Summer sports are leading causes of eye injuries
RALEIGH – The boys and girls of summer should take care to protect their eyes while playing sports, North Carolina eye doctors warn.
More than 40 percent of eye injuries every year are related to sports or recreational activities, according to the N.C. Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons and the American Academy of Ophthalmology, whose members are trained medical doctors.
A recent study found that about 30,000 Americans a year go to emergency departments with sports-related eye injuries. Three sports accounted for almost half of all injuries: basketball, baseball/softball and air/paintball guns, which many children and adults play throughout the summer.
Basketball is the leading cause of injury in boys and men, followed by baseball and air/paintball guns. Among girls and women, baseball or softball is the leading cause, followed by cycling and soccer.
Sports-related injuries can range from corneal abrasions and bruises on the lids to more serious, vision-threatening internal injuries, such as a retinal detachment and internal bleeding. About one-third of sports related eye injuries happen to children.
“North Carolina is a wonderful state for sports indoors and outside, but everyone should be careful while competing and playing this summer,” said Kathleen Gordon, M.D., President of the N.C. Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons. “A little safety goes a long way – and helps keep our sports experiences healthy and our memories happy.”
The good news for athletes of all ages is that simply wearing protective eyewear can prevent about 90 percent of eye injuries, leading ophthalmologists note.
“Virtually all sports eye injuries could be prevented by wearing proper eye protection,” said ophthalmologist Dianna L. Seldomridge, M.D., a Duke Eye Center ophthalmologist and clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “That’s why I always strongly encourage athletes to protect their eyes when participating in competitive sports.”
Follow these tips to save your vision:
· Wear the right eye protection: For basketball, racquet sports, soccer and field hockey, wear protection with shatterproof polycarbonate lenses.
· Put your helmet on: For baseball, ice hockey and lacrosse, wear a helmet with a polycarbonate face mask or wire shield.
· Know the standards: Choose eye protection that meets American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards. See the Academy’s protective eyewear webpage for more details.
· Throw out old gear: Eye protection should be replaced when damaged or yellowed with age. Wear and tear may cause them to become weak and lose effectiveness.
· Glasses won’t cut it: Regular prescription glasses may shatter when hit by flying objects. If you wear glasses, try sports goggles on top to protect your eyes and your frames.
Anyone who has a sports eye injury should immediately visit an ophthalmologist, a trained medical doctor who specializes in total medical and surgical eye care.
For more information on sports eye safety, see the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart® website at www.eyesmart.org.