How to Protect Your Eyes from Injury
Compared to the rest of the body, the eyes are relatively small and they seem to be well out of reach of injury. Unfortunately, our eyes are sensitive and easily prone to damage from sun, debris, smoke, injury, and illness. And increasingly, many eye injuries occur while playing sports. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, more than 40,000 eye injuries are caused by recreational and sports activities every year.
The prevalence of eye injuries have led to the awareness that eye protection is as important as head protection when playing sports.
Many sports involve fast movements and flying objects, even small particles of dust and debris can damage the cornea of the eye, so the best method of protecting the eye is wearing protective glasses.
However, while regular glasses help mitigate injury from flying particles of dirt or dust, they are not strong enough to protect the eyes from a hard strike. The lenses in regular eyeglasses can shatter and cause a more severe penetrating injury.
To be safe, sports glasses should be worn. Sports glasses are made from polycarbonate lenses, which are stronger than standard lenses and won’t shatter; in fact, these lenses are ten times more resistant to impact than other plastic lenses.
Eye Injuries from Playing Sports
While there is a diverse range in the types of sports played in the Okanagan, the majority of eye injuries are related to blunt trauma from an object, usually a ball, hitting the eye. Of course, the severity of the injury depends on the object’s size, type, and the speed it is traveling when it hits the eye. A baseball will do more damage than a soft ball, and an object that is smaller than the eye socket can penetrate the eye, damaging the eyeball directly, whereas a larger object may fracture the bone surrounding the eye.
Eye socket fractures can cause serious damage to the eye. The muscles that move the eye can be caught or damaged by the fracture, which restricts movement, making it difficult to move the eye up or down.
Aesthetically, an eye socket fracture can cause the appearance of the eyes to be asymmetrical. When the eyes are misaligned, it can also cause double vision, making playing sports in the future unlikely.
Blunt trauma can do a lot of damage to the eye that you may not see. At first, it may seem that the trauma has merely caused a black eye, but it may also have caused internal bleeding, a rupture of the eyeball, inflammation, or retinal detachment.
Just like a concussion, the severity of the injury may not be immediately apparent, and this is why any type of eye injury should be examined by your Kelowna eye doctor to ensure there is no serious damage.
Although blunt injuries are the most common type of eye injury in sports, a penetrating injury is also a concern.
Any small flying piece of plastic, wood, metal, stone, dirt, or even a finger penetrating the eye can cause severe damage. A small scratch on the front of the eye can lead to corneal abrasion or even lacerations of the eyeball.
How to Protect Eyes While Playing Sports
Serious eye injuries may lead to permanent problems with vision that can range from a mild inconvenience to more severe visual impairment that impedes the ability to perform essential life functions.
Wearing the following protective eye gear when playing sports should be as common as wearing protective headgear, and this is especially important for children who are not as aware of the possible dangers as adults and may take more risks.
The type of protection needed varies depending on the sport that is being played.
- Athletes should purchase sports eye guards for the specific sport.
- Safety sports eyewear should be bought from a sports store or optical store where you can ask professional advice on the best eye protection for the sport you play.
- It is important to buy eyewear that has the correct lenses. The lenses should be tightly attached to the goggles to make sure the lens won’t break or pop out of the frame and into the eye on impact.
- The eye goggles should also be cushioned around the edges to prevent damage along the eyebrows or the nose in case of impact.
Remember that warning your grandparents would often say? “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.” Well, they were right, so make sure you wear the eye protection you need, so you can play safe and score for years to come.