According to the National Eye Institute, eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children in the US, and most of these injuries are sports-related. The majority of these injuries are preventable with protective eyewear.
By now most of our kids are back to school and hitting the books. Many of them are also back in the swing of hitting the practice field as well if they are involved in sports. Each year, thousands of sports-related eye injuries occur in the United States. The American Optometric Association (AOA) urges even casual athletes to protect their sight-and that of teammates-by keeping street eyewear off the playing field and wearing proper protective eyewear instead. Conventional frames and lenses do not meet the minimum requirements for impact resistance in most sports, which can turn a small collision into a sight-threatening injury. Sports-protective eyewear is tested to meet rigid standards and some have been independently verified and received the AOA Seal of Acceptance.
Eye protection should be of major concern to all athletes, especially in certain high-risk sports. Thousands of children and adults unnecessarily suffer sports-related eye injuries each year. Every thirteen minutes an emergency room in the United States treats a sports related eye injury and nearly all could be prevented by using the proper protective eyewear. And, if you participate in sports, get an eye exam. It can detect whether you have vision problems, like nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism, which could diminish your performance and lead to physical injuries during sports.
Some cautionary sports vision statistics include:
Approximately 600,000 documented sports-related injuries are reported each year in the United States.
More than 42,000 sports-related eye injuries require emergency room attention.
An estimated 13,500 cases result in permanent loss of sight.
Approximately 72 percent of sports-related eye injuries occur in people younger than 25 years and approximately 43 percent occur in children younger than 15 years.
Sports vision goes beyond choosing the correct protective eyewear that protects and provides clear vision. Just like speed and strength, vision is an important component of how well you play your sport. And there is much more to vision than just seeing clearly. Your vision is composed of many interrelated skills. And, just as exercise and practice can increase your speed and strength, they also can improve your visual fitness and accuracy.
Because all sports have different visual demands, an optometrist with expertise in sports vision can assess your unique visual system and recommend the proper eyeglasses or contact lenses, or design a vision-therapy program to maximize your visual skills for a specific sport.
Sports with a moderate to high risk of eye injury include basketball, baseball, softball, cricket, lacrosse, field hockey, ice hockey, squash, racquetball, fencing, boxing, full-contact martial arts, air rifle, tennis, badminton, soccer, volleyball, water polo, football, fishing, golf and wrestling.
The most common sports vision concerns include:
- Protection: Athletes’ eyes need certified sports protective eyewear that will protect against injury and ultra-violet light.
- Correction: Spectacle wearers require sports protective eyewear that also will correct their vision, while contact-lens wearers may need a different lens than their everyday one. For example, skiers spend their time in cold, dry conditions and need a contact lens that will provide more moisture.
- Vision enhancement: Athletes often need help enhancing their binocularity or depth perception.
Doctors of optometry work with their patients to provide unique, advantaged eyewear solutions in order to protect vision and improve performance in athletics. I encourage you to visit The Family EyeCare Center to discuss options for vision protection, correction, and enhancement.