Each year, thousands of sports-related eye injuries occur in the United States. The arrival of spring brings more outdoor sports and with them, the increased danger of eye injuries. The American Optometric Association (AOA) urges even casual athletes to protect their sight-and that of teammates-by keeping street eyewear off the playing field and wearing proper protective eyewear instead. Conventional frames and lenses do not meet the minimum requirements for impact resistance in most sports, which can turn a small collision into a sight-threatening injury.
ST. LOUIS, MO, April 1, 2008 — Each year, thousands of sports-related eye injuries occur in the United States. The arrival of spring brings more outdoor sports and with them, the increased danger of eye injuries. The American Optometric Association (AOA) urges even casual athletes to protect their sight-and that of teammates-by keeping street eyewear off the playing field and wearing proper protective eyewear instead. Conventional frames and lenses do not meet the minimum requirements for impact resistance in most sports, which can turn a small collision into a sight-threatening injury, the AOA cautions. Sports-protective eyewear is tested to meet rigid standards and some have been independently verified and received the AOA Seal of Acceptance.
"Eye protection should be of major concern to all athletes, especially in certain high-risk sports," said Dr. Paul Berman, AOA optometrist and Sports Vision Specialist. "Thousands of children and adults unnecessarily suffer sports-related eye injuries each year. Every thirteen minutes an emergency room in the United States treats a sports related eye injury¹ and nearly all could be prevented by using the proper protective eyewear. And, if you participate in sports, get an eye exam. It can detect whether you have vision problems, like nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism, which could diminish your performance and lead to physical injuries during sports."
Some cautionary sports vision statistics include:
Sports vision goes beyond choosing the correct protective eyewear that protects and provides clear vision. Just like speed and strength, vision is an important component of how well you play your sport, the AOA says. And there is much more to vision than just seeing clearly. Your vision is composed of many interrelated skills. And, just as exercise and practice can increase your speed and strength, they also can improve your visual fitness and accuracy.
Because all sports have different visual demands, an optometrist with expertise in sports vision can assess your unique visual system and recommend the proper eyeglasses or contact lenses, or design a vision-therapy program to maximize your visual skills for a specific sport.
Sports with a moderate to high risk of eye injury include basketball, baseball, softball, cricket, lacrosse, field hockey, ice hockey, squash, racquetball, fencing, boxing, full-contact martial arts, air rifle, tennis, badminton, soccer, volleyball, water polo, football, fishing, golf and wrestling².
The most common sports vision concerns include:
"Doctors of optometry work with their patients to provide unique, advantaged eyewear solutions in order to protect vision and improve performance in athletics," said Dr. Berman. "I encourage you to visit your local optometrist to discuss options for vision protection, correction, and enhancement."
For additional information regarding sports vision, please visit http://www.aoa.org/sports-vision.xml.
¹US Consumer Product Safety Commission, Sports and Recreational Eye Injuries. Washington, D.C.: US Consumer Product Safety Commission; 2000)
²Vinger PF. A practical guide for sports eye protection. Phys Sports Med. 2000; 28(6)
The American Optometric Association represents more than 34,000 doctors of optometry, optometry students and paraoptometric assistants and technicians. Optometrists serve patients in nearly 6,500 communities across the country, and in 3,500 of those communities are the only eye doctors.
American Optometric Association doctors of optometry are highly qualified, trained doctors on the frontline of eye and vision care who examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the eye. In addition to providing eye and vision care, optometrists play a major role in a patient's overall health and well-being by detecting systemic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Doctors of optometry have the skills and training to provide more than two-thirds of all primary eye care in the United States.
Prior to optometry school, optometrists undergo three to four years of undergraduate study that typically culminates in a Bachelor of Science degree in a field such as biology or chemistry.Optometry school consists of four years of post-graduate, doctoral study concentrating on both the eye and systemic health. In addition to their formal training, doctors of optometry must undergo annual continuing education to stay current on the latest standards of care. For more information, visit www.aoa.org.