Proper Eyewear and Healthy Vision Crucial for Athletes’ Performance
As athletes gear up for a game, a vital component must be on their checklists—eye protection. Although extremely important, eyewear isn’t always a priority for some. According to the American Optometric Association’s (AOA) 2014 American Eye-Q® consumer survey, only 21 percent of those surveyed wear protective eyewear when playing contact sports. Athletes also need to be sure their eye health and vision are at their best—after all, a player’s vision could be the difference between their team’s win or loss.
The New Jersey Society of Optometric Physicians (NJSOP) emphasizes the importance of seeing an optometrist who can recommend appropriate eye protection for athletes and ensure their vision is sharp for the game.
What sports are considered high-risk for eye injury?
Sports considered by the National Eye Institute to be high-risk for eye injuries include baseball, softball, basketball, hockey, and racquetball. Basketball, in particular, has been ranked as a leading cause of eye injuries among 15- to 24-year-olds.
Tips to prevent serious eye injury
To prevent injury, athletes are advised to wear eye protection that may include safety glasses and goggles, safety shields, and eye guards designed for a particular sport and that meet American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards. These types of protection are designed to be impact resistant without clouding an athlete’s vision. An optometrist can advise a patient athlete, coach, or parent on the best protection for that athlete and his or her needs.
UV protection is also important to consider as exposure to UV radiation without proper protection can lead to serious problems.
“Short-term exposure to UV rays could lead to photokeratitis, also known as ‘sunburn of the eye,’” said Dr. Edward Harmer, optometrist and president of the NJSOP. “Symptoms of photokeratitis include red eyes, a foreign-body sensation or gritty feeling in the eyes, extreme sensitivity to light and excessive tearing. Long-term exposure to UV can cause damage to the eye, possibly resulting in cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, or other visual impairments.”
For optimal eye sun-safety, the AOA recommends wearing sunglasses that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B rays. Click here to learn more about UV protection.
Be prepared for an injury
Those on the sidelines need to keep an ocular emergency first aid kit on the bench so eye trauma can be dealt with swiftly and properly.
“A kit should include saline solution to ‘flush out’ an athlete’s eyes and a penlight with a blue filter and fluorescein dye to detect foreign bodies,” said Dr. Harmer. “Coaches should also have an ocular emergency triage card on hand so they know when it’s time to visit the optometrist for an eye injury.”
Click here to download an ocular emergency triage card from the AOA Sports Vision Section, which works year-round to advance the quality and delivery of optometric sports vision care.
By visiting an optometrist regularly for comprehensive eye care, athletes can perform their best on the court or field with clear and healthy vision, as well as be sure their eyes are protected and, hopefully, bring home a win.
To find a doctor of optometry near you, click here.
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About the American Eye-Q® survey:
The ninth annual American Eye-Q® survey was created and commissioned in conjunction with Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates (PSB). From March 20-25, 2014, PSB conducted 1,000 online
interviews among Americans 18 years and older who embodied a nationally representative sample of the U.S. general population. (Margin of error is plus or minus 3.10 percentage points at a 95% confidence level)
About the American Optometric Association (AOA):
The American Optometric Association, a federation of state, student and armed forces optometric associations, was founded in 1898. Today, the AOA is proud to represent the profession of optometry, America’s family eye doctors, who take a leading role in an individual’s overall eye and vision care, health and well-being. Doctors of optometry (ODs) are the independent primary health care professionals for the eye and have extensive, ongoing training to examine, diagnose, treat and manage disorders, diseases and injuries that affect the eye and visual system, providing two-thirds of primary eye care in the U.S. For information on a variety of eye health and vision topics, and to find an optometrist near you, visit www.aoa.org.
About the New Jersey Society of Optometric Physicians (NJSOP):
The New Jersey Society of Optometric Physicians is dedicated to the improvement of quality, availability and accessibility of eye and vision care. The NJSOP represents the optometric profession before the New Jersey Legislature, the consumer and the public. It also assists its members in conducting their practices successfully in accordance with the highest ethical standards of patient care and efficiency. To learn more, visit www.njsop.org or www.eyecare.org.