April is Sports Eye Safety Awareness Month

Posted 04/04/2016 | By HealthCorps

A national survey recently revealed that only 35% of respondents said they always wore protective eyewear when doing home repairs or maintenance and even fewer did so while playing sports. If you want to prevent eye injuries, then wearing protective eyewear is at the top of the list, especially when doing certain athletic or sports activities. Use of goggles or other protective options can reduce 90% of eye injuries.

Eye facts:

• Men are more likely to sustain an eye injury, compared to women.
• Eye injuries are actually less common on the job (factories, construction sites) and more common in the home.
• More than 40% of yearly eye injuries are related to sports activities or recreational activities
• Sun exposure is a significant risk factor for eye injury.
• Among all eye injuries reported in the eye injury Snapshot, more than 78% were not wearing eyewear at the time of injury. Of those who did report using eyewear, only 5.4% were wearing safety or sports glasses.

Eye health in sports and recreational activities

Tens of thousands of sports and recreation-related eye injuries occur yearly, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. The top sports associated with eye injuries are baseball, basketball and racquet sports. When it comes to serious and possibly blinding injuries, full contact martial arts and boxing, top the list. Since wearing eye wear is not feasible during a boxing match, thumb-less gloves have been offered as one possible solution.

Eye experts recommend that a protective helmet, special facemask, or wire shield be worn at all times (practice and formal play) during baseball, ice hockey and lacrosse. Special protective eyewear should also be used during basketball, racquet sports, soccer and field hockey. The eye wear should meet ASTM (American Society of Testing Materials) standards.

These recommendations are especially important when it comes to kids because the injuries they sustain can cause long term or lifetime impairment. Kids are also at high risk when they hang out at adult practice games and sports events, where a ball, bat or puck, can come flying at them. Be vigilant and take the necessary precautions to keep them injury free.

Eye health in certain leisure activities

Activities at home including home repair, yard work, cleaning and cooking all harbor an eye injury possibility. Just a bit of common sense can help to limit injuries:
• Always think about the possibility of flying debris and to be safe, use protective eye wear as a regular habit.
• Do not assume that regular eye glasses are “protective.”
• Start with the assumption that certain leisure sports like fishing have a “given eye injury risk factor.”
• Always have back up vision correction options like a spare pair of glasses or contact lenses when engaged in certain sports activities where they could be damaged.

Eye injury could mean concussion too

If you or your child gets hit with a ball, bat, hockey puck or hockey stick hard enough to sustain an eye injury, there is also a risk of having sustained a concussion. Make sure someone experienced (coach or health professional) performs a reliable and quick screening test for a concussion, and an on-the-field visual test.

Teens can be very resistant to using protective gear, believing that they are smart enough and capable enough to avoid injury. Appeal to their sensibilities, suggesting that an injury can be severe and permanent and impact future sports playtime and enjoyment or ruin their chances for a sports scholarship. Involve your pediatrician or adolescent medicine doctor in the discussion if there is persistent resistance to protective gear.
Source: American Academy of Opthalmology

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