The return from winter break is just around the corner, and with that comes new sports seasons for many school-aged children. But no matter your age, protecting your eyes is an important element of enjoying sports safely. Here’s everything we want you to know about eye protection on the field.

Why Is Sports Eye Safety So Important?

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, nearly 30,000 eye injuries treated in emergency rooms are caused by sports injuries. But 90% of that damage could have been avoided with the proper protection. 

While sports-related eye injuries are especially common for children, the number of them who use protective eyewear (either safety glasses or goggles) is low. And these injuries can be serious, ranging from bruising of the lid to abrasions of the cornea and internal bleeding — even retinal detachment. Eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children.

Sports That Pose a Risk for Eye Injury

While virtually any physical activity could pose at least a remote risk for an eye injury, some are more likely to cause serious trauma than others. The National Eye Institute has categorized popular sports into high-, moderate-, and low-risk categories, as follows:

High Risk

  • Baseball/softball
  • Basketball
  • Fencing
  • Hockey
  • Paintball
  • Racquetball and squash
  • Mountain biking

Moderate Risk

  • Golf
  • Soccer
  • Tackle football
  • Tennis
  • Badminton

Low Risk

  • Gymnastics
  • Diving
  • Road biking
  • Swimming
  • Skiing
  • Track and field

What Type of Protective Eyewear Do You Need?

Since youth sports leagues don’t always require protective eyewear, it’s up to parents to enforce rules to keep their children safe. And adult players of all ages should choose and use their own preferred gear to keep their eyes and vision safe.

Different types of protective eyewear are recommended for different sporting scenarios. But in many cases, polycarbonate lenses may be your safest bet. For example, when fielding in baseball and softball, safety goggles with polycarbonate lenses can help protect against ball impact. These lenses are also recommended for other high-risk sports where there’s a chance of high-velocity impact. 

Similarly, in water-based activities that could result in impact, such as water skiing or tubing, water polo, or surfing, swim safety goggles with polycarbonate lenses are also recommended. For sports such as tennis or mountain biking, however, you may simply focus on a pair that reduces glare and fits your face well enough not to slide around. notes that eye protection can also be conveniently incorporated into helmets. For example, for youth baseball or softball players, batting helmets can feature polycarbonate face shields. 

Whatever protective eyewear you choose, keep in mind that regular glasses don’t provide enough protection for sports players. While some traditional lenses are also made from polycarbonate plastic, they don’t have the same level of impact resistance that sports lenses do. Fortunately, prescription sports eyewear is available even for players who typically wear glasses.

If you or your child needs sports eyewear, turn to Eye Consultants of Atlanta for top-notch protection and a wide range of options. Schedule an appointment online or call the office at (404) 351-2220.