Lewis Gale Physicians February 14, 2018

According to Prevent Blindness America® over 25,000 people seek treatment for sports-related eye injuries every year. Almost all of these injuries can be prevented. Everyone should get into the habit of protecting their eyes, whether at work or at play. Unfortunately, many people do not think about wearing eye protection.

Parents, coaches and teachers can help encourage the use of appropriate eye safety wear and take the following steps to avoid sports eye injuries:

  • Wear proper safety goggles (lensed polycarbonate protectors) for racquet sports or basketball. To ensure that eyes are protected, it is important that any eye guard or sports protective eyewear is labeled as ASTM F803 approved. This eyewear is performance-tested to give the highest level of protection.
  • Use batting helmets with polycarbonate face shields for youth baseball.
  • Use helmets and face shields approved by the U.S. Amateur Hockey Association when playing hockey.
  • Know that regular glasses and sunglasses do not provide enough protection

Risks by Sport

According to the National Eye Institute (NEI), eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children in the United States. Some sports carry a greater risk than others, but ninety percent of all sports-related eye injuries can be prevented. Baseball is the leading cause of sports-related eye injury in children 14 and under and is considered high risk. Football carries a moderate risk. See the table below for the risk of eye injury in other sports, too.

High Risk Moderate Risk Low Risk
Baseball Football Bicycling
Basketball Golf Diving
Boxing Badminton Skiing
Hockey Soccer SWimming
Paintball Tennis Wrestling
Racquetball Fishing
Softball
Squash

What is the correct eye protection for each sport?

The three primary types of eye protection are safety glasses, safety goggles, and face shields. Ask an eye care professional or a reputable sports store for additional advice about protecting vision for specific sports.

Sport Eye Protection
Badminton Sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses
Baseball Polycarbonate face guard or other certified safe protection attached to the helmet for batting and base running; sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses for fielding
Basketball Sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses
Bicycling (LER)* Sturdy street-wear frames with polycarbonate or CR-39 lenses
Boxing None is available
Fencing Full-face cage
Field Hockey Goalie: full-face mask; all others: sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses
Football Polycarbonate shield on helmet
Full-contact martial arts Not allowed
Handball** Sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses
Ice Hockey Helmet and full-face protection
Lacrosse (male) Helmet and full-face protection required
Lacrosse (female) Should at least wear sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses and have option to wear helmet and full-face protection
Racquetball** Sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses
Soccer Sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses
Softball Polycarbonate face guard on a helmet for batting and base running; sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses for fielding
Squash** Sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses
Street hockey Sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses; goalie: full face cage §
Swimming and pool sports Swim goggles recommended
Tennis: doubles Sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses
Tennis: singles Sturdy street-wear frames with polycarbonate lenses
Track and field (LER)* Sturdy street-wear frames with polycarbonate or CR-39 lenses
Water polo Swim goggles with polycarbonate lenses
Wrestling None is available

* For sports in which face masks or helmets with eye protection are worn, functionally one-eyed athletes and those with previous eye trauma or surgery for whom their ophthalmologists recommend eye protection must also wear sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses to ensure protection.
† LER indicates low eye risk.
‡ Goggles without lenses are not effective.
§ A street hockey ball can penetrate into a molded goalie mask and injure an eye.
Source: National Eye Institute (NEI)

Sources:
Prevent Blindness American® www.preventblindness.org
National Eye Institute (NEI) https://nei.nih.gov/sports

If you need assistance in selecting the correct eye wear for your sport (or for life in general), Dr. Richard Johnson is available to help. To schedule an appointment, call the office at (540) 772-3480 or click the button to schedule an appointment online.

Book An Appointment Online with Dr. Richard Johnson

tags: eye-care , safety , sports