Eye Injury Prevention in Children

Make sure your young athlete doesn’t become a statistic! Eye injuries are incredibly common in children, and even more so in young athletes.
Nearly 30,000 people suffer sports-related eye injuries every year. An astounding 90 percent of these ER visits could have been avoided if the athlete wore protective eyewear. Even the most low intensity sports activities pose some risk for eye injuries. From basketball to racquetball, from youth leagues to the pros, players need to protect their eyes. As kids begin to resume their favorite sports, the American Academy of Ophthalmology is reminding the public that the best defense against potentially blinding sports-related injuries is wearing protective eyewear.

Among the common sports-related eye injuries ophthalmologists routinely treat are corneal abrasions, bruising around the eye, retinal detachments, and internal bleeding.

Here are some safety tips for all athletes to practice:

  • Check and follow sport specific requirements and standards regarding eye protection
  • Consider replacing eyewear once yellowed or damaged to ensure the best protection
  • For basketball, racquet sports, soccer and field hockey, wear protective eyewear with polycarbonate lenses
  • For snow or water sports, consider eyewear with UV protection to avoid sunburn or glare
  • Athletes who wear contacts or glasses should still wear eye protection; contacts and regular eyeglasses are not replacements for protective sports eyewear

Protective gear to prevent eye injuries during sports

ASTM sets the standards that eye protection must meet to prevent eye injuries in your sport. We have listed some eye-safety standards by sport below. This is not a comprehensive list.

Wear protective glasses or goggles with UV protection when snow or water skiing. They will help shield your eyes from sunburn and glare.

If you experience an eye injury, seek medical attention immediately, even if the injury seems minor; sometimes noticeable symptoms develop later.

Contact an eye doctor for eye injuries

An ophthalmologist, primary care doctor, school nurse or children’s health service should examine the eye as soon as possible, even if the injury seems minor at first, as a serious injury is not always immediately obvious. Delaying medical attention can cause the damaged areas to worsen and could result in permanent vision loss or blindness.

While seeking medical help, care for the child as follows:

  • DO NOT touch, rub or apply pressure to the eye.
  • DO NOT try to remove any object stuck in the eye. For small debris, lift eye lid and ask child to blink rapidly to see if tears will flush out the particle. If not, close the eye and seek treatment.
  • Do not apply ointment or medication to the eye.
  • A cut or puncture wound should be gently covered.
  • Only in the event of chemical exposure, flush with plenty of water.