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Protecting Eyes from Sports-Related Injuries

Woman swimming

Thousands of sports-related eye injuries occur each year, but 90 percent of them are preventable with the use of protective eyewear, according to the American Optometric Association. For some sports, eye protection is more intuitive, like wearing goggles while swimming; but for others, it’s not as commonplace.

UV Protection

Baseball, beach volleyball, track and field, rowing, soccer and tennis players are all at risk from the sun’s damaging UV rays. Unprotected eyes can develop cataracts or photokeratitis, which is similar to sunburn on the eye.

In order to protect their eyes, athletes should look for sunglasses that provide 100 percent UV protection. The darkness of the lenses and color do not matter in terms of UV protection. Polarized sunglasses do not protect against the sun; they only reduce glare. Prescription sunglasses are also available.

Protective Eyewear

In swimming, lacrosse and field hockey, certain protective eye gear is mandatory or commonly worn. Interestingly, until 1976, Olympic swimmers weren’t permitted to wear goggles while competing. Now, most swimmers use goggles while swimming at fast speeds and to protect their eyes against chlorine and other chemicals in the pool. Both women’s field hockey and women’s lacrosse mandate the use of protective goggles or eyewear.

In sports like basketball, badminton, tennis and soccer, eyewear isn’t mandatory, but protective eyewear made from polycarbonate materials can prevent eye injuries, due to its shatter-proof material. In the 2012 Olympics, French basketball player Tony Parker was ordered to wear protective polycarbonate eyewear after suffering from a scratched cornea from a piece of glass that lodged in his eye.

Without the proper eye protection, injuries such as scratches on the cornea, detached retinas, eyelid bruising and internal bleeding are possible. If you or a loved one needs treatment after a sports-related eye injury or is interested in purchasing protective eyewear, contact The Eye Institute today.