are most common in 15- to 24-year-olds. Football, hockey, lacrosse, racquet sports and soccer players also need eye protection.
Tom Green, a 17-year-old Southridge High School senior, recognizes the importance of proper eye protection. Last April while playing lacrosse, he fractured his eye socket. The incident caused blurry vision and required surgery at Casey Eye Institute. While his vision has improved greatly since his injury, occasionally Tom suffers from double vision.
"Six months after the injury, my eyesight is much better," said Tom. "However, I'm planning to wear additional eye protection when lacrosse season begins again in the spring."
Casey physicians have the following recommendations for avoiding sports-related eye injuries:
If your child participates in any of the previously mentioned high risk sports, protective eyewear made of polycarbonate plastic should be worn at all times.
For baseball, hockey and lacrosse players, a helmet with facemask or wire shield is suggested.
For basketball, racquet sports and soccer, sports goggles with side shields are needed.
For football, an eye shield attached to the helmet face mask can prevent opponents' fingers from entering the helmet and causing eye injuries.
Regular street eyewear and even industrial safety eye gear do not offer adequate sports protection.
Eye gear must be recommended for your child's particular activity. Your physician is also an excellent source of information on proper protective gear.
"It's common for parents to insist on bike helmets, skating protection and catcher's masks for their children. However, most are unaware of the special need for eye protection in sports," said Casey ophthalmologist John Ng, M.D. "Parents of children who play high risk sports should also insist on protective eye wear during every game and practice. Doing so could save your child's vision."