The month of April is Sports Eye Safety Month. Many popular sports have the potential for serious eye injury, like baseball and basketball. In 2019, nearly 30,000 people were treated for eye injuries related to sports activities. Using the right kind of eye protection while playing sports can help prevent serious eye injuries and even blindness.
Eye injuries that can be prevented with proper eye protection:
- Corneal abrasion – scratches on the cornea (clear front part of the eye)
- Inflamed iris – inflammation of the iris (colored part of the eye)
- Hyphema – blood in the clear part of the eye (between the cornea and iris)
- Cataract – clouding of the lens of the eye
- Detached Retina – when the retina (layer of the eye that acts like the film in the camera) detaches from the back of the eye
- Fracture of the eye socket – broken bone that surrounds the eye
Prevent Blindness recommends athletes wear activity-specific eye guards when participating in sports. Prescription glasses, sunglasses and even occupational safety glasses do not provide adequate protection. Prescription glasses should NEVER be worn as protective eyewear or underneath goggle type protective eyewear.
Sports-related Eye Injuries are Common
It’s important to know what kind of protective eyewear is appropriate for each activity. For sports use, polycarbonate lenses must be used with protectors that meet or exceed the requirements of the current sport-specific ASTM International (American Society for Testing and Materials), a global standards development organization. Polycarbonate lenses are the most impact resistant, thinner and lighter than plastic, shatterproof, and provide UV protection. Most sports have a specific ASTM standard which are directed to the specific risks likely to be encountered in that sport. Look for the appropriate ASTM standard on the product and/or its packaging before making a purchase. Consult your eye doctor or the ASTM website (https://www.astm.org/) to find the most current and appropriate ASTM standard for the sport you are playing.
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