Approximately 600,000 eye injuries occur every year as a result of sports or recreational activities – a staggering statistic considering more than 90% of those could be prevented by simply wearing protective eyewear. If you aren’t taking this step for yourself or your children, you are not alone. According to a survey conducted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, fewer than 35% of respondents reported wearing eye protection while playing sports.
Many sports are considered high risk for eye injuries as they involve projectiles, close contact, and “sticks”, as used in golf or hockey. School aged children are particularly susceptible to eye injury while playing sports since their athletic skills (hand-eye coordination, balance, and reaction time) are still being developed. Eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children and the majority of these injuries occur in 11-14 year olds while playing sports. Most school athletic departments and independent youth sports organizations do not require eye protection so it is up to the parent to make sure their children’s eyes are being protected.
Sports aren’t the only recreational activity that can pose a risk to your vision. Home repairs and lawn care, and hobbies such as woodworking, hunting, and even fishing can create hazards. Flying debris from saws, grinders, and drills can lodge in the eye and cause injury and infection. Sticks or rocks kicked up by the lawn mower and splintered branches while trimming the hedges can lead to serious injury. Nearly half of all reported eye injuries occur in and around the home while doing everyday tasks.
Regular eyeglasses are not protective eyewear. Safety glasses must conform to a higher standard of impact resistance than eyeglasses, for both frames and lenses. Safety frames are stronger than street wear, usually heat resistant, and are designed to prevent the lenses from being pushed into the face. The lenses are most often polycarbonate, in either prescription or non-prescription, because they are lightweight, scratch resistant, and 10 times more impact resistant than other materials. When purchasing your safety glasses make sure to look for the Z87 label – the standard for protective eyewear as set by the American National Standards Institute.
Protective glasses can be suited to your taste with different colors and frame styles and well as customizing their function with options such as polarized lenses to cut glare while fishing, or tinted lenses to improve accuracy while hunting and target shooting.
Protecting your eyes from injury is the simplest way to ensure healthy vision. In the event you do suffer an eye trauma, do not attempt to treat it yourself. Without applying pressure, cover the eye with a cold compress and see your eye doctor as soon as possible. If the injury affects vision, eye movement, or there is bleeding in or around the eye, seek emergency medical treatment immediately. Serious eye injuries can lead to permanent vision loss so it is very important to respond quickly.