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Sports Safety Focusing Enough on the Eyes?

Many sports require protective gear for a player to be eligible to participate. Everything from helmets to shin guards to padding is offered to cover most of the body in an effort to keep a player safe. Unfortunately, protective eyewear is not as common a consideration when evaluating the vulnerability of potential sports injuries. Approximately 40,000 sports-related eye injuries occur every year with many of them resulting in permanent vision loss. The National Eye Institute estimates nearly 100,000 doctor visits per year are attributed to sports-related eye injuries, the primary cause of childhood blindness. Up to 90% of sports-related injuries are preventable if an athlete simply wears the correct protective eyewear. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends wearing protective eyewear for any sport where eye injuries may occur even if a player does not wear prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses. Protective eyewear has no impediment on a player’s sight and may improve performance as they are assured of a significantly reduced risk of a serious eye injury.

Good eye health is essential for athletes but is sports safety focusing enough on the eyes? Strong eyesight improves athletic performance and is also an important safety factor. Athletes need adequate visual acuity, reflexes and hand-eye coordination to not only play well but to reduce the risk of injury. Taking a few precautionary steps will help protect and enhance vision when playing sports. These include annual visits with an eye doctor, reducing glare from lights or the sun, considering contact lenses over eyeglasses, choosing lenses that are lightweight and impact resistant, alleviating dry eyes by keeping the eyes moistened with eye drops, eye exercises that can fine tune visual skills that improve tracking and focusing, treating eye injuries no matter how minor with immediate care and wearing eye protection. Wearing shatter-proof, polycarbonate goggles that completely cover the eyes are the easiest and most effective way to prevent eye injuries.

Sports with the highest risk of eye injury include basketball, boxing, wrestling, martial arts, fencing, hockey, baseball, softball, squash, shooting, archery and water sports. Sports with moderate risk of eye injury include golf, soccer, tennis, gymnastics and skiing. Guard against injury with protective headgear, face shields and eyewear. When in doubt, consult with your ophthalmologist at Associated Retina Consultants to find the safest and most effective solution to err on the side of caution for the clarity and preservation of your vision while playing sports. For more information on sports safety for the eyes, call 602-242-4928 or visit WEBSITE.

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