Avoid Eye Injuries During Sports Competitions

child eye safety

What do tennis star John McEnroe, Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich, Canadian Olympic gold-medal snowboarding champion Ross Rebagliati, skateboarding superstar Mike Fraser and surfing sensation Tom Curran all have in common? They all wear protective sports eyewear to avoid eye injuries and maximize their performance.

Every day Americans sustain injuries to their eyes, at home, on the job, or during sports activities. Of the 1.6 to 2.4 million individuals who experience eye injuries, an estimated 40,000 will be legally blind in the injured eye. Nearly 90 percent of the injuries are preventable if individuals use proper safety eyewear and take precautions to avoid possible unsafe situations.

Consider these statistics from the National Eye Institute:

  • Every 13 minutes, an emergency room in the U.S. treats a sports-related eye injury
  • More than 100,000 eye injuries in the United States occur each year during sports or recreational activities
  • Basketball players age 15 to 24 have a 1 in 10 chance of experiencing an eye injury
  • Eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children in the United States:
    • Approximately 27 percent of all eye injuries in children age 11 to 14 are sports-related
    • Children under age 15 account for 43 percent of sports and recreational injuries; eye injuries frequently occur when individuals are involved in baseball, ice hockey and racquet sports
    • When people participate in outdoor activities in the snow or on the water, ultraviolet light radiation from the sun can damage eyes; repeated exposure to ultraviolet sunlight can lead to problems as individuals age, including the development of cataracts and macular degeneration – the leading causes of vision loss among older Americans

While most sports-related eye injuries are not severe in nature – a scratch from a fingernail during a game or an elbow to the eye resulting in a black eye – it’s important to wear the correct type of protective eyewear to avoid serious eye injuries.

Symptoms of severe eye injuries are not always apparent, so individuals experiencing eye trauma should seek emergency care or an examination from an ophthalmologist. The warning signs of potentially serious eye injuries include:

  • Vision loss
  • Bleeding on the surface or inside the eye
  • Tears in the outer ocular walls
  • A foreign object inside the eye

Read more about protecting your eyes and consider wearing eye protection when you play or compete in a sports activity.


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