3 Things Parents Need to Know about Children’s Protective Eyewear

"It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye" is a familiar saying, and for good reason. More than 40,000 sports-related eye injuries occur in the United States every year. About 90% of these injuries are preventable, so with proper protective eyewear, the fun and games can continue. Here are three things parents need to know about protective eyewear.

What injuries can protective eyewear prevent?

Appropriate protective eyewear can prevent a wide variety of eye injuries. According to American Family Physician, most sports-releated eye injuries are caused by blunt trauma, but penetrating trauma or radiation injuries can also occur.

Blunt trauma, like getting hit in the eye with a ball, can lead to injuries like fractures of the bones that surround the eyes. Blunt trauma can also lead to detachment of the retina, which is a tissue in the back of the eye, and can cause hemorrhage. Devastating globe ruptures can also be caused by blunt trauma.

Penetrating trauma, like getting hit in the eye with a hockey stick or badminton racquet, can lead to scratches or abrasions on the cornea. Deeper lacerations may also result.

Radiation injuries are caused by ultraviolet light. Outdoor sports, especially ones that are done on snow or on water, expose children to a lot of ultraviolet light, and this light can lead to eye damage such as sunburns.

When should children wear protective eyewear?

Children should wear protective eyewear whenever they're participating in sports, especially high-risk sports. The three sports associated with the most eye injuries are hockey, baseball and racket sports like badminton. Other high-risk sports include basketball, lacrosse, paintball, and cricket.

It's a good idea to wear protective eyewear during moderate or low-risk sports, too. While these sports aren't as dangerous as badminton or lacrosse, the potential for vision-threatening eye injuries is still present. These sports include fishing, golf, skiing, and track and field.

If no one else on your child's sports team is wearing protective eyewear, they may not want to wear their gear and may be teased for wearing it. To overcome this obstacle, talk to your child's sports coach about making protective eyewear a required part of the team's uniform.

How do you choose protective eyewear?

When choosing protective eyewear, make sure to select glasses that have passed the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) standard. This is the strictest standard in the United States for sports eyewear. Select a pair that is both comfortable and reasonably stylish so that your child will want to wear the glasses. If they'll be participating in sports where radiation injuries are a risk, like skiing, be sure to select a pair that absorbs UV light. If your child needs vision correction as well as protection, your optometrist can prescribe an appropriate pair of glasses for sports use.

If your child participates in sports, they need protective eyewear. Speak with a representative from an establishment like the Kennedy Eye Clinic to learn more.