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Sports Eye Safety Month

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Did you know that 90% of sports eye injuries are avoidable? Take the following steps to avoid them.

Most fall sports are well underway by the end of August. That means September is the perfect opportunity to ensure that we are well-equipped with sports safety glasses. After all, September is Sports Eye Safety Awareness Month, dedicated to educating athletes on how to keep eyes healthy for life. Prevent Blindness America reports that hospital emergency rooms treat more than 40,000 eye injuries every year that are sports-related. Eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children in the United States, and most of these injuries are sports related. Even non-contact sports such as badminton can present inherent dangers to the eyes. The good news is that almost all of these injuries can be prevented. Whatever your game, whatever your age, you need to protect your eyes!

    • Know that regular glasses don't provide enough protection. Prescription eyeglasses, sunglasses and even on-the-job industrial safety glasses typically do not provide adequate protection for sports use.
    • Wear proper safety goggles (lensed polycarbonate protectors) for racquet sports or basketball. In order to be assured your eyes are protected, it’s important that any eye guard or sports protective eyewear are labeled as ASTM F803 approved. This eyewear is performance-tested to give you the highest levels of protection. Fortunately, nowadays coaches, parents and players realize that wearing protective eyewear for sports pays off in several ways. The risk of eye damage is reduced by up to 90%, and the player's performance is enhanced by the ability to see better.

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  • Know the features to look for in protective sports eyewear. Sports goggles are made in a variety of shapes and sizes. Polycarbonate is the material of choice for sports lenses, but the eyewear frame plays an important role, too. Different sports have different safety requirements, which has led to the development of sport-specific frames. Most sports frames can accommodate both prescription and nonprescription lenses. Sports frames are constructed of highly impact-resistant plastic or polycarbonate. Some sports styles are contoured, wrapping slightly around the face. This type of goggle works well for biking, hang-gliding and sailing. Contact lens wearers especially benefit from the wraparound style, as it helps keep out wind and dust.
  • Fit considerations for children: Review the fit of your child's sports goggles each year to ensure that they are still providing proper protection. Make sure the padding inside the sides of the goggle rests flush with the face and the eyes are centered both horizontally and vertically in the lens area. Some growing room is acceptable, and sports goggles are made to be somewhat flexible in their width adjustment. But if the frames are too large and don't fit properly, the amount of protection they provide will be compromised. It's a risk not worth taking. The same goes for frames that are too small--allowing a child to wear goggles that he or she has outgrown can not only be uncomfortable (tempting the child to leave them off) but can also obstruct peripheral vision--leading to poor performance and a greater risk of being hit by a ball or other unseen object from one side or the other.

Some tips from All About Vision to find the right pair of sports eye guards for you:

  • If you wear prescription glasses, ask your eye doctor to fit you for prescription eyeguards. If you're a monocular athlete (a person with only one eye that sees well), ask your eye doctor what sports you can safely participate in. Monocular athletes should always wear sports eyeguards.
  • In order to be assured that your eyes are protected, it is important that any eye guard or sports protective eyewear be labeled as ASTM F803 approved. This eyewear is performance tested to give you the highest levels of protection.
  • Don't buy sports eyeguards without lenses. Only "lenses" protectors are recommended for sports use. Make sure the lenses either stay in place or pop outward in the event of an accident. Lenses that pop in against your eyes can be very dangerous.
  • Fogging of the lenses can be a problem when you're active. Some eye guards are available with anti-fog coating. Others have side vents for additional ventilation. Try on different types to determine which is most comfortable for you.
  • Check the packaging to see if the eye protector you select has been tested for sports use. Also, check to see that the eye protector is made of polycarbonate material.
  • Sports eyeguards should be padded or cushioned along the brow and bridge of the nose to prevent the eye guards from cutting your skin.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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