What You Need to Know About Sports-Related Eye Injuries

For sports fans, spring is one of the most wonderful times of the year. Whether you are the parent of a future hall of fame athlete or you play sports yourself, you know that injuries are an unfortunate part of the game. Typically, when you hear people talk about “sports injuries,” your first thought is probably about concussions or injuries to the legs or arms. However, each year, it’s estimated that over 40,000 ER visits can be attributed to sports-related eye injuries. The good news is that 90% of these injuries could be prevented by wearing protective eyewear. 

Which Sports Are To Blame?

Eye injuries occur in some sports more than in others. In fact, the sports that contribute to the most eye injuries are basketball, baseball, and softball. A study published in the journal “Pediatrics” in 2018 revealed that between the years 1990 and 2012, an astounding 15.9% of sports-related eye injuries were basketball-related while 15.2% were baseball/softball-related. These injuries occur at all levels of the game. Even NBA players like LeBron James have dealt with eye injuries. During the 2018 NBA Finals, James was accidentally poked in the eye by an opponent resulting in him suffering a subconjunctival hemorrhage. This means that blood vessels in the white of his eye broke and made his eye appear red. The year prior to James’ injury, basketball player Akil Mitchell, who was playing was poked in the eye while attempting to rebound a ball during a game overseas. This resulted in a terrifying situation with his eye dislodging from its socket. Thankfully, an ophthalmologist was able to save his vision. 

What Can Be Done? 

Our goal in telling you this information is not to scare you but to warn you about the dangers in order to prevent an injury from happening in the first place. Protective eyewear is available for many sports. However, the type of eyewear needed varies. Think about it this way: You would not see LeBron James shooting baskets while wearing football pads. 

For sports like basketball, safety glasses with polycarbonate lenses are recommended because they are made with shatterproof plastic. As an added bonus, they provide protection against the sun’s harmful rays when you are participating in outdoor activities. Our friends at Vision Source put together a list of the eyewear commonly recommended for a number of popular sports: 

Keep in mind that the eyewear you choose needs to meet the standards set by ASTM, formerly known as the American Society of Testing and Materials. These standards are different for each sport. Prevent Blindness, a non-profit organization focused on helping people protect their vision, put together an easy-to-use guide with everything you need to know about ASTM requirements. You can check it out by clicking here.

What If I Wear Glasses?

Despite what you may believe, regular prescription glasses should not be worn as protective eyewear. In fact, they can do more harm than good. You could be seriously hurt if your glasses shattered and pieces became lodged in your eye. The good news for glasses wearers is that there are sports protection goggles that can be worn over glasses. Even better, some specialty goggles can be designed using your prescription so that you would not need to even wear your glasses. 

What About Fans?

You’ve probably seen videos of a fan at a baseball game getting hit in the face with a ball. It is a terrifying situation. Baseball in particular has taken extra precautions to protect fans from foul balls and flying bats by adding extra netting. However, accidents still happen. Your number one job is to always keep your eye on the ball. Make sure to wear sunglasses with 100% UV protection if you are watching an outdoor sporting event as well.

How Can We Help?

Our team at Kapperman, White & McGarvey Eyecare is here to provide you with recommendations and answer any questions you may have to help you find the right protective eyewear for you. When it comes to sunglasses, we have a ton of great styles for you to choose from. As we always say, “I care goes beyond eyecare,” and helping you safely enjoy life while protecting your vision is our top priority. Give us a call at 423-892-2020 or stop by our office to speak with our team of eyecare professionals.