According to the Coalition to Prevent Sports Eye Injuries, protective eye wear designed specifically for the sport can prevent more than 90 percent of all eye injuries. Glasses, goggles, face shields and helmet attachments offer kids protection from eye injuries during school sports and physical education classes. The type of eye protection and proper fit, however, mean the difference between safety and an eye injury. Selecting the right glasses may require a trip to the eye doctor to ensure the correct match of glasses to your child's age, physical size and facial shape.
Eye Protection and Sports
Popular sports including soccer, basketball, football, baseball and golf pose a risk of eye damage for children. While the danger in some high-risk sports such as paintball, boxing and fencing appears obvious, the perceived low risk for children playing water polo, volleyball, tennis and badminton may not motivate parents to buy protective eye wear for kids involved in these sports. The American Optometric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend children wear specialized glasses designed to protect against eye injury for most sports. Kids may resist wearing the equipment, but children should begin the sports season with proper safety equipment and training to wear the eye protection.
The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) eye-protection guidelines divide protectors into several types, including lens and frame as an integrated unit; single lens placed into a frame; protectors without any lens; and face shields. Each style has specific directions for wear, and failure to follow these recommendations can mean injury. Read the manufacturer's instructions carefully to select the correct type, grouped into categories labeled I through IV, and follow the directions included with the eye-protection device for proper wear.
Regular prescription glasses and sunglasses fail to protect the eyes against injury during sports activities. Street glasses, in fact, expose your child to an increased risk for eye damage, according to the Coalition to Prevent Sports Eye Injuries. Proper eye gear meets the standards outlined in the ASTM Standards F803, including eye protectors made from polycarbonate lenses designed for use over prescription glasses worn during sports play.
Instruction and Practice
Ask your child to practice wearing the equipment so you can correct any mistakes in attaching or using the eye protection. Talk to your child's physical education teacher, coach or sports supervisor to make sure your child uses the protective eye gear during play. Duplicate a copy of the wearing instructions so an adult can help your child with the glasses before practice or on game days. Encourage the parents of children on your child's team to also use sports glasses. Your child will feel more comfortable wearing the special glasses if other children also use protective eye wear.
- University of Rochester Medical Center: Eye Protection Keeps Kids in the Game
- American Optometric Association: Sports and Vision
- American Optometric Association: AOA Resolution on Sports Related Eye Injuries
- Coalition to Prevent Sports Eye Injuries: Fast Facts
- Children's Hospital of Los Angeles: Sports and Home Eye Safety
- American Society for Testing and Materials International: ASTM F803-11 -- Standard Specification for Eye Protectors for Selected Sports
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images