Keeping Your Eyes Safe While Playing Sports

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recognizes April as Sports Eye Safety Month to raise awareness of the prevalence of eye injuries in sports. Every year, approximately 100,000 people sustain sports-related eye injuries, such as blunt trauma, penetrating injuries, corneal abrasions and detached retinas. Complications from those injuries can range in severity, with approximately 13,500 injuries leading to permanent vision loss.

With the right precautions, the majority of these injuries can be avoided. In honor of Sports Eye Safety Month, Access Eye offers three tips for keeping your eyes safe while playing sports or enjoying other recreational activities.

Wear protective guards or goggles.

Every sport is unique and has its own set of risks to your eyes and vision. Eye injuries tend to occur more often in sports that involve rackets (e.g., tennis, racquetball) as well as contact and collision sports like football, wrestling and basketball.

We encourage you to research sport-specific protective gear, such as face masks, goggles or other safety eyewear. When picking out your gear, select pieces that have been tested and adhere to the American Society of Testing and Materials standards. Ensure your gear fits well and doesn’t feel too tight or too loose on your face. Check your gear regularly and replace any pieces that have become yellow or damaged with wear or age.

If you play an outdoor sport, look for goggles or face masks that have built-in UV protection to shield your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays.

Keep your vision prescription up to date.

As we noted in a blog post last year, clear vision is important to athletic performance. Your safety also depends on great vision — without clear vision, you may not be able to see a ball, piece of equipment or opponent coming your way.

If you wear glasses or contacts, keep your prescription up to date by seeing one of our optometrists or ophthalmologists regularly. Work with your eye doctor to find prescription sports lenses that will enable clear vision and protect your eyes.

See an eye doctor immediately if you experience an injury.

In the event that you do experience an eye injury on (or off) the field, seek immediate medical attention. Depending on the day and time of your injury, you may contact one of our eye doctors to request an evaluation or go straight to the emergency room. A doctor can judge the severity of the problem and determine whether treatment intervention is necessary.