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Eye Safety & Sports

Participating in sports can lead to accidents that injure the eye. While broken bones and superficial bruises often heal without major consequences, serious eye injuries can lead to permanent disabilities and an inability to perform essential life functions.

How do I protect my eyes while playing sports?

It is especially important that children wear protective eye gear, also known as sports goggles. To reduce the risk of a serious eye injury, the following precautions should be taken when playing.

Baseball: A baseball player should wear a face guard made of a sturdy plastic or polycarbonate metal material along with eye goggles or eye guards.

Basketball: Basketball players should wear eye goggles at all times in the event that the elbow or finger of another player or even the ball itself hits the child’s eye.

Soccer and football: Like other contact sports, an elbow, ball, foot or finger can cause serious damage to the unprotected eye. Players should wear sports eye guards and, in football, a full-face guard should also be worn.

Hockey: Sticks, pucks and elbows can hit the players’ eyes, and a player should wear a full polycarbonate material or wire mask to prevent eye and other possible facial injuries.

Tennis or racquetball: To protect the child’s eyes from balls, or (in the case of racquetball) from the opponent's racquet, protective eye goggles should be worn at all times while playing these sports.

How do I know my eye gear will be effective?

Regular reading glasses, sunglasses, and sometimes even safety glasses don't provide necessary eye protection for sports participants. Athletes need to purchase sports eye guards that are tailored to protect the eyes while playing the specific sport. Prices for the correct safety sports eye wear vary.

Other suggestions for sports eye safety include:

  • Purchase eye guards at a sports store or optical store and have someone familiar with your eyesight and the sport fit you for the eye wear.
  • Don't purchase eyewear that doesn't contain the correct lenses. Lenses should be tightly attached to the goggles because with many demanding sports, there is a chance that a lens may pop inward, which could cause scratching or damage to the eye.
  • Eye goggles and guards should contain cushioning along the eyebrow and the edge of the nose to help prevent the athlete from cutting or damage to his or her face in case the guards are hit.

How will protective gear affect my sports performance?

It does so by protecting vision which is essential for the best performance of the athlete. Fortunately, many sports eye wear manufacturers today take into account an athlete's activity, along with environmental factors, to create eye wear that will be most compatible with the individual sport.


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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 3/18/2015...#10028