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Sports Eye Injuries

According to the National Society to Prevent Blindness, almost 40,000 eye injuries a year are reported to be related to sports and recreational products.  This number only reflects those that were reported, and estimates have been as high as 100,000 injuries a year.  The sad part about eye injuries is that they often result in permanent damage, and over 90% of the injuries sustained could have been prevented.  Many athletes have lost their careers due to eye injuries.  The eyes are probably one of the most important parts of the body needed to effectively compete in sports however; most people don’t take measures to protect them.  They protect their head with helmets and their bodies with pads, but few wear eyewear to protect their eyes.

There are many factors that will increase your risk to injury.  Those with low skill levels, often found in the younger athletes, are at a greater risk.  About 44% of the reported injuries were to children under the age of 14.  Thus, young children should be protected, as any eye injury could permanently end a child’s future in sports.  Also, those with pre-existing eye conditions are at higher risk.  For instance, if a child has poor or reduced vision in one eye and good vision in the other, extra precautions should be taken to protect the good eye at all cost. Injury to the good eye could result in the inability to drive or be employable.  Also, those with high prescriptions might be at higher risk for permanent damage due to the inherent weaknesses pre-existing in their eyes.  Also, those who have had eye surgery may also be at greater risk, since surgery may have weakened the natural state of the eye.

Other factors that increase your risk are the sport you are playing.  Participating in a moderate to high risk sport signals the need for eye protection.  Low risk sports usually do not involve a ball or bat, and are more commonly individual sports like competitive swimming, and track and field.  Moderate risk sports may involve the use of a ball or bat, and are more often team sports.  Sports injuries usually are a result of the ball hitting the eye, or a teammate or opponent poking the eye with a body part.  Such sports should require protective eyewear.  High risk sports are sports that involve direct physical contact, such as boxing, karate or wrestling.  Usually no protective eyewear is worn in these sports.  Caution and extra consideration should be taken by those who have an existing eye weakness if and when participating in high risk sports.

Eye injuries may seem rare, but they are not.  More aggressive play in sports has resulted in more and more eye injuries being reported every year.  The most recent data indicates the top four sport activities where eye injuries occur are basketball, baseball, swimming pool sports (horseplay), and racquet and court sports.  Virtually 100% of these injuries could be avoided with proper protection.  There are numerous sports goggles available to provide protection and still allow excellent vision.  These can be worn over your contact lenses or have your individual prescription in the lenses.  Polycarbonate lenses are recommended because of their impact resistance.  Various styles and colors to match your taste or your team are available.  In addition, for outdoor sports, tints or polarization can be applied to enhance your vision and decrease glare.

At Cockrell Eyecare we have a wide variety of protective sports eyewear.  What we don’t have we can usually order.  Most major insurance vision plans have benefits for sports eyewear if your prescription is included.  Please visit or call our office in Stillwater at 405-372-1715 to inquire about protective eyewear for all activities. We also invite you to visit our website at and like us on Facebook at Cockrell Eye Care Center!