Eye Safety and Sports

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), nearly 30,000 sports-related eye injuries are treated in U.S. emergency rooms each year. Since April is Sports Eye Safety Month, our ReFocus experts are reminding how to best protect from eye injuries while playing sports, the steps you can take to prevent them, and how to treat these injuries if you receive them.

Preventing Sports Eye Injuries

It is encouraging to know that 90% of serious eye injuries could be prevented by wearing protective eyewear. Partnering with your ophthalmologist is the best way to determine which protective eyewear is best for you, as your ophthalmologist can provide recommendations based on your unique interests, situation, etc.

Keep in mind that regular eyeglasses do not offer proper eye protection against sport injuries and could actually make injuries worse if the glasses shatter. The American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) sets the standards when it comes to the requirements eye protection must meet in order to prevent eye injuries in sports. These standards include:

  • ASTM F803: Eye protectors for selected sports (racket sports, women’s lacrosse, field hockey, baseball, basketball)
  • ASTM F513: Eye and face protective equipment for hockey players
  • ASTM F1587: Head and face protective equipment for ice hockey goaltenders
  • ASTM F1776: Eye protectors for paintball participants
  • ASTM F2879: Eye protectors for use when playing airsoft sports
  • ASTM F910: Face guards for youth baseball
  • ASTM F659: High-impact resistant eye protection for Alpine skiing

Your ophthalmologist can also help you select the proper lens for your eyewear, as well the ideal materials for the frames of your eyewear, depending on the sports you play and your activity level.

Treating Sports Eye Injuries

Eye injuries and their treatment plans can vary by sport and type of injury. Below are a few of the more common sports eye injuries our experts see, as well as often recommended approaches for treatment. Again, only your ophthalmologist can put together a custom treatment plan for you once seeing your injury and understanding your unique situation.

  • Basketball: This sport is the leading cause of sports-related eye injuries, in the United States, followed by baseball and softball. If you are playing basketball and you receive an injury to the eye, an object comes in contact with your eye, etc. go the emergency room. Delaying medical attention can result in permanent vision loss or blindness, so it is imperative that the injury is taken seriously. Once you have been assessed, also call and speak with your ophthalmologist to determine their recommended path forward.
  • Combat Sports: Boxing and full-contact martial arts also pose a high risk for serious eye injuries. Similarly to basketball, if you receive an eye injury while participating in combat sports go to the emergency room for immediate assessment and then call your ophthalmologist as well.

Our ReFocus experts recommend better learning about the sports and activities you participate in, and understanding the guidelines for eyewear protection as it relates to those sports/activities. If you have any questions or would like additional insights from our team, contact us today. Our goal is to empower you and your family with the knowledge you need on sports eyewear protection to then make informed decisions about your participation, all with the goal of preventing sports-related eye injuries.