Each year, 100,000 people suffer sports-related eye injuries. Of these injuries, about 13,500 of them result in permanent vision loss. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), 90 percent of all eye injuries can be prevented by wearing protective eyewear. In honor of Sports Eye Safety Month, New York LASIK surgeon Dr. Sandra Belmont shares tips on how to prevent a sports-related eye injury.
Protective eyewear with polycarbonate (a strong, shatterproof, lightweight plastic) lenses should always be worn when playing contact sports in order to protect from eye injuries. Polycarbonate lenses are 10 times more impact-resistant than other materials. Not only can protective eyewear protect against blunt trauma, they also prevent dirt, sand and debris from entering the eyes. The AAO recommends wearing protective eyewear with polycarbonate lenses when playing sports such as basketball, soccer and field hockey. Sports like baseball, ice hockey and lacrosse should be played wearing a helmet with a polycarbonate face mask or wire shield. All protective eyewear should meet the standards and requirements of a specific sport, which are established and certified by the American Society for Testing and Materials. For a list of those requirements, click here.
It’s important to note that regular prescription glasses should never be worn when playing sports as they can shatter and severely damage the eyes. If you wear glasses, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to obtain prescription protective sports eyewear.
You should always wear swimming goggles when in the water, both in the pool and in the ocean. Contact lenses should never be worn when you’re in the water as doing so can lead to bacterial infections and even permanent vision loss.
The most important thing to do if you suffer an eye injury is to seek an eye doctor as soon as possible. Quick and early medical attention can prevent serious or permanent eye damage — including blindness — from occurring.
To learn more eye safety tips, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Sandra Belmont. Call the Belmont Eye Center at (212) 486-2020.