In a previous blog I wrote about the results of a study we at CNIB conducted on eye injuries in adults. In this study I reported that only about 8% of eye injuries experienced by adults occurred while playing sports. While we didn’t study children, it is known that the number of eye injuries due to sports is much higher in children.
An article I have just come across on sports eye injuries in children in the United States reports that eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children and that most eye injuries in children are sustained while playing sports. The National Institutes of Health estimates that about 50,000 children sustain sports-related eye injuries every year in the U.S.
The situation is very similar in Canada.
So what can we do to reduce the number of children losing their sight as a result of a sports eye injury?
In the article I refer to, pediatric eye specialists from the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and the Wilmer Eye Institute in Baltimore are warning young athletes to wear protective goggles when playing sports, particularly in high-risk sports such as, fencing, boxing and ball sports, such as soccer, basketball, softball, lacrosse and baseball. I would suggest we add squash and tennis to this list. The eye specialists state that nine out of ten eye injuries can be prevented with the proper safety glasses. They point out that that protective eyewear includes safety glasses, goggles, shields and eye guards. These offer adequate protection for most sports. However, regular prescription glasses do not, and all sports eyewear should be sports-specific. Yes, there are special safety glasses for most sports, even baseball. Children who need to wear prescription glasses can have their safety goggles custom-made to match the prescription.
The experts at Johns Hopkins have the following recommendations for parents and athletes:
Make your child wear protective eyewear during practice and games.
Consult an ophthalmologist or an optometrist to find the best type of protective glasses suited for a particular sport.
Take your child regularly for eye screenings and exams, if he or she has a problem.
As the saying goes: “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Take the time and spend the small amount of money to make sure your child wears appropriate protective eyeware.