For active sports players, training, coaching and wearing the proper attire tend to be top concerns. Unfortunately, eye safety and wearing protective eyeglasses are often an afterthought. However, eye health should be a leading priority, whether you’re playing a friendly game of frisbee or you’re a serious soccer player.
In this article, Clearfinity Eyecare Optometrist stresses the importance of looking out for your eye health when playing sports.Sports and Eye Injuries
Every year, there are approximately 30,000 reported sports-related eye injuries in the U.S. alone that require a trip to the emergency room. Let’s take a look at the sports that cause the most eye injuries.
As a contact sport loved by many, it’s no surprise that basketball ranks high on this list. In the U.S, basketball is the leading cause of sports-related eye injuries. In the 2018 NBA Finals, basketball superstar LeBron James sustained a subconjunctival hemorrhage when he was poked in the eye by an opponent during a tussle. In 2017, Virginia player Akil Mitchell had his left eye dislodged when he got poked in the eye as he went up for a rebound. Fortunately, Mitchell’s vision was saved with the help of eye care professionals.
A swinging baseball bat can deal major damage. While basketball dominates the demographic for eye injuries sustained by adults, baseball causes most of the eye injuries sustained by kids aged five to 14.
If you’ve ever watched a hockey game live or on television, you’ll understand why hockey stadiums and arenas require protective netting or hockey rink walls made of sturdy glass. These protective barriers keep the spectators safe from projectile pucks while still offering good visibility. Pucks aren’t the only causes of hockey-related eye injuries, either. Hockey sticks also pose a threat to the eyes, especially due to their shape.
66% of the boxers applying for their license renewal with the New York State Athletic Commission had sustained at least one ocular injury. Macular lesions and retinal tears are just some of the injuries boxers risk sustaining due to the nature of the sport.
Full-contact sports like mixed martial arts draw a lot of spectators due to the entertainment value. However, the show of strength and mastery over the capabilities of the body are not without risks. It’s not uncommon to see MMA fighters with bandages over their eyes. Swollen faces with eyes sealed shut are also a common sight. Unfortunately, MMA fighters with vision problems cannot wear eyeglasses during sparring sessions and competitions. The use of contact lenses is allowed at the judge’s discretion.
Sports can do wonders for your physique and psyche, but they are not without risks. So, how can athletes continue doing what they love while safeguarding their eye health? The answer might be simpler than you think.
When playing high-contact sports like basketball or soccer, wear glasses made from shatterproof plastic, also known as polycarbonate lenses, or sports goggles that meet the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards. You can also refer to Canadian Standards Association (CSA) certification of eyeguards if you play racquet or other similar sports. As for other contact sports like boxing, thumbless gloves can help reduce the likelihood of eye injuries.
Keep in mind that sports that require full-body contact are by nature rife with injury risks. In these cases, refraining from participating might be the best way to avoid serious eye injury. However, regular eye exams and checkups with your preferred eye doctor can keep you informed regarding your eye health and whether it’s safe for you to engage in the sport.
First Aid Treatment for Eye Injuries From Sports
While eye injuries are a serious matter and should be treated only by eye care professionals, you may be able to perform some first aid treatments on the injured person to alleviate their discomfort or to prevent their condition from worsening. If the injury was caused by a blow from elbows, hands, balls or other sports equipment, apply a cold compress to the area, but take care not to apply pressure to the eyes. If a cold compress isn’t readily available, a bottle of cold soda wrapped in cloth can work in a pinch. Just make sure the cloth is clean.
Call 911 right away or make way for the paramedics on standby for more serious injuries involving objects such as shards of glass, a piece of metal or a wooden splinter that has made contact with the eye. Never attempt to remove the object or rinse the area with water. Fashion a makeshift eye shield by taping a paper cup on the bone structure surrounding the eye until professional help arrives.
If you are the one who got injured, try to remain calm. Even if you only suffered a black eye or a light blow, be vigilant and visit your ophthalmologist or the emergency room to ensure you’re not experiencing retinal detachment or any other serious eye injury. While accidents can and do happen, you can reduce the likelihood of them happening by taking precautionary measures, like wearing eye protective gear and being mindful of the rules of the game.
If you are a sports official, you can do your part in preventing eye injuries by making sure that the area and equipment are safe to use. Sports can be a healthy outlet for people of all ages. Ensuring the safety of everyone concerned (including the spectators) helps make sports fun for all.
For the Love of the Game
If you play sports regularly and are concerned about how your eye health might affect your game, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with Clearfinity Eyecare Optometrist, a top local eye clinic. We are your one-stop optical shop. We offer a wide range of eyewear, including protective eye gear customized to fit your vision needs and style preferences.
Interested in prioritizing eye safety when playing sports? Our highly trained staff can offer you more helpful tips on that! Our friendly doctors can also assist you by recommending eye exams and products that can help you step up your game. We want you to be able to keep doing the things you love, but above all, we want you to be able to do these things with your vision and eye health in optimal condition.