There are over 40,000 sports-related eye injuries reported in the United States each year, although it is estimated that only 25% of all sports eye injuries are reported. Sports eye injuries include bruises around the eye, fractured facial bones, corneal abrasions, internal bleeding and retinal detachments. Many of these injuries can result in vision loss and permanent blindness, especially for children. Fortunately, over 90% of these injuries are preventable.
Children are primarily injured because they are not as coordinated or experienced as adults. For young athletes, baseball and basketball account for the largest number of eye injuries. Recently, the Maryland Society for Sight successfully lobbied for the passage of a city ordinance that will require Baltimore children under age 16 to wear batting helmets with protective face shields when playing youth league baseball. This was the first law mandating protective sportswear in the nation.
Injuries from moving objects are not limited to baseball. Tennis and badminton involve objects that can travel over 60 miles per hour (mph), and a handball or racquetball can travel up to 130 mph. Racquet sports pose additional dangers because a player can be hit with a racquet moving at fast speeds. Finally, players can be injured by finger jabs, elbows, fists and blows from other participants in contact sports.
Protective eyewear, including goggles (RecSpecs is a popular brand, and is carried at Midwest Eye Care) and face shields, offers the best protection against sports injuries. Regular street glasses, contact lenses and industrial safety eyewear offer only token protection. Lenses for sports eyewear must be made of polycarbonate (the most impact-resistant lens material) to protect the eye from fast-moving objects. Polycarbonate lenses also filter ultraviolet light and are scratch resistant.