As the summer months approach, children look forward to a break from school and months of sports and outdoor activities. With sports such as baseball, soccer and others getting into full swing, parents’ thoughts move toward possible sports injuries.
However, parents often only focus on the usual injuries – sprains, strains and broken bones. It’s easy to forget the impact sports injuries can have on the health of their children’s eyes. Each year, more than 40,000 athletes, including children, suffer from an eye injury, and in fact, eye injuries are one of the leading causes of visual impairment in children.
Sports-related eye injuries occur most frequently in baseball, basketball and racquet sports. However, all sports, including summer favorites like soccer and golf, can prove to be just as dangerous. Injuries that occur during these sports can include:
- Scratches on the cornea
- Inflamed irises
- Blood spilling into the eyes
- Traumatic cataracts
- Swollen retinas
- Fractures of the eye socket
While these injuries can be serious, the good news is 90 percent can be prevented by having children wear the correct protective eye guards. For baseball and softball, children should use batting helmets with polycarbonate safety face shields. Children should wear safety goggles for baseball and racquet sports, as well as soccer. If a child already wears glasses, it is absolutely necessary for them to have appropriate sports eyewear and safety protection.
Keep in mind that some children may choose to wear contacts instead of glasses. They can, and should, continue to wear them while playing sports. Depending on the sport, they may need to wear additional safety eyewear while engaged in the activity. This safety eyewear can include glasses, goggles or safety lenses in sunglasses, which are worn with contact lenses. These also can include safety prescription sunglasses, which can be beneficial for sports such as baseball, softball and tennis, in which children may have to play while facing the sun. Safety sunglasses will not only provide added protection from UV rays, they will allow your child to see clearly and protect their eyes in the event of an impact. As always, your child’s medical optometrist will best be able to help you decide what will work best for your child.
Many parents may only consider protective eyewear if their child already wears glasses, but wearing the proper gear is essential for all children, even those who do not need prescription lenses. These goggles and other eye guards will help protect them from balls, racquets and other objects that could fly into the eye.
The type of sports eye guards should be determined by your child’s eye doctor before purchasing any eyewear. He or she will be able to provide guidance as to what will be the best method for protecting your child’s eyes and future vision.
When buying sports eye guards for your children:
- Ask your children’s eye doctor to fit them for prescription eye guards.
- If your child only sees well with one eye, he or she should always wear sports eye guards. It also is important to consult with an eye doctor on what sports your child can play safely.
- Do not buy sports eye guards without lenses.
- Make sure lenses either stay in place or pop outward in the event of an accident. Lenses that pop inward could damage your child’s eyes.
- Look into anti-fog coating or eye guards with extra ventilation to prevent fogging.
- Polycarbonate eye guards are the most resistant to impact, and they must be used with protectors that meet or exceed the requirements of the American Society for Testing and Materials. Each sport has a specific ASTM code, so make sure eye guards are right for your child’s particular sport.
- To prevent cutting the skin, sports eye guards should be padded along the brow and bridge of the nose.
- Always have your child try on the protector to determine if it is the right size and fit. An optician or an optical salesperson can help adjust the protector for comfort.
Often, teens and children do not like the look and feel of sports safety eyewear, especially if they need corrective lenses. Try to compromise with your child or teen by finding something that is comfortable, safe and aesthetically appealing. If they are more comfortable with the look of their gear, they will be more likely to wear it.
If your children are interested in a sport or already involved in sports, please have your child’s eyes examined and consult your optometrist today about getting proper sports eye guards or other prescription eyewear. These guards can make all the difference in preventing eye injuries.
Schedule an Appointment to have for an eye exam for sports safety and consultation!
Dr. Do Nguyen| Dr. Warren Johnson http://www.EyewearGallery.com 901-763-2020