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Protective Eye Wear Could Prevent 40,000 Injuries Each Year

03/29/2012   11:36:47 AM

Baseball, Basketball and Racquet Sports Most Common Culprits, According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology

SAN FRANCISCO—Playing sports is good for your health, but for too many athletes, a game also can lead to a health disaster when an eye injury damages their vision. Every year, more than 40,000 Americans injure their eyes during sports and recreational activities such as baseball, basketball and tennis. Unfortunately, approximately one-third of those eye-injury victims are school-aged children.[i]

April is Sports Eye Safety Month, and the American Academy of Ophthalmology, through its EyeSmart® program, reminds the public that the only way to prevent a sports-related eye injury is for athletes to wear appropriate, sport-specific protective eyewear properly fitted by an eye care professional.[ii]

Sports-related eye injuries range from abrasions of the cornea and bruises of the lids to internal eye injuries, such as retinal detachments and internal bleeding. The good news is, almost all sports-related eye injuries can be prevented using appropriate protective eye wear.[iii]

“As an ophthalmologist, I strongly encourage all athletes to use the appropriate protective eyewear for their sports because eye injuries can be devastating,” said Aaron Weingeist, MD, a clinical correspondent for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “In fact, some athletes suffer permanent vision loss and blindness from sports-related injuries.”

Lenses made from polycarbonate materials provide the highest level of protection; they can withstand the impact of a ball or other projectile traveling at 90 miles per hour. Proper eye protection is widely available for a variety of sports including hockey, football, lacrosse, and water polo, as well as racquetball, soccer and downhill skiing. Always choose eye protection that has been tested to meet the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards.

“Unfortunately, most youth sporting leagues don’t require children to wear eye protection[iv],” said Dr. Weingeist. “That’s why we’re trying to raise awareness, and arming parents and athletes with the information they need to take care of their eyes during sports.”

Even a seemingly light blow can cause a serious eye injury. If a black eye, pain or visual problem occurs after a blow, contact an ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) or seek emergency medical help immediately.

About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons — Eye M.D.s — with more than 30,000 members worldwide. Eye health care is provided by the three "O's" – ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians. It is the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., who can treat it all: eye diseases, infections and injuries, and perform eye surgery. For more information, visit www.aao.org.

About EyeSmart
The American Academy of Ophthalmology's EyeSmart® program educates the public about the importance of eye health and empowers them to preserve their healthy vision. EyeSmart provides the most trustworthy and medically accurate information about eye diseases, conditions and injuries. OjosSanos™ is the Spanish-language version of the program. Visit www.geteyesmart.org or www.ojossanos.org to learn more.


Sources

[i] National Association for Sports and Physical Education. Eye Safety at a Glance: Protecting Your Child’s Vision in Sports. Accessed from: http://www.aahperd.org/naspe/publications/teachingTools/upload/Eye-Safety-At-a-Glance-Protecting-Your-Child-s-Vision-in-Sports.pdf

[ii] American Academy of Ophthalmology. Eye Health in Sports and Recreation. Accessed from: http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/living/sports.cfm

[iii] National Eye Institute. About Sports Eye Injury and Protective Eyewear. Accessed from: http://www.nei.nih.gov/sports/

[iv] National Association for Sports and Physical Education. Eye Safety at a Glance: Protecting Your Child’s Vision in Sports. Accessed from: http://www.aahperd.org/naspe/publications/teachingTools/upload/Eye-Safety-At-a-Glance-Protecting-Your-Child-s-Vision-in-Sports.pdf

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