Vision and Sports Safety Experts Release New Issue Brief on Best Practices for Protecting Eyes for Student Athletes

Vision and Sports Safety Experts Release New Issue Brief on Best Practices for Protecting Eyes for Student Athletes

Alexandria, VA (August 12, 2010) - Each year, approximately 200,000 eye injuries related to sports occur among children. Ninety percent of these incidents, however, could be prevented through the use of protective sports eyewear. As children head back to school and back onto the sports field this fall, The Vision Council urges parents to make sure their children have the right equipment to keep their vision safe with the release of a new issue brief, Eye Safety At-a-Glance Protecting Your Child's Vision in Sports.

When parents help their kids gear up for back-to-school it is important that they make sure their children also have the proper eye safety equipment to participate in sports, said Ed Greene, CEO of The Vision Council. Many parents do not realize how much damage a stray ball, puck or bat can do if it hits the eye. That is why The Vision Council has partnered with the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) to create this issue brief.

Eye injuries represent the leading cause of blindness in children and most eye injuries among kids aged 11-14 occur while playing sports. Children's sports eye injuries can range from abrasions of the cornea and bruises of the lid to internal eye injuries, such as retinal detachments and internal bleeding. Nearly 43 percent of sports-related eye injuries involve children under the age of 15, and boys between the ages of 11 and 15 are up to five times more likely to sustain eye injuries requiring hospital treatment than girls of the same age.

Protective eyewear is recommended for use in every sport especially for children who regularly wear glasses or contacts for vision correction. Studies show that protective eyewear does not hinder the player's sight, and some athletes even play better because they are less afraid of getting injured or hit in the eye.

NASPE, an organization dedicated to increasing support for high quality physical education, sport and physical activity programs, reminds consumers that preventing sports-related eye injuries begins with basic safety practices. Sports equipment should always include proper eye protection which can save players from an injury, said Dr. Lynn Couturier, chair of the Physical Education Department at SUNY Cortland and president of NASPE. Teaching kids to utilize and take care of their sport and physical activity equipment and safety gear can ensure safety habits that will protect them for a lifetime.

Sports-related eye injuries can be prevented by taking the following steps.

  • Be sure that all children wear protective sports eyewear, regardless of whether or not they wear eyeglasses or contacts.
  • All sports protective eyewear should meet the impact standards of the American Standards for Testing and Materials (ASTM). An eye doctor can make sure that glasses and or goggles are fitted properly. There are also a wide range of polycarbonate face masks and guards that can be attached to helmets or worn by themselves.
  • Everyday fashion eyewear is not held to the same protective standards as products labeled as protective eyewear for sport use. The lens in a child's regular eyeglasses could easily pop out and puncture or cut the eye. A frame mangled from impact could also injure the eyes and ocular region of the face.
  • Lenses should be made from polycarbonate materials as they provide the highest level of impact protection; they can withstand a ball or other projectile travelling at 90-miles per hour.
  • Just because a sport requires a helmet or face guard, it doesn't mean that your child's eyes are protected from injuries. They are still exposed to danger from sports equipment or an opponent's fingers penetrating the openings of a face mask.
  • Protective eyewear can be purchased at sporting goods stores as well as at an eye care professionals' offices.

To view or download a copy of The Vision Council's Eye Safety At-a-Glance: Protecting Your Child's Vision in Sports issue brief, please visit www.thevisioncouncil.org/consumers.

For more information on children's vision protection in sports, please contact Maureen Beddis at (703) 740-9496 or mbeddis@thevisioncouncil.org; or Starla Stiles at (202) 745-5065 or sstiles@gymr.com.

Serving as the global voice for vision care products and services, The Vision Council represents the manufacturers and suppliers of the optical industry. We position our members to be successful in a competitive marketplace through education, advocacy, consumer outreach, strategic relationship building and industry forums.

The preeminent national authority on physical education and a recognized leader in sport and physical activity, the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) is a non-profit professional membership association that sets the standard for practice in physical education and sport. NASPE's 15,000 members include: K-12 physical education teachers, coaches, athletic directors, athletic trainers, sport management professionals, researchers, and college/university faculty who prepare physical activity professionals. The mission of NASPE is to enhance knowledge, improve professional practice, and increase support for high quality physical education, sport and physical activity programs. It is the largest of the five national associations that make the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Dance (AAHPERD).