According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), most parents don’t think an innocent softball game will take their child to the emergency room, but sports and recreational activities cause more than 30,000 eye injuries each year.
Baseball and softball are two common causes of sports-related eye injuries. Accidental or misjudgment of the speed or distance of a flying ball can result in the ball hitting the face. However, the AAO reports that 90% of sports-related eye injuries can be prevented with the use of appropriate protective eyewear.
Eye injuries can be serious. The most common types of ocular trauma for sports injuries are blunt trauma, corneal abrasions, and penetrating injuries. As with any eye injury, it is important to seek care from a healthcare provider.
- Blunt trauma: Blunt trauma occurs when the eye is suddenly struck by an object. They can sometimes cause dark circles or hyphema (bleeding from the front of the eye). Sometimes the eyelid may be bruised or discolored. More severe blunt injuries often result in fractures around the eye or in the orbital bone, which can sometimes severely damage vital eye structures, resulting in vision loss. If your child’s eye is injured by a blunt force, be sure to seek advice from an ophthalmologist, as the injury may be more serious than it appears.
- Corneal abrasions: Corneal abrasions are painful abrasions on the outside of the eye or cornea. If you’ve ever poked yourself in the eye, you probably have a corneal abrasion.Wear and tear can cause a lot of pain, especially in the first few minutes. Corneal abrasions are very painful because the cornea has many nerve endings and a layer of cells is actually scraped off the surface of the cornea. Most corneal abrasions eventually heal on their own, but your healthcare provider may prescribe medication to help manage the pain. Sometimes healthcare providers insert ‘bandage contact lenses’ It’s just a powerless contact lens that acts as a Band-Aid while it heals.
- Penetrating Injuries: Penetrating injuries are caused by a foreign object penetrating the eye. Penetrating injuries are very serious and usually cause serious damage to the eye.These injuries usually occur when shattered glass from shattered glasses enters the eye, which is why most glasses are not made of glass. However, some over-the-counter sunglasses are made of glass. Be aware of this if you wear sunglasses while exercising, and be sure to look for polycarbonate lenses rather than glass lenses.After a penetrating injury to your eye, you may experience severe pain and be unable to open your eyes. Sometimes this type of injury can even cause significant bleeding. Penetrating injuries must be treated quickly to preserve vision.
Sadly, many people think that wearing regular glasses while exercising will protect their eyes. However, the opposite is true. The lenses of regular glasses can shatter when struck by a ball, which can lead to penetration injuries. All sports goggles and glasses should be made with polycarbonate lenses. Polycarbonate lenses are much stronger than regular lenses.
Each sport has a specific type of recommended protective eyewear, determined by ASTM International, the global standards setter. High-risk sports that require protective eyewear include, but are not limited to, basketball, baseball, hockey, and skiing.
To protect your child’s vision, you must actively protect their eyes during physical activity. Many youth and children’s teams do not require goggles, so insist that your child wear safety glasses or goggles while playing. Also, remember to set a good example by wearing goggles yourself.