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Sports and Eye Safety in the Month of April

The typical sports goggle found in baseball and basketball today.
The typical sports goggle found in baseball and basketball today.

With March Madness coming to an end, and baseball's opening day just around the corner, it's no surprise that April is Sports Eye Safety Month. An estimated 40,000 sports eye injuries occur every year, from corneal abrasions and eyelid bruises to retinal detachments and internal bleeding. A majority of these victims are children, with baseball and basketball accounting for the largest number of injuries. The good news is that with the proper protective eye wear and equipment, most of these injuries are preventable.

In which sports are eye injuries the most common? Eye injuries are, by far, most common in basketball. Protective eye wear is not mandated and usually not encouraged. With flying elbows and fingers, serious eye injuries resulting from blunt trauma can often occur to unprotected eyes. Eye injuries often occur frequently in baseball, tennis, and racquet ball. Little League pitches may reach speeds of up to 70 mph, which is fast enough to break bones and cause retinal detachments. Soccer, football, golf, water sports and hockey also put unprotected players at risk for serious eye injury.

So, what can you do to protect yourself? Regular glasses do not provide enough protection alone. Specific protective eyewear is available for just about all activities. Long gone are the sports band googles that were prominent in baseball during the mid to late 80's. Today's sports protection allows athletes to choose from various styles of sturdy, lightweight, and effective eyewear. When properly fitted, eyewear does not hinder performance and can prevent 90% of sports eye injuries. In addition, lenses should be made from the shatterproof Trivex material. This will prevent lens breakage and provide improved optical clarity over obsolete polycarbonate materials. Finally, all appropriate protective equipment should be worn at the appropriate times during games. This includes batting helmets in baseball and helmets and face shields in hockey.