Yes, April has arrived and that means it’s time for outdoor spring sports in our Midwest, unpredictable weather. Maybe you have bought your daughter her new soccer shoes and shin guards or picked out the best batting helmet for your son. You’ve even loaded up the car with blankets, chairs and umbrellas. You seem to be all prepared, but are you?
Did you know that every 13 minutes, an emergency room in the U.S. treats someone for a sports-related injury and according to the National Eye Institute (NEI), eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children in America. Most of these injuries occur in school-age children while playing a sport and include painful corneal abrasions, blunt trauma and penetrating injuries, inflamed iris, facture of the eye socket, swollen or detached retinas, traumatic cataract and blood spilling into the eye’s anterior chamber or even permanent vision loss.
Fortunately, eye injuries such as these can be prevented through wearing proper eye protection. Oddly enough, most sports do not require them. This is why parents need to know the statistics and be proactive.
*The highest risk sports for eye injuries based on statistics are basketball, water sports, baseball and racquet sports. Among kids five to 14, baseball is the leading cause of sports related ocular injury while basketball is the leading cause for kids 15 and older.
Polycarbonate lenses are 10 times more impact resistant than other plastics and should be worn with protectors that meet or exceed the requirements of the American Society for Testing Materials.
*Eyesight is precious. Protect your child’s vision by following these guidelines:
- If your child wears prescription glasses, ask your eye doctor to fit your child for prescription protective sports eyewear
- Never wear regular eyeglasses while playing sports because they can shatter
- Monocular athletes (those with lost eye sight in one eye) should always wear sports eye protectors prescribed by an eye doctor
- For outdoor sports, choose eye protection that blocks harmful UV rays
- Test the eye protector to make sure it is the right size and adjust the strap to fit properly.
- Check the packaging to assure the eye protector has been tested for your child’s sport and is made of polycarbonate material.
- Lens fogging can be a problem. Some eye protectors are available with anti-fog coating while others have side vents for ventilation.