Saturday, June 4, 2011

Prevent blindness in kids

Wear protective eyewear in sports

Eye injuries, especially sports eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in kids (read my previous post on this subject here) but they are easily preventable by wearing protective eyewear, which can prevent 90% of sports related eye injuries.

Be smart about protective eyewear

The tragedy is that even though sports eye injuries are so easily prevented, very few athletes (adults or children) wear protective eyewear.

Even when protective eyewear is worn it is often not worn intelligently. For example, batted baseballs are 3.5 times as likely to cause an eye injury than a pitched ball. Unfortunately, most players do not wear protective eyewear when they are not at bat.

Prevention is better than surgery

Surgery is an option in extreme cases of injury but prevention is the best medicine. It also saves our taxpayer funded health care system millions of dollars a year. This is money that is more properly devoted to treating cancer and other diseases that are not so easily prevented. For example, an American study found that a basketball eye injury to a child under 15 costs the system an average of $3,996.

Four important points

Keep these points in mind regarding protective eyewear:

•All kids need protective eyewear.
•Ordinary prescription glasses do not provide adequate protection.
•Eyewear should be sport-specific and sit comfortably on the face.
•Protective eyewear is usually made of polycarbonate.

Examples of protective eyewear

Protective eyewear includes safety glasses and goggles, safety shields, and eye guards specially designed to provide the correct protection for a certain activity. Ordinary prescription glasses, contact lenses, and sunglasses do not provide adequate protection in eye-hazardous situations. Safety goggles should be worn over them.

Always use polycarbonate

The best material for safety lenses is polycarbonate. Polycarbonate lenses are lightweight, scratch-resistant, thin, and can be designed to meet most eyewear designs or prescriptions, they are also 10 times more impact-resistant than other materials.

What about athletic performance in protective eyewear?

Studies show that protective eyewear does not hinder the player’s sight while participating in athletics. In fact, an athlete may play better in protective eye wear because she is not afraid of a potential eye injury.


Prunella, W. (1999). Average societal cost of body part injured. Injury cost model. Bethesda, MD.

Miller, B.A., & Miller, S.J. (1993). Visual fields with protective eyewear. The Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy, 18(3), 470-472.

American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Conn, J.M., Annest, J.L., Gilchrist, J., & Ryna, G.W. (2004). Injuries from paintball game-related activities in the United States, 1997-2001. Injury Prevention, 10(3), 129-143.

Fineman, M.S. (2001). Ocular paintball injuries. Current Opinion in Ophthalmology, 12(3), 186-190.