Sports-Related Eye Safety

As the days get longer and we spend more time playing outside, there are some sporting safety tips we should consider:

  • An estimated 40,000 sports eye injuries occur every year. The majority of victims are children, too many of whom suffer permanent visual impairment.
  • For young athletes, baseball and basketball account for the largest number of injuries.
  • Little League pitchers may throw the ball up to 70 mph - fast enough to break bones and do serious damage to the eye.
  • In basketball, you can't prevent contact with flying elbows and fingers, but the serious eye injuries they can cause can be prevented by wearing appropriate protective eyewear.
  • Many other popular sports, such as tennis, soccer, football, golf, water sports and hockey, also put unprotected players at risk for serious eye injury.

Studies have shown that by wearing the right protective eyewear more than 90 percent of eye injuries can be prevented.

  • Specific eyewear is available for just about all activities.
  • Most protective eyewear, including goggles, face shields and guards should be made of polycarbonate plastic.
  • Protective eyewear must be properly fitted by an eye care professional.
  • Regular street glasses and contacts do not offer enough protection for sports.

It's up to parents to ensure their children wear eye protection when they play sports.

  • Many children's sports leagues, schools and teams don't require children to wear eye protection. Parents must insist that children wear eye protection every time they play and set a good example by wearing eye protection themselves whenever they play.
  • One-eyed athletes need to be especially careful by wearing eye protection at all times during sport and recreational activities.
  • There's no evidence that wearing eye protection hampers athletic performance.
  • It's a fact! If you play sports you can get hurt.

Article written by Alan Margolis, M.D., Sky Ridge Medical Center, 303-797-1150