April is Sports Eye Safety Month

Apr 12, 2021

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What do baseball, basketball and paintball have in common? Besides being fun activities on a warm spring day, these sports account for almost half of all trips to the emergency room for eye injury treatment. New research reveals that around 30,000 people in the U.S. go to the ER each year for sports-related eye injuries—and most of these are children 18 years old or younger.

The good news is that 90 percent of serious eye injuries can be prevented. Allied Eye and the American Academy of Ophthalmologists (AAO) urge coaches, athletes and parents to take steps to guard against sports-related eye injuries. What’s the best way to keep your and your family’s eyes safe? Keep reading!

Which sports and gear cause the most eye injuries?

Nearly every sport carries some risk of eye injury, but some are higher-risk than others. According to the AAO, the leading causes of sports-related eye injuries are, in order:

  1. Basketball
  2. Baseball
  3. Softball
  4. Airsoft rifles
  5. Pellet guns
  6. Racquetball
  7. Hockey

Combat sports, such as full-contact martial arts and boxing, carry a high risk of serious, blinding eye injuries. Unfortunately, many athletes participate in these and other high-impact sports with little awareness of the eye risks involved.

What are the most common sports-related eye injuries?

Sports-related eye injuries range from minor bruises to serious, vision-threatening damage. Eye injuries that can happen while participating in sports include:

  • Eyelid bruises (black eye)
  • Corneal abrasions
  • Bleeding in the eye
  • Retinal detachment
  • Orbital fractures

How to Protect Your Eyes While Playing Sports

There is one simple step you can take to prevent most sports-related eye injuries: wear eye protection that meets your sport’s safety requirements. Ordinary eyeglasses or sunglasses do not provide adequate protection against injuries resulting from blows or debris. In fact, your regular glasses can cause even more eye injuries if they break or shatter on impact.

Sports eye protection standards are usually set by the sport’s governing body and/or the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Look for ASTM-certified visors, face guards and glasses designed specifically for your sport. Polycarbonate lenses are a type of shatterproof plastic and are an ideal type of eye protection when playing basketball, racquet sports, soccer and field hockey.

Eye protection is especially vital if you already have vision loss in one eye. Ask your ophthalmologist for advice on whether you should be participating in high-impact sports. If the answer is “yes,” carefully follow his or her eye protection recommendations.

Note that spectators should also be aware of risks while attending sporting events. Balls, bats, flying objects and even players can end up in the stands at any moment.

What to do if an Eye Injury Occurs

Even if an eye injury appears minor, call your ophthalmologist or go to the emergency room immediately. Some serious problems may not be evident at first and delaying medical attention can result in permanent vision loss.

Although you should never attempt to treat a serious eye injury yourself, the AOO has provided helpful information on recognizing and treating eye injuries. Avoid the following actions, as they can make an eye injury worse.

Do not:

  • Rub your eye.
  • Apply pressure—even light pressure—to an injured eye.
  • Attempt to remove foreign objects stuck in the eye or eye socket.
  • Apply eye drops or any other medication.
  • Take aspirin, ibuprofen or any anti-inflammatory drug, as these may increase bleeding.

As always, Allied Eye is here for all your eye exam needs. Call or text us today at (423) 855-8522 to make an appointment with Dr. Matzkin or Dr. Herron. Concerned about COVID? Please read our COVID-19 protocol to learn more about our proactive approach to keeping you safe!