Eye Safety in the World of Sports




Eye Safety in the World of Sports

By: Jonathan Reddell, O.D.


More than 31,000 people a year suffer eye injuries and almost all sports-related eye injuries can be prevented.  Whatever your game, whatever your age, you need to protect your eyes.  For all age groups, sports-related eye injuries occur most frequently in basketball, water sports and baseball/softball.  Eye injuries from any sport can include infection, corneal abrasions, blunt trauma, inflamed iris, fracture of the eye socket, swollen or detached retinas or even a traumatic cataract.  And in some cases, a significant eye injury can cause permanent vision loss.  Those who wear prescription glasses should ask their eyecare practitioner (ECP) to be fitted with prescription eye protection.

  • Monocular athletes (where only one eye has functional vision) should consult with an ECP to determine which sports are safe to participate in.  Monocular athletes should always wear sports eye protection to protect the better seeing eye.
  • Sports protective eyewear should be labeled as ASTM F803 approved.  Check the packaging to ensure that the eye protector selected has been tested for sports use.
  • Make sure the lenses either stay in place or pop outward in the event of an accident. Lenses that pop in against the eyes can be very dangerous.
  • Fogging of the lenses can be a problem.  Some types of protective eyewear are available with anti-fog coating.  Others have side vents for additional ventilation. Try on different types to determine which is most comfortable.
  • Sports eye protection should be padded or cushioned along the brow and bridge of the nose.  Padding will prevent the eye protection from cutting the skin.
  • Try on the eye protector to determine if it’s the right size before purchasing.  Adjust the strap and make sure it’s not too tight or too loose.
  • All athletes should get an eye exam from an eyecare professional.  An expert may be able to detect a vision problem and improve performance in addition to saving sight later in life.


All ocular injuries should be taken seriously and a visit to the eye doctor should be scheduled as soon as possible.  Injuries that involve being hit (blunt force) should be treated with ice to help with inflammation and a dilated eye exam needs to be performed to ensure there is no retinal detachment.  Superficial injuries like scratches or abrasions should NEVER be rinsed out with water or bandaged closed.  If there is something stuck in the eye, it is advised to leave it alone until a professional can perform a thorough examination and safely remove it. 


REMEMBER…The Family EyeCare Center always has a doctor on call after hours and on the weekends.  Please call 913 – 682 – 2929 and leave a message so the doctor can call you back to advise on the best way to handle the situation.


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