Playing safe: April is Sports Eye Safety Month



 

Resource post for April

boy_in_safety_glassesSports are the leading cause of eye injuries in children, especially team sports such as football, basketball, tennis, hockey to name a few. I have two 6-year old boys who are just into almost all sports. And their latest passion, now that spring time is here, is street hockey on roller blades. When we bought the blades for them last year, the set included protective gear such as knee, elbow and hand pads. Their bicycle helmets served for the blades as well. But what about eye protection? I never really thought they need it until I read about this sports-related eye safety campaign.

April has been designated as the Sports Eye Safety Month .The current statistics from Unite for Sight says that:

  1. Over 100,000 cases of sports-related eye injuries occur every year in the North America alone, incurring more than $175 million in health care costs.
  2. From 1988 to 2000, 31% of serious eye injuries were due to blunt trauma, the kind that is commonly observed in relation to sports. This is more than the 18% eye injuries caused by vehicular accidents.
  3. Baseball and basketball cause the most common sports-related injuries. These are followed by racket sports (e.g. tennis, badminton) and water sports.
  4. 90% of all eye injuries are preventable.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and eye doctors urge that athletes, professional or amateur, should wear protective eyewear when in engaging in sports. Sometimes it takes a single blow to damage an eye. But it is a damage that has long-lasting and devastating repercussions. It could mean disability and impairment. It would mean the end of a successful sports career, or nipping in the bud strong potential. It would mean a major life change and a lower quality of life. Unfortunately, most sporting leagues do not make the use of protective eye gear mandatory. This is sad because most cases of eye injuries could have been prevented with the appropriate eye protection.

What are the most common sports-related eye injuries?

smileys-eye-glassesThe majority of injuries incurred during sports are caused by blunt trauma, e.g. impact with a blunt object, according to Dr. Carolyn Wu, ophthalmologist. The severity of the injury would depend on the object hitting the eye – its size, speed and hardness. Blunt trauma result to a simple black eye to more serious damage such as:

  • Internal bleeding
  • Orbital floor fractures
  • Inflammation
  • Eyeball rupture
  • Retinal detachment
  • Damage to the optic nerve

According this AAO press release

Children can end up with injuries ranging from abrasions of the cornea and bruises of the lids to internal eye injuries such as retinal detachments and internal bleeding. Unfortunately, some of these athletes end up with permanent vision loss and blindness.

Penetrating trauma, e.g. injuries through contact with sharp or penetrating objects are rare in sports but just as dangerous. The unfortunate thing is that these types of injuries are usually caused when inappropriate eye wear breaks. Most people wearing glasses think that normal, every day glasses are ample protection against sports-related injuries. In fact, these eyewear present hazards when they break.

How do we protect our children sports-related eye injuries?eye-protection

According to Dr. Yu,

The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has developed standards for protective eyewear to be worn in various sports. Each sport has a specific type of recommended protective eyewear, but all sports goggles should be made with polycarbonate lenses. Polycarbonate is a high-impact resistant plastic that offers ultraviolet protection and can be made in prescription or non-prescription lenses. These lenses are 10 times more impact resistant than other plastics. In comparison, regular eyeglasses have only 5 percent of the impact resistance of polycarbonate lenses. Your eye doctor can recommend the eyewear that is appropriate for your sport.

According to Unite for Sight, there are 4 basic types of eyewear but only 2 of these are appropriate for sports.

Not appropriate as sports protective eyewear are eyeglasses, sunglasses, as well as occupational safety protective glasses.

Mind you, the Sports Safety Awareness campaign is not meant to scare off people from doing sports. Children need movement and exercise to keep them healthy. Doing sports in young years have long-term benefits. Yes, doing sports can also hurt – but that’s what protection gear is for. It is important that the campaign is supported from all sectors – school officials, sports teachers and coaches, as well as parents so that we can convince children and teenagers to wear the recommended protective eyewear.

The AAO goes on to prits-in-your-courtaise professional athletes who serve as role models in promoting the use of eye protection in sports. Examples are NBA All-Star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and NFL Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson.

In conclusion, the AAO wants to spread this take home message: “Play hard…play safe… Sports eye protection doesn’t hinder performance, it protects eyes and careers.”

 Photo credit: stock.xchng; Unite for Sight CD cover

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Comments

  1. I know what you mean, I got my back injured last year while playing basketball. To make things worse it was just hours before my wife’s birthday party, so you get the big picture.

    Almost a year later I’m just getting out of the pain through a lot of targeted exercises, so people, be careful!

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