Protection at Play: Eye Protection Crucial for Athletes and Selected Sports

April is sports eye safety month which is a good time to reinforce education about eye safety that should be observed all year long. In a joint policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Ophthalmology, several alarming statistics regarding eye injuries while playing sports were released. According to the statement, 42,000 eye injuries were reported in 2000 with 43 percent occurring in children under the age of 15. Those two figures alone mandate that eye protection is crucial for athlete. Further, 90 percent of the injuries could have been prevented by wearing proper eye protection.



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While many of the sports identified as high and moderate risk for eye injuries are no surprise, several are listed that you may not have considered. Unfortunately, many of the sports and recreational activities do not make safety eye wear mandatory, so it is up to parents to ensure their children have appropriate protection and wear it while participating. The following are a few of the high and moderate risk activities for which protective eye wear should be worn:


  • Basketball
  • Baseball and softball
  • Hockey
  • Paintball
  • Tennis
  • Volleyball
  • Tennis


Generally speaking, any sports involving balls or projectiles are high risk for eye injuries and proper safety eye wear should be worn.


Protective eye wear comes in four basic styles, only two of which are appropriate for sports. The first type are glasses or goggles and the second is designed for sports with helmets where glasses are not considered safe enough. Both types of protective eye wear have to meet the requirements of the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard F803. Due the wide variety of products available, it can be difficult to make the appropriate choice that will provide the best protection for a given sport. It is highly recommended that you speak to your licensed eye care professional for guidance.


Optos encourages you to purchase and use protective eye wear not only for sports eye safety month, but whenever you or your children participate in sports or activities that are high risk for eye injury. Also make sure to have regular comprehensive eye exams using optomap® ultra-widefield retinal imaging to ensure your eyes are healthy and to detect possible eye disease as soon as possible.