Seven Tips to Prevent Sport Related Eye Injuries

Seven Tips to Prevent Sport Related Eye Injuries

By Dr. Juan P. Fernandez de Castro, Board Certified Ophthalmologist and Cataract Surgeon, Eye Centers of Florida

More than 40,000 patients visit the emergency room every year because of an eye injury. Most of us are aware of the need for proper eye safety at work, but some people don’t realize eye injuries can occur during recreational activities, too. The good news is the vast majority of sport related eye injuries are preventable through the use of appropriate eyewear.

Certain sports pose a higher risk for serious eye injuries, like basketball, baseball, racket sports and full contact sports (i.e. boxing, martial arts). Eye injuries while fishing deserve a separate category. Fish hooks penetrating the eye and a sinker or lure hitting the eye account for most of these accidents, and have now surpassed all other sports as the leading cause of eye injuries.

Follow these seven tips to prevent sport related eye injuries:

  1. It is important to emphasize that regular eyeglasses do not provide enough protection! The shape and materials used for your daily use glasses are not intended to protect you against any significant impact.
  2. Eye guards and protective eye wear should be labeled as ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) F803 approved. This ensures it has passed rigorous performance standards.
  3. Look for eyeglasses made out of polycarbonate or Trivex for racket sports, basketball and soccer. Using the appropriate material for the lenses will ensure their safety. They will be shatterproof, lightweight and will have good optical quality.
  4. Wear a helmet with a shatterproof shield while playing hockey, baseball and football. Not all helmets and facemasks are the same. Look for something that allows good visibility without compromising your safety.
  5. Invest in sport specific eyewear. Get fitted by a specialist who is familiar with both your sport’s needs and dispensing safety eyewear.
  6. The protective eyewear should be comfortable and well padded. If it is not, you will not use it. Again, look for a specialist who can fit you with the most appropriate eyewear.
  7. When fishing, remember to wear tight fitting, wrap-around type glasses. While most anglers like the polarized lenses to have a better visualization of the fish underwater, it is also important to look at glasses as safety equipment. Wear glasses not only while you are actively fishing but also while others around you are using any sharp objects.

If you injure your eye, you should always visit the emergency room or see an ophthalmologist to determine the severity of the injury. A properly trained doctor might be able to treat the problem before it affects your vision permanently.

If you do not want to wear glasses while practicing sports, discuss your options with your ophthalmologist. Some people are good candidates for contact lenses and others for more permanent solutions like laser surgery. Remember, you will still need to protect your eyes.

Raising awareness is the first step to prevent these unfortunate accidents that can change someone’s life in an instant. Always remember: Safety First!

In honor of Sport Eye Injury Awareness Month, Eye Centers of Florida is offering a free polycarbonate upgrade with the purchase of a complete pair of prescription eyewear. Polycarbonate makes your lenses thinner, lighter, and impact-resistant – perfect for athletes!