Eye Care & Protection
Participation in organized sports is a great way for children to improve their physical fitness, coordination, sportsmanship, teamwork and other skills that will serve them well throughout their lives. Participation in sports, however, also exposes children to potential eye injuries. To protect children from these injuries, they need to wear proper eye protection whenever they engage in sports. This eye protection must be designed to specifically shield children’s eyes from impact by a foreign object.
Children account for over a third of the more than 600,000 eye injuries that occur annually. Eye injuries among children playing sports happen frequently, but the number of children wearing eye protection while playing sports remains low at only about 15 percent. According to the National Institutes of Health’s National Eye Institute, a majority of the eye injuries suffered by children ages 11 to 14 occur while playing sports.
Many sports have the potential to expose children to eye injuries, whether that sport is soccer, snow skiing, running, tennis or basketball, a team-based sport or a solo endeavor. For example, eye injuries occur most often in baseball, basketball, ice hockey and racquet sports, yet few parents encourage their children to wear protective eyewear when playing these sports. That is why the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Ophthalmology and American Optometric Association all strongly recommend protective eyewear for all participants in sports in which there is a risk of eye injury.
Below are some helpful tips to protect children’s eyes while playing sports:
- All children need protective eyewear regardless of whether or not they wear glasses or contacts.
- All sports protective eyewear should meet the impact standards of the American Standards for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
- A wide range of polycarbonate face masks and guards can be attached to helmets or worn by themselves.
- Everyday fashion eyewear is not held to the same protective standards as eyewear products labeled as protective eyewear for sport use.
- Lenses should be made from polycarbonate materials because they provide the highest level of impact protection and are available in both eyeglasses and sunglasses.
- Just because a sport requires a helmet or face guard, it doesn’t mean that children’s eyes are protected from injuries.
- Protective eyewear can be purchased at sporting goods stores as well as eye care providers’ offices.
- Be sure that sports safety glasses that will be used out of doors also protect the eyes from UV rays.
By evaluating and providing the protective eyewear available and designed specifically for children, and insisting that they wear it, parents can help children protect their eyes and establish healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
Learn more information about choosing sunglasses to protect children against UV exposure while playing sports and the proper eyewear to protect against impact injuries while participating in sporting activities.