How to Prevent and Treat Sports Eye Injuries


Each year in the U.S., there are approximately 30,000 sports-related eye injuries that are treated in emergency rooms. Surprisingly, 90% of the serious eye injuries could be prevented by wearing the appropriate protective eyewear.

What you should know about sports eye injuries

April is sports eye injury awareness month and the perfect time to help you understand the risks and how to prevent sports-related eye injuries.

So, what should you know?

Every sports activity has their own level of risk for an eye injury. Sports activities that involve projectiles or sharp objects increase the risk of eye injuries. Make sure you’re using the right kind of eye protection for each activity. Regular eyeglasses do not offer proper eye protection and in some cases can make the injury even worse if the glass should shatter.

What sports are more prone to eye injuries?

Eye injuries occur in almost all sports, but some have higher risks than others. A recent study found that basketball was the leading cause of sports-related eye injuries in the United States. Other sports that followed this lead were baseball, softball, racquetball, hockey and game activities with airsoft rifles and pellet guns.

Protective sports glasses with polycarbonate lenses, or shatterproof plastic, should be worn for sports such as basketball, racquet sports, soccer and field hockey. Always choose eye protectors that have been tested to meet the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards or that pass the CSA racquet sports standard.

Boxing and full-contact martial arts pose an extremely high risk of serious and even blinding injuries. There is no satisfactory eye protection for boxing, although thumbless gloves may reduce the number of boxing eye injuries.

Ice hockey and men’s lacrosse, require young athletes to wear a helmet with a polycarbonate face mask or wire shield. Hockey face masks should be approved by the Hockey Equipment Certification Council or the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).

Spectator eye safety 

Protecting your eyes while at a sporting event can be just as important. Balls, bats and players can end up in the stands at any time. Keep your eyes on the game and watch out for foul balls and flying objects.

Treating a sports eye injury 

If you have an eye injury, go to the emergency room immediately, even if the injury appears minor. Delaying medical attention can result in permanent vision loss or blindness.

For the complete article, visit the American Academy of Ophthalmology website.