Some of America's favorite sports to watch and play have a high risk of eye injury. Each year, more than 100,000 Americans suffer eye injuries during sports and recreation; more than 42,000 of these injuries require emergency room treatment. Most of these injuries could be prevented with the use of protective eyewear.
April is National Sports Eye Safety Month. Players are required to wear pads, shoes, leggings, helmets, and even mouth guards; but, rarely, do we see players with appropriate eyewear. Even though many sports-related eye injuries are preventable, most sports organizations do not require participants to wear the appropriate eye safety gear.
Eyeglasses and sunglasses (what Lehmann Eye Center considers "streetwear") are not enough. Eyewear with polycarbonate lenses should be worn for high risk sports, and helmets with a polycarbonate face mask or shield should be worn when helmets are required. Eye protection should be approved by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM).
Spectators should take caution, too. Take care to protect eyes from flying objects and pack a backup form of vision correction during activities that put you at risk of losing or shattering a lens.
If an eye injury occurs, see an ophthalmologist or go to the emergency room immediately. Delaying medical attention can result in permanent vision loss or blindness.