As we near the back half of summer and school starts back up, many of us are starting to take up sports again. While many of us are looking forward to stepping back in the ring, the court, the field or the course, not many of us will be looking out for our eyes like we should be.
It is estimated that 25,000 people find themselves in the hospital for a sports-related eye injury each year. About 90% of these injuries can be prevented with the use of protective measures, and by being mindful of the impact that most sports can have on your eyes.
But what preventative measures should you use? And what steps can you take to be cognizant of how your favorite sport could harm your eyes?
Here are 5 safety tips that could answer all your questions:
Perhaps the most direct form of protection against eye injuries is the use of protective goggles.
In the same way that football players where pads to cover their bodies and mouthguards to cover their teeth, you should wear goggles to protect your eyes.
It is important that whatever protective eyewear you choose is labeled, “ASTM F803”, which means that it has been extensively tested to provide the best protection.
It is also important to know that regular glasses and sunglasses will not protect you from injury, and are not recommended for use as your safety goggles.
As un-stylish as a pair of protective goggles might seem while on the court, protecting you from vision loss and a scratched cornea are way more important!
In the same vein as eyewear, using a facemask for the more high-speed projectile sports like baseball, football and hockey can protect you from serious ocular injuries.
Besides the obvious protection that helmets and facemasks give you from head injuries, your eyes can be protected from a bad pitch or a stray slapshot with the use of a facemask.
While sunglasses, as earlier stated, cannot provide physical protection, the are adept at providing another type of protection.
Wearing UV protective sunglasses or UV protection enabled safety goggles protect your eyes from the harmful rays of the sun.
Keeping yourself protected from overexposure to sunlight can keep your eyes from getting sunburnt, or from irreparable vision damage that direct exposure to the sun can cause.
Be Aware of your Surroundings
Another way you can protect your eyes is to be aware of everything that is going on around you while participating in a sport. Coaches always tell you to “keep your head in the game”, and this adage can definitely serve as protection against eye injury as well.
Whether you’re zoned out on the bench, talking to a friend on the sidelines, or focused on something else while on the field, always be aware of where the ball is, who’s around you, and of anything else that might damage your eyesight.
Visit your Doctor Regularly
The final step you can take to maintain healthy vision while playing sports is to visit your doctor often for vision exams.
Whether it is just your annual vision exam, or if you are concerned about a vision problem, maintaining an open line of communication with your doctor about the activities that you’re involved in can help them make educated suggestions on how to better protect yourself out on the field.
If you are concerned that a vision problem may impair your ability to play your favorite sport, or if you are worried about getting injured while playing, visit your eye doctor today!