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Eye on the Ball: How to Protect Your Eyes In Sports

Author: Rosemary Buckle, M.D.

Did you know that more than 13,000 children suffer sports-related eye injuries each year? And that most of those injuries could be prevented with proper eye protection? A new infographic from UCLA Health helps us take a closer look at what’s going on with sports-related eye injuries. Many of these injuries are preventable… here’s what you need to know in order to protect yourself and your family!

Eye Injuries At a Glance

The majority of sports injuries occur in baseball and basketball. Close behind these two sports rank hockey, lacrosse, tennis, wrestling, football and soccer. Eye injuries are most likely to occur when an object like a ball, bat, finger or elbow strikes the face.

Common symptoms of an eye injury include: pain, eye redness and blurred or double vision. Depending on the impact, injuries may range from relatively minor to severe. Common injuries include:

    • Eyelid scratches and bruising
    • Bone fractures around the eye
    • Nerve or muscle damage
    • Cuts/scratches on the eye, bleeding inside the eye (hyphema) or retinal detachment (sings include floaters, reduced vision, light sensitivity)

How YOU Can Protect Your Eyes

    • Schedule an eye exam before you begin a sport. If you can’t see, you can’t dodge the ball!
    • Pick a sport-specific eye guard. Different sports have different eye guards. Use the appropriate guard for the sport you’re playing!
    • Buy prescription glasses made of polycarbonate plastic, which is 10x more impact-resistant than traditional glasses.
    • Choose eye guards/glass with padding at the nose and brow if playing contact sports.

Hurt? Don’t Delay Treatment!

If you (or your child) experience an eye injury while playing sports, it’s important to not apply pressure or rub the eye. Contact your physician for medical guidance. Know that the sooner an eye injury is treated, the better the chances of recovery. If left untreated, serious eye injuries can lead to permanent loss of vision or loss of the eye itself.

Protective Eyewear Can Save Your Vision!

Wearing appropriate eyewear is the most effective way to prevent sports-related eye injuries. Because most athletic leagues do not require eye protection, it’s up to the parents and coaches to encourage players to wear eye protection. As more players wear eye protection, their peers will become more likely to do so, as well.

See a Houston Sports Medicine Doctor for Athletic Care

For other Houston sports medicine needs, schedule an appointment at Houston Institute for Sports Medicine & Orthopedics by calling (713) 756-5546. You can also schedule your appointment online.

Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.