The team at Virginia Eye Consultants is committed to educating and empowering patients to make smart choices for their eye health. April is National Sports Eye Safety Month and our ophthalmic experts would like to share some information about sports eye safety and some tips to prevent eye injuries while playing sports.
How Often Do Sports-Related Eye Injuries Occur?
More people are seeking out group activities and competitive sports to stay fit. The increased trend in recreational sports teams for adults is a positive one, but even casual players and weekend warriors need to think about sports eye safety. Each year in the U.S. approximately 100,000 sports-related eye injuries occur and more than 13,000 people suffer vision loss from eye injuries incurred while playing sports. The National Eye Institute estimates that a sports-related eye injury is treated every 13 minutes across emergency rooms in the U.S. The good news is that experts believe that 90% of eye injuries can be prevented with proper protective gear.
What Are The Most Common Sports Eye Injuries?
Sports that are commonly associated with eye injuries include:
- Ice Hockey
The types of eye injuries that occur most often are:
- Blunt Injuries occur from a sudden impact with an object such as a ball. This type of injury often results in a black eye, but can also cause broken orbital bones and vision loss.
- Corneal Abrasions are a result of something scraping the surface of the eye. These injuries often heal on their own, but can be very painful and should be assessed by a doctor.
- Penetrating Injuries occur when an object pierces the eye. This type of trauma, which can happen when regular glasses break during sports play, can be detrimental to vision. A penetrating eye injury should be treated as an emergency.
Tips To Keep Eyes Safe During Sports
Protective Eyewear is fundamental to preventing eye injury. Here are some tips to choose the correct gear and other steps you can take to avoid eye injury:
- Have an annual eye exam. Pre-existing eye conditions can increase the risk of some eye injuries.
- Choose the right protective gear. Only use eyewear that is labeled ASTM approved.
- Get prescription sports eyewear. Regular eyeglasses are not safe for sports play. If you wear prescription glasses, ask your eye doctor to fit you for impact resistant eyeguards.
- Don’t rely on team regulations. Even if you play in an official league, protective eyewear may not be required, but that does not mean you shouldn’t wear it! Injuries can happen during casual pick-up games, so make eye protection a habit.
What Do I Do If A Sports-Related Eye Injury Occurs?
We hope that you have nothing but fun and fitness on the field or court, but here are some steps to take if injuries do occur:
- Cover the eye without applying pressure. A well stocked first aid kit will contain a rigid shield for this purpose, but something like the bottom half of a paper cup can be used.
- Never try to remove an object that is stuck in the eye.
- Seek immediate medical treatment from your eye doctor or at an emergency room.
- Don’t try to “tough it out” and keep playing. An eye injury can impair vision and lead to more accidents.
- If you’ve been treated for an eye injury, follow your doctor’s advice and don’t resume activities before you are cleared to do so.
The team of doctors at Virginia Eye Consultants have been improving vision in our community for over 55 years. We care about your eye health. Feel free to share this important sports eye safety information with your teammates or workout buddies. Contact us with any questions.