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Last year, hospital emergency rooms treated nearly 40,000 victims of sports-related eye injuries. Because some injuries are seen and treated at outpatient clinics, the actual number of eye injuries may be two or more times greater than the reported estimate!

The National Society to Prevent Blindness (NSPB) recommends that athletes wear eyeguards when participating in sports. Prescription glasses, sunglasses and even occupational safety glasses don’t provide adequate protection.

Sports eyeguards come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Eyeguards designed for use in racquet sports are now commonly used for basketball and soccer and in combination with helmets in football, hockey and baseball. The eyeguards you choose should fit securely and comfortably, and allow the use of a helmet if necessary.

Expect to spend between $20-$30 for a pair of regular eyeguards and $60 or more for eyeguards with prescription lenses. Dr. Steven Silverstein of Silverstein Eye Centers suggests the following guidelines to help you find the right pair of eyeguards:

  • If you wear prescription glasses, ask your eye doctor to fit you with prescription eyeguards. If you’re a monocular athlete (a person with only one good seeing eye) ask your eye doctor which sports you can safely participate in. Monocular athletes should ALWAYS wear eyeguards.
  • Buy eyeguards at sports specialty store or optical stores. At the sporting goods store, ask for a sales representative who’s familiar with eye protectors to help you.
  • Don’t buy sports eyeguards without lenses in them. Only “lensed” protectors are recommended for sports use. Make sure the lenses either stay in place or pop outward in the event of an accident. Lenses that pop in against your eyes can be very dangerous.
  • Fogging of the lenses can be a problem when you’re active. Some eyeguards are available with anti-fog