Stay in the Game! Eye Protection Should Be Part of a Sports Team Uniform

COLUMBUS, OH (August 31, 2011)The new school year has started with many students and parents purchasing sports uniforms and equipment.  Prevent Blindness Ohio recommends that eye protection be part of necessary equipment for safe and successful sports play for every child.
 
Every year, more than 40,000 athletes suffer an eye injury while playing sports.  And, every 13 minutes, an emergency room in the United States treats a sports-related eye injury.   Adults and children can protect their vision while playing sports by wearing the proper eye protection. Prevent Blindness Ohio has dedicated September as Sports Eye Safety Awareness Month to encourage everyone to make eye safety part of the game plan.
 
Polycarbonate lenses must be used with protectors that meet or exceed the requirements of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).  Each sport has a specific ASTM code.  Polycarbonate eyewear is 10 times more impact resistant than other plastics, according to the National Eye Institute.  There is no evidence that wearing eye protection hampers athletic performance. 
 
Eye injuries can include painful corneal abrasions, blunt trauma and penetrating injuries, inflamed iris, fracture of the eye socket, swollen or detached retinas, traumatic cataract and blood spilling into the eye's anterior chamber.  The consequences of eye injury can range from temporary to permanent vision loss.
 
Any athlete who has poor vision or blindness in one eye should take particular care to protect their remaining vision.  Yet, many forgo eye protection.  According to a recent survey conducted by researchers at the Ohio State University, only 21 percent of college football programs required the use of a faceshield for those players with poor vision in one eye, while a mere 20 percent recommended faceshields.
 
“Whether it’s goggles for basketball or faceshields for football players, everyone must make eye protection part of their uniform,” said Sherry Williams, President & CEO of Prevent Blindness Ohio.  “And we can’t stress enough how important it is for those who have diminished or no vision in one eye to protect their healthy eye while playing sports.  An eye accident can happen in a split second yet impact the rest of your life.”
 
Prevent Blindness Ohio provides the following guidelines for purchasing the best eye protection:
  • If you wear prescription glasses, ask your eye doctor to fit you for prescription protective sports eyewear.
  • If you're a monocular athlete, ask your eye doctor what sports you can safely participate in. Monocular athletes should always wear sports eye protectors.
  • Fogging of the lenses can be a problem. Some eye protectors are available with anti-fog coating. Others have side vents for additional ventilation. Try on different types to determine which is most comfortable.
  • Check the packaging to see if the eye protector has been tested for sports use. Also check to see that the eye protector is made of polycarbonate material. Polycarbonate eyeguards are the most impact resistant.
  • Sports eye protectors should be padded or cushioned along the brow and bridge of the nose. Padding will prevent them from cutting the skin.
  • Try on the eye protector to determine if it's the right size. Adjust the strap and make sure it's not too tight or too loose.
  • For outdoor sports, look for eye protection that blocks harmful UV rays.
In an ongoing effort to educate children and their parents on the importance of sports eye injury protection, Prevent Blindness Ohio, Prevent Blindness America, The Coalition to Prevent Sports Eye Injuries and Liberty Sport, Inc., have embarked on the second year of the “September is Sports Eye Injury Prevention Awareness Month” campaign. The program provides free educational materials to eye care professionals, specifically those who are Sports Eye Injury Prevention Centers. 
 
For more information on sports eye injury prevention and information on sport-specific eye protection recommendations, please call Prevent Blindness Ohio at 800-301-2020 or log on to www.pbohio.org.
 
About Prevent Blindness Ohio
Prevent Blindness Ohio, founded in 1957, is Ohio’s leading volunteer nonprofit public health organization dedicated to prevent blindness and preserve sight. We serve all 88 Ohio counties, providing direct services to more than 800,000 Ohioans annually and educating millions of consumers about what they can do to protect and preserve their precious gift of sight. Prevent Blindness Ohio is an affiliate of Prevent Blindness America, the country’s second-oldest national voluntary health organization. For more information or to make a contribution, call 800-301-2020.  Or, visit us on the web at www.pbohio.org or facebook.com/pbohio.
 
