Eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in U.S. children, and most injuries in school-aged children occur during sports. These injuries account for an estimated 100,000 physician visits per year and cost more than $175 million. The good news is that most of these injuries are preventable with proper eye protection like safety glasses, goggles, shields and eye guards (source: NEI).
Here are some tips to help protect children’s vision during activities and sports:
1. Purchase helmets with polycarbonate face shields for hockey and baseball. Polycarbonate does not reduce visibility, and it is ten times more impact-resistant than other plastics.
2. Purchase proper safety goggles for racquet sports and basketball. Check for eyewear that is labeled ASTM F803 approved. This will provide the highest level of protection.
3. Check helmets, face shields and goggles regularly for cracks or signs of wear and replace them as needed.
4. Insist that children wear proper protective eyewear for all practices and games.
5. Encourage children’s sports teams and schools to adopt a policy on protective eyewear.
6. Ask coaches to be good role models and wear protective eyewear.
7. Schedule regular comprehensive eye exams for children to maintain clear vision and healthy eyes.
The risk of eye injury depends on the activity, so be sure to purchase eye protection that is specific to the activity. Regular eyeglasses do not offer proper eye protection, so never substitute regular glasses for sports eyewear. Talk to an ophthalmologist about prescription goggles or face shields so your children can participate in activities safely.