April is Sports Eye Safety Month

With 38,000 sports-related eye injuries reported in the U.S. each year, it is also a good time to evaluate your eye-safety in sports.

Basketball is a popular recreational sport. It is also responsible for the most eye injuries as reported to emergency medical facilities. Baseball is next, followed by water and pool sports.

Wearing quality eye protectors is a significant step in reducing sports eye injuries. Prescription glasses, sunglasses, and even occupational safety glasses do not provide adequate protection. Eyeguards made specifically for your sport is the recommended method of protection. If you wear prescription glasses, ask your eye doctor to fit you for prescription eyeguards.

If you have only one eye that sees well, you should ALWAYS wear sports eyeguards, as an eye injury could leave you blind. Children's high level of involvement in sports makes them especially vulnerable to eye injuries.

Most organized team sports require adequate protection, however these same precautions should be used during neighborhood play. Before your child joins in a friendly neighborhood street hockey game, or just practices his shots, insist he wear his full protective head and facial gear.

All eyeguards should fit securely and comfortably. Buy your eyeguard from a sports specialty store or optical store. Make sure it is labeled for sports use and made out of polycarbonate or Trivex, which are the most impact resistant material available. Don't buy sports eyeguards without lenses. Only protectors with lenses are recommended for sports use. The lenses should stay in place or pop outward in an accident.

Look for eyeguards that are padded along the brow and bridge of the nose. This will make them more comfortable and, more importantly, will prevent your skin from getting cut.

Outdoor sports need protection from UV rays in addition to other safety considerations. This is especially important in high altitudes, where the radiation is stronger. To minimize the risk of eye damage from the sun, sports vision specialists recommend protective sunglasses or goggles with a UV filter. Look for a label that indicates protection up to UV400, which is above the standard labeling and provides the best protection.

For more information on sports vision, contact Prevent Blindness America at www.preventblindness.org , the American Optometric Association at www.aoa.org, or the International Academy of Sports Vision at (717) 652-8080.