Basketball Tops List for Eye Injuries; Eye Protection Essential for Athletes

American Optometric Association offers tips for sports safety

St. Louis, Mo. (March 20, 2014)—With the 2014 NCAA® March Madness® tournament underway, the American Optometric Association (AOA) is advising eye care professionals to  educate patients about basketball vision safety.

The National Eye Institute (NEI) classifies basketball as a high-risk sport for eye injuries, and the Coalition to Prevent Sports Eye Injuries reported 1 in 10 college basketball players will suffer an eye injury each season.

"Optometrists should be doing everything they can, No. 1, to ensure their athlete-patients are fully, visually optimized for their sport, and No. 2, fully protected, especially for those sports that are heavily eye injury related," says Fred Edmunds, O.D., vice chair of the AOA's Sports Vision Section. "Basketball is probably the top sport for ocular injuries across all age groups, from young children to college and professional athletes."

Sports-related eye injuries, though often preventable, have the potential to cause permanent damage to a player's vision. The AOA offers the following tips for basketball vision safety:

  • Protective eyewear can prevent up to 90 percent of sports-related eye injuries, according to the NEI. But the 2013 AOA American Eye-Q® survey results show only about 32 percent of adults wear eye protection during sports, and only about 50 percent of parents make their children wear eye protection. American Society for Testing and Materials certified that eyewear helps prevent injuries and recommends it for athletes. Soft contact lenses also can add a protective element in reducing corneal abrasions or lacerations.
  • Recommend athletic trainers and coaches keep an ocular emergency first aid kit on the bench so eye trauma can be dealt with swiftly and properly. Dr. Edmunds suggests kits include saline to irrigate eyes, and a penlight with a blue filter and fluorescein dye to detect foreign bodies.
  • Include an ocular emergency triage card in the kit to let athletic trainers and coaches know when it's time to visit the optometrist for an eye injury. The card helps promote a rapport with local trainers and optometric practices.

For more information about keeping your eyes safe during sporting activities, visit the AOA's "Sports & Vision" Web page.

About the American Optometric Association (AOA):

The American Optometric Association, a federation of state, student and armed forces optometric associations, was founded in 1898. Today, the AOA is proud to represent the profession of optometry, America's family eye doctors, who take a leading role in an individual's overall eye and vision care, health and well-being. Doctors of optometry (ODs) are the independent primary health care professionals for the eye and have extensive, ongoing training to examine, diagnose, treat and manage disorders, diseases and injuries that affect the eye and visual system, providing two-thirds of primary eye care in the U.S. For information on a variety of eye health and vision topics, and to find an optometrist near you, visit www.aoa.org.

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