Eye injuries are a leading cause of blindness in children. Every 13 minutes, an emergency room in the US treats a sports related eye injury—that is over 42,00 patients per year. One third of all sports eye related injuries involve children. Most eye injuries occur among kids 11-14 years old. About 13,500 of sports-related eye injuries result in permanent loss of vision.
Children are always playing, and having fun, not realizing that organized sports, a pickup basketball game in the driveway, or even just riding a horse or bicycle should be done wearing a good pair of sports goggles. Sports goggles provide the ultimate protection against foreign objects, flying body parts, and airborne items like balls, bats, clubs and rackets, that could permanently damage your eyes.
Sports are stratified into 3 risk categories: High, moderate and low. High risk sports include baseball, softball, ice and street hockey, racquet sports, fencing, lacrosse, paintball and boxing. Batted baseballs are 3.5 times more likely to cause eye damage than a pitched ball, but unfortunately, most players do not use sports goggles when at bat. Hockey face protectors have saved thousands of teeth, bones and eyes, as well as nearly $10 million each year. One in eighteen college athletes will sustain an eye injury, and this rises to 1 in 10 for basketball players.
The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has established protective eyewear standards for each sport. However, many youth and children’s teams don’t require eye protection, so parents must insist that their children wear sports goggles when they play. Parents must also remember to set a good example by wearing eye protection themselves.
Ninety percent of sports-related eye injuries can be prevented with proper sports goggles. Prevention is better than the cure! While surgery is an option in the most extreme cases, it does not always restore vision, and can be avoided by taking the necessary steps to protect your child’s sight before an injury occurs. Regular eye exams are the first step. Getting your child the proper sports goggles, before they start playing, is the key to preventing potentially devastating eye injuries.
To stay abreast of the latest news on protecting you and your children’s eyes, and to learn more about proper eyewear, sports goggles, and how to protect your child’s eye, please make an appointment with Dr. Cooper or her staff at 650-259-0300.