Play Hard, but Protect Your Eyes

The weather’s getting warmer, and a lot of people just want to go outside and play. But remember, you can’t hit the ball if you can’t see it, and if you fail to wear eye protection during certain activities, you’re courting injury.

According to the University of Miami Health System, of the 100,000 eye injuries resulting from sports each year, about 42,000 are treated in the emergency room; about 13,500 people with such injuries end up legally blind. Balls, bats and rackets are responsible for most of those injuries, but another player’s elbow or finger also can be dangerous.

Eye trauma resulting from athletic activities can be as minor (but painful) as a corneal scratch on the surface of the eye to a more serious, potentially blinding injury, such as breaking the bones around the eye (orbital fracture) and a detached retina (the light-sensitive lining at the back of the eye is pulled out of place).

Even after the eye heals, glaucoma, cataracts and retinal detachments can develop as a result of an injury. But 9 in10 eye injuries are preventable with protective eyewear.

Here’s what the university’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute recommends for sports-related eye safety:

  • Wear appropriate eye protection, such as polycarbonate lenses, sports goggles or masks that are properly fitted.
  • People who wear contacts or glasses also should wear appropriate protective eyewear – contacts offer no protection, and glasses are insufficient protection because lenses might shatter when hit by a projectile.
  • Protective eyewear should be replaced when damaged, as it can weaken and lose protective properties.

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