Sports Related Eye Injuries Affect Thousands Each Year

From professional athletes to recreational leagues and young children enjoying their first season of t-ball, sports offer a fun way to stay active and healthy. But to keep athletes’ eyes on the ball, protective eyewear is essential to protect eyes from serious injuries and vision loss. During Sports Eye Safety Month this April, the Pennsylvania Academy of Ophthalmology reminds the public to protect their eyes when enjoying athletic activities.

Each year, ophthalmologists – medical doctors who specialize in medical and surgical eye care – attend to more than 40,000 sports-related eye injuries. The eye is very delicate, and a misjudged catch or a flying elbow can cause serious injuries ranging fromblack eyes to corneal abrasions and retinal detachment. Some eye injuries are very serious and may require emergency surgery or result in permanent vision loss. Unfortunately, approximately one-third of eye-injury victims are children. The good news is that 90 percent of eye injuries can be prevented by wearing protective eyewear.

To prevent sports-related eye injuries, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that all athletes wear appropriate, sport-specific protective eyewear. Choose eyewear made from polycarbonate materials for the highest level of impact protection, since they can withstand a ball or other projectile traveling at 90 miles per hour. Whether or not a sporting league requires protective eyewear, wearing it can save vision. Most sporting leagues don’t require children to wear eye protection, so parents must insist that their children wear eye protection when they play.

“As an ophthalmologist, the last thing I want is for my patients to end up in emergency eye surgery after a sports event,” said Kenneth Cheng, MD, PAO Immediate Past President and pediatric ophthalmologist. “The eyes are very delicate and vulnerable, and sports-related eye injuries can be devastating. It is extremely important for athletes of all ages and in any sport to protect their eyes with protective eyewear.”

If a black eye, pain or visual problem occurs after a blow, contact your ophthalmologist, or seek emergency medical help immediately. For more information about keeping eyes safe from injuries, visit

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