Preventable blindness occurs all too often from sports injuries. Most sports related eye injuries in children can be prevented with the appropriate form of protective eyewear. Regular eye glasses are inadequate, safety frames and lenses such as rec specs with side shields, goggles, eye guards and other forms of protection are required. Polycarbonate lenses are considered the standard for sports due to their extreme resistance to shattering. Frames need deeper and special grooves to hold the lenses so they won’t displace into the eye on sudden impact.
The most sports related eye injuries in children age 14 and under occur in baseball. Baseball velocities in 12 year olds can easily reach 60 to 70 mph. The injury rate for baseball starts to decline after 14 because student athletes start to gain better control and placement of the ball. Basketball is a close second with hands and fingers close to opponents eyes frequently resulting in injuries.
Other sports considered high risk are boxing, hockey, paintball, and court sports like racquetball and squash. There have been incidents in the past where participants wore protective eyewear without lenses and the high velocity of the racquetball allowed it to squeeze through the opening and maintain enough velocity to result in a detached retina.
The economic cost is staggering at close to 200 million dollars per year. You have act as an advocate for eye protection for your family since many organized and most informal sports activities do not have adequate requirements. Spend time discussing your options with your child’s eye doctor. Your optometrist is not the only persons advice you should be seeking. Many sports can result in serious repetitive mild head injuries with long term ramifications. If your child is engaged in high risk sports discuss head protection with your family doctor. Cities like Fort Collins place high value on outdoor recreational activities for our children and you should consider protective eye glasses a necessary addition to all of the gear. Vision is irreplaceable and teenagers are hard headed but sometimes not enough!