Wearing Eye Protection Prevents Athletes from Getting Benched Due to Injury

August 21, 2018

Sports-realted eye injuries cause an estimated 100,000 doctor visits each year. Yet, most of these injuries can be prevented by wearing eye protection. In fact, a recent study of high school field hockey players shows that traumatic eye injuries fell 67 percent after eye protection became mandatory.

With fall sports seasons getting underway, providers with Mercy Clinic Ophthalmology - Patients First Drive in Washington and the American Academy of Ophthalmology are offering athletes of all ages guidance on how to best protect their eyes.

Common sports eye injuries include corneal abrasions, lacerations and bleeding in the eye. Basketball players tend to get poked in the eye with fingers. Tennis, squash, racquetball and softball players more often get hit with fast moving balls. In contact sports like football and martial arts, more severe ocular injuries such as retinal detachment and orbital fractures can occur. One-third of sports related eye injuries happen to kids, but adults are not immune from injuries.

The good news is that 90 percent of eye injuries can be prevented with the use of protective eyewear. Save your vision while playing sports by following these tips:

  • Wear the right eye protection: For basketball, racquet sports, soccer and field hockey, wear protection with shatterproof polycarbonate lenses. Consider the full frame protection complete with a lens. Many injuries can still happen when wearing the frames without a lens.
  • Put your helmet on: For baseball, ice hockey and lacrosse, wear a helmet with a polycarbonate face mask or wire shield.
  • Know the standards: Choose eye protection that meets American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards. Visit the practice page for Mercy Clinic Ophthalmology - Patients First Drive to find a link to the American Academy of Ophthalmology's patient information portal for detailed information on proctective eyewear.
  • Throw out old gear: Eye protection should be replaced when damaged or yellowed with age. Wear and tear may cause them to become weak and lose effectiveness.
  • Glasses won't cut it: Regular prescription glasses may shatter when hit by flying objects. If you wear glasses, try sports goggles on top to protect your eyes and your frames.


"Virtually all sports eye injuries could be prevented by wearing proper eye protection," said ophthalmologist Philip R. Rizzuto, M.D., clinical spokesperson for the Academy. "That's why I always strongly encourage athletes to protect their eyes when participating in competitive sports."

"The Four Rivers area offers a wonderful mix of outdoor activities for people of all ages and interests," said Glenn Sanford, M.D., ophthalmologist with Mercy Clinic Ophthalmology - Patients First Drive. "I encourage everyone to wear the appropriate eye safety protection. We never expect an injury, so we must prepare and prevent them whenever possible."

Anyone who experiences a sports eye injury should immediately visit an eye care specialist experienced and comfortable in diagnosing and treating eye injuries. Learn more about Mercy Clinic Ophthalmology - Patients First Drive and schedule an appointment by clicking below.

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E. Glenn Sanford, MD, Mercy

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