Did you know that 90% of all sports eye injuries are preventable? Yet most youth or adult sports leagues don’t require protective eyewear. This leaves it up to athletes, parents and coaches to ensure that proper measures are taken to keep their eyes safe during athletic play.
Protective eyewear includes sports or safety glasses or goggles (similar to the brand name Rec Specs), face shields, facemasks and eye guards. Regular dress wear prescription eyeglasses or sunglasses may not fully protect the eyes. Depending on the type of frames or lenses, they can sometimes cause greater injury if impact causes the frames or lenses to become shattered or broken. Whether you need a prescription or not, there are a number of options to protect your eyes including wearing contact lenses under safety eyewear, purchasing prescription safety eyewear or wearing fit over safety goggles over your regular prescription glasses.
What is different about Safety Eyewear?
Protective lenses are made of impact resistant materials such as polycarbonate or trivex plastics, which are much stronger than other types of plastic used to make regular glasses lenses. Polycarbonate has a long history of safety use in adults and children and Trivex is a newer plastic that is lighter than polycarbonate and offers better vision due to better optics. Here's a fun fact. Both polycarbonate and Trivex lens material have built-in ultraviolet (UV) blocking technology to protect your eyes from sun damage.
Sports glasses frames are also made from strong, break-resistant materials such as polycarbonate plastic. These frames are larger than traditional glasses to protect the eye socket and block dust, sunlight and other elements from entering around the sides or top of the glasses. Sports glasses and goggles usually incorporate interior padding to cushion any impact between the frame and the face. There is usually special padding around the nose for increased comfort, cushioning, and to prevent them from sliding on the face.
Some sport glasses are difficult to fit under helmets like in football and lacrosse. These athletes needing sports goggles should bring in their helmets or head gear to ensure they fit properly. We've come a long way since the days of the "Chris Sabo" goggles (former Cincinnati Reds third baseman). The newer style of sports goggles can often can enhance sports performance with improved optics and wrap around frames that offer improved peripheral vision.
Common Sports Eye Injuries
Eye injuries can occur in all sports, especially baseball, basketball, racquetball, tennis, badminton, and other sports. Did you know that the most common sport for an eye injury is basketball? Here are some examples of sports related eye injuries.
- Scratched eye or corneal abrasion - This is when the eye is poked, scratched or rubbed. Corneal abrasions can are usually painful. They can cause redness and light sensitivity. For a severe corneal abrasion, the eye will usually be watery and hard to open without pain. Scratched eyes should be treated immediately by a doctor to prevent serious infection or scarring that can lead to severely reduced vision or blindness.
- Blunt force trauma/swelling - is when an object, such as a ball, an elbow, or even the ground impacts the eye causing swelling or bleeding such as a black eye (in which the eyelids bruise and swell) or a subconjunctival hemorrhage (bleeding from a blood vessel between the white of the eye and the clear conjunctiva). Black eyes may not appear serious but they should be checked out by a doctor to make sure there is no bleeding inside the eye.
- Traumatic iritis - an inflammation that occurs following an eye injury such as a blunt trauma that affects the color part of the eye that surrounds the pupil. The inflammation should be treated to ensure there is no permanent vision loss. Symptoms of iritis include pain, decreased vision, light sensitivity, and redness of the eye.
- Penetrating injury - injuries that occur when a foreign object enters the eye, causing the eye to rupture, can cause severe damage, swelling and bleeding. This is a medical emergency and should be treated immediately.
Most of these injuries can be prevented simply by wearing protective eyewear. An athlete's vision is essential for performing their best. Don't put your performance at risk by failing to protect your eyes during sports.