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SPORTS EYE HEALTH & SAFETY TALKING POINTS
  •  Approximately 25 percent of the estimated 2.4 million eye injuries that occur in the United States each year happen during sports and recreational activities.
  • Every 13 minutes an ER treats a sports-related eye injury. (AAP Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness)
  • According to the study “Intercollegiate usage schedule and the impact resistance of used football helmet faceshields” published in the May 2011 issue of Optometry:
  • Forty-one percent of college football programs have established faceshield-related policies for players with poor vision in one eye: 21 percent required the use of faceshields for those players, and 20 percent recommended faceshields.
  • Of college football players who use faceshileds, more than a third use the faceshields for general protection, 11 percent are protecting their eyes from a repeat injury, and 1.5 percent of players have good vision in only one eye
  • According to the NEI, sports-related eye injuries cost $175-200 million every year.
  • Baseball is a leading cause of eye injuries in children aged 14 and younger.  Basketball is a leading cause of eye injuries among 15 to 24-year-olds.
  • Using the right kind of eye protection while playing sports can help prevent serious eye injuries and even blindness. The fact is that 90 percent of eye injuries are preventable.
  • Sports eye protection comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Eye gear designed for use in racquet sports is now commonly used for basketball and soccer and in combination with helmets in football, hockey and baseball. The eye gear you choose should fit securely and comfortably and allow the use of a helmet if necessary.
  • For sports use, polycarbonate lenses must be used with protectors that meet or exceed the requirements of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Each sport has a specific ASTM code, so look for the ASTM label on the product before making a purchase.
  • According to Liberty Sport, two important U.S. standards are:
  • ASTM F803- F803 is the strictest standard for protective eyewear.
  • ANSI Z87.1- The American National Standards Institute publishes standards for protective eyewear for occupational safety.
  • There is no evidence that wearing eye protection hampers athletic performance.
  • ·    The most common types of sports-related eye injuries are (from the American Academy of Family Physicians):
  • Blunt trauma:occurs when something hits you in the eye. Blunt trauma causes most sports-related eye injuries. Some serious examples are an orbital blowout fracture (a broken bone under the eyeball), a ruptured globe (broken eyeball) and a detached retina (the part of the eye that is sensitive to light and helps you see). Bruising of the eye and eyelid (a "black eye") looks bad but usually is a less serious injury.
  • Penetrating injury:occurs when something cuts into your eye. These injuries are not very common. You can get a penetrating injury if your eyeglasses break while you are wearing them or if another person's finger scratches you in the eye. Injuries range from mild to deep cuts. Fishing hooks can cause penetrating eye injuries.
  • Radiation injury:caused by exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun. These injuries are most common in sports such as snow skiing, water skiing and other water sports.
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  • As part of its Children’s Sports Eye Safety Position Statement,Prevent Blindness America makes these recommendations:
  • School and youth athletic league programs must educate children, coaches, and parents about the importance of wearing appropriate sports eye protection.
  • Appropriate protective eyewear for sports should be chosen only after consultation from an eye doctor, physician, or athletic trainer and must be appropriate for the particular sport and the child's size.
  • Children and adolescents should only wear sports eye protectors that meet the standards set forth by ASTM and ANSI.
  • State legislators should adopt legislation requiring the use of protective eyewear among children of any age when participating in medium to high-risk sports through school, youth league and collegiate athletic programs.
  • Protective eyewear should be mandatory for athletes who are functionally one-eyed.
  • Sports eyewear that does not conform to the standards outlined by ASTM and ANSI should be banned by school, community and collegiate sport programs.
  • Funding should be made available to help school, community-based and organized athletic programs pay for sports eye protectors for children who cannot afford them.
  • According to the latest statistics from The Coalition to Prevent Sports Eye Injuries:
  • Baseball
  • Approximately 1 in 50 Little League players will sustain an eye injury that requires attention
  • An estimated 2,000 baseball players are blinded by sports eye injuries
  • 57.3 percent of all eye injuries occur in children under age 14
  • Injury from a batted ball is 361 percent more likely than a pitched ball
  • Women’s softball is half the eye injury rate of men’s baseball
  • 2/3 of all eye injuries occur on the field
  • Basketball
  • Basketball runs the greatest risk of eye injury requiring ER visits
  • One in 10 college basketball players suffer an eye injury each season
  • Over an eight-year career, 1 in 13 male players will suffer a serious and/or debilitating eye injury
  • One in 20 NBA injuries involve the eye
  • One in every 6 professional basketball players suffer an injury every 18 months
  • An estimated 2,800 basketball players are blinded each year
  • Soccer
  • Leading cause of eye injury in Europe
  • 80 percent of all eye injuries caused by ball (blunt trauma)
  • 55.4 percent of injuries occur in 6-14 year-olds
  • Approximately 1 in 50 soccer players will suffer an eye injury in the course of an eight-year career
  • Soccer allows street eyewear but not protective eyewear
  • Football
  • The average football team will experience 4 eye injuries each season, and 1 severe eye injury every two seasons
  • Age statistics:

 Approximately 50 percent of all football eye injuries occur in players aged 6 to 14 years old

Approximately 45 percent of all football eye injuries occur in players aged 15 to 24 years old

  • Racket Sports
  • Leading cause of eye injury in adult women
  • 23 percent cases of hyphema (blood in the eye)
  • Survey from the American Amateur Racquetball Assoc. found that 61 percent of members and 77 percent of former officials think eye protection should be mandated
  •  Hockey
  • Perfect example of how preventable eye injuries are with the mandated use of face shields in every level except professional hockey
  • 100 percent of all eye injuries are prevented, eliminating 71,000 eye injuries and over $10 million in cost per year.

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