According to Prevent Blindness America, 40,000 eye injuries related to sports and recreation occur every year, and over 90% of them can be prevented with the proper use of sports eyewear.
Baseball and basketball make up the majority of youth sports eye injuries. For children ages 5 to 14, baseball is the No. 1 cause of sports-related eye injuries, according to “American Family Physician.”
There is no doubt that getting the right protection for your child’s eyes is every bit as important as the rest of his protective gear.
Have your child’s eyes checked before playing sports
Sports parents should not just assume that their children are seeing correctly before they sign them up to play sports. In fact, the American Optometric Association suggests that parents should plan on scheduling their baby’s first eye exam at 6 months of age.
That first eye exam can help detect vision or eye problems early on. The association claims that eyes exams are important a visiting a pediatrician or dentist, especially since many eye problems can develop with no symptoms.
Whether or not you choose to take your baby when they are that young, it does seem wise to have your child’s eyes checked before he begins playing sports.
What to wear?
If the eye doctor concludes that your child needs glasses–and he wants to play sports–it’s best to count on getting more than one pair of eye glasses.
After you get glasses for everyday wear, your next priority is to get sport-safe eyewear. Look for:
- Properly fitted, prescription goggles with a 3-mm polycarbonate lens. Prescription sports goggles can reduce your risk of ocular injury by 90 percent, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
- In baseball, consider attaching a prescription face mask to your child’s batting helmet when he are at bat. You should never let your child go to bat wearing normal glasses.
- If your child wears contacts, protect his eyes with nonprescription sports goggles, especially at bat. While contacts are safer than eyeglasses because they remove the threat of a glass injury, they do not protect you from a bat or ball to the eye.
- If your child is a swimmer, look for prescription goggles.
- To protect your child’s eyes from harmful rays from the sun, you can have UV protection added to polycarbonate lenses, protective goggles, and sometimes lenses for your helmet.
- If the glasses are too bulky for a helmet or if they easily fog up, try glasses that are similar to swimming goggles to hold them in place without any extra bulk. To prevent fogging, try an anti-fog product used by snowmobilers and snow skiiers.
Here’s a simple guide suggested by eye experts for what to wear in certain sports:
- Baseball: for batting and base running, a helmet with attached polycarbonate face shield. For fielding, sports goggles or sports sunglasses with shatter-proof lenses and attached head strap.
- Basketball: Wraparound sports goggles or glasses.
- Field Hockey: All players should wear sports goggles with secure head straps. Goalies: full helmets and face masks.
- Football: polycarbonate shield attached to the helmet.
- Golf: polarized sports sunglasses.
- Ice Hockey: full-face helmet
- Lacrosse: form-fitting and padded face mask.
- Soccer: sports goggles
- Softball: for batting and base running, a helmet with attached polycarbonate face shield. For fielding: sports goggles or sunglasses with shatter-proof lenses with an attached head strap.
- Volleyball: sports goggles or sunglasses.
Are you willing to take the chance?
Whether or not you choose to make your child wear protective eyewear is a decision that only you can make. However, if your young athlete needs glasses to see properly, it is imperative that you get sports glasses that provide the right protection for his eyes.
Sports vision specialists agree that sports eyewear can have a profound effect on athletic performance. And research backs up this belief. And even if your child does not need eye protection to see properly, are you willing to take the chance of leaving his eyes unprotected?
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