Sports are a great way to stay fit, have fun, and spend time with friends and family. But, as with any physical activity, there are always risks involved, including the risk of eye injuries. Each year, sports-related eye injuries hurt an estimated 100,000 people in the United States alone, with about 13,500 of these injuries resulting in permanent vision loss. That’s why the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) has designated April as Sports Eye Safety Month to remind athletes of all ages and skill levels about the importance of protecting their eyes while playing sports.
The good news is that most sports-related eye injuries can be avoided by simply wearing the proper protection. Depending on the sport, experts recommend that basketball, racquet sports, or soccer athletes wear protective eyewear with polycarbonate or Trivex lenses. This type of eyewear is impact-resistant and can withstand a hit from a ball or other equipment. In contrast, athletes who play hockey or lacrosse should wear a helmet with a full-face shield to protect against high-velocity impacts.
Even sports that may not seem like they require eye protection, such as swimming, can pose a risk to your eyes. Chlorine in swimming pools can irritate the eyes, causing redness, itching, and even blurred vision. Wearing goggles while swimming can help protect your eyes from the effects of chlorine and other chemicals and debris floating in the water.
In addition to wearing the proper eye protection, there are other steps you can take to reduce your risk of sports-related eye injuries. For example, inspect your equipment regularly to ensure it is in good condition and fits properly. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, wear them while playing sports and consider investing in prescription goggles or helmets with built-in prescription lenses.
Finally, seek medical attention immediately if you experience an eye injury while playing sports. Signs of an eye injury may include pain, redness, swelling, blurred vision, or sensitivity to light. Delaying treatment can increase the risk of permanent vision loss or other complications.
In conclusion, Sports Eye Safety Month is an important reminder that sports-related eye injuries are preventable. So, let’s prioritize eye safety this April and year-round! By wearing the proper eye protection, inspecting your equipment, and seeking medical attention if necessary, you can reduce your risk of permanent vision loss and continue to enjoy the sports you love.