Each year, an estimated 100,000 people are hurt by sports-related eye injuries. About 13,500 of these injuries result in permanent vision loss. In support of Sports Eye Safety Month this April, the American Academy of Ophthalmology reminds athletes everywhere that the great majority of sports-related eye injuries can be avoided by simply wearing the proper protection.
For all age groups, sports-related eye injuries occur most frequently in baseball, basketball and racquet sports.
Boxing and full-contact martial arts pose an extremely high risk of serious and even blinding eye injuries. There is no satisfactory eye protection for boxing, although thumbless gloves may reduce the number of boxing eye injuries.
In baseball, ice hockey and men’s lacrosse, a helmet with a polycarbonate (an especially strong, shatterproof, lightweight plastic) face mask or wire shield should be worn at all times. It is important that hockey face masks be approved by the Hockey Equipment Certification Council or the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).
Protective eyewear with polycarbonate lenses should be worn for sports such as basketball, racquet sports, soccer and field hockey. Choose eye protectors that have been tested to meet the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards or that pass the CSA racquet sports standard. See the EyeSmart Protective Eyewear page for additional details.
If you already have reduced vision in one eye, consider the risks of injuring the stronger eye before participating in contact or racquet sports, which pose a higher risk of eye injury. Check with your ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) to see if appropriate eye protection is available and whether or not participating in contact or racquet sports is advised.
- Eye protectors for selected sports( racket sports, women’s lacrosse, field hockey, baseball and basketball
- Eye and face protective equipment for hockey players
- Eye protectors for use by players of paintball sports
- Head and face protective equipment for ice hockey goaltenders
- Face guards for youth baseball
- High-impact resistant eye protective devices for Alpine skiing