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|
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.
|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|
|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)
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.