By CARLLA JONES, U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion & Preventive Medicine Aberdeen Proving Ground, MdAugust 23, 2011
Sports-related eye injuries happen as a result of direct contact with other competitors and from equipment such as bats, balls, pucks, rackets, darts and guns (even air guns). According to the National Society to Prevent Blindness, the leading cause of sports-related eye injuries in 5- to 14-year-olds is baseball; in 15- to 24-year-olds, it's basketball. In general, the sports with highest risk for a sports-related eye injury for players not using protective equipment are basketball, racquetball, lacrosse, baseball and paintball. Sports that present a medium risk for sports-related eye injuries without the use of protective measures include tennis, football, golf and soccer.
The good news is almost all eye injuries can be prevented by understanding safety practices and using the proper protective eyewear. Ensure protective eyewear for sports meets requirements specified by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Published ASTM standards include:
• ASTM F803, Standard Specification for Eye Protectors for Selected Sports, which addresses racket sports, women's lacrosse, field hockey, basketball, baseball and soccer
• ASTM F1776-01, Eye Protective Devices for Paintball Sports
• ASTM F513-00, Eye and Face Protective Equipment for Hockey Players
Remember that regular glasses do not provide enough protection when playing sports. Safety goggles with polycarbonate protectors should be used for racquet sports or basketball. Batting helmets with polycarbonate face shields should be used for youth baseball. Helmets and face shields used when playing hockey should be approved by the U.S. Amateur Hockey Association.
Protective eyewear is only effective if it's worn, and its use should become a habit for participants of all ages. When purchasing protective eyewear, make sure it is designed specifically for that sport or other activity. Check the label on the product to verify the product has been tested, approved and certified.
If an eye injury occurs, consult an eye-care professional immediately. Keep the injured person still and calm to avoid worsening the injury. For chemical injuries, rinse the eye with water for about 15 minutes before transporting the person to medical care. Wash hands thoroughly before touching an irritated or injured eye, and never rub an eye that has any foreign material in it.
Make vision a health and safety priority. Protect yourself and the ones you love from eye injury. Wear protective eyewear and make sure your children use it too.
For more information about vision conservation, visit the Tri-service Vision Conservation and Readiness Program website at http://dodvision.com/ or Prevent Blindness America at http://www.preventblindness.org/. To view ASTM standards, visit http://www.astm.org/Standard/index.shtml.