[dropcap]A[/dropcap]s millions take to the playing fields this spring, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of UHealth, the University of Miami Health System, reminds coaches, parents and athletes of the importance of wearing eye protection.
Of the 100,000 eye injuries resulting from sports each year, an estimated 42,000 people are treated in the emergency room, and 13,500 end up legally blind. Reports show that sporting equipment — including balls, bats, and rackets — are responsible for a majority of cases. In addition to injuries from sporting equipment, many also suffer eye injuries caused by another player’s errant finger or elbow to the eye.
“Spending a little money on sports goggles could make a huge difference in preventing a life-long eye injury. There are thousands of people each year that get hit in the face with a ball or get a finger in the eye, yet most of the injuries could be avoided by wearing eye protection,” said Eduardo Alfonso, MD, professor of ophthalmology and chair at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.
Eye trauma resulting from athletic activities range from corneal injuries (scratches and lacerations on the surface of the eye) to the more serious, potentially blinding injuries, such as an orbital fracture (bones around the eye are broken) and detached retina (when the light sensitive lining at the back of the eye is pulled out of place). Even after the eye heals, glaucoma, cataracts and retinal detachments can develop as a result of the injury. Fortunately, 90 percent of eye injuries are preventable by wearing protective eyewear.
Bascom Palmer Eye Institute provides the following sight-saving tips about sports-related eye safety:
• Wear appropriate eye protection, such as polycarbonate lenses, sports goggles or masks that are properly fitted.
• People who wear contacts or glasses should also wear appropriate protective eyewear, as contacts offer no protection and glasses are not sufficient protection since lenses may shatter when hit by a projectile.
• Protective eyewear should be replaced when damaged as they may have become weakened and are no longer protective.
“Today’s athletes can choose from various types of sturdy, lightweight and effective protective eyewear to use when participating in any sport,” Alfonso said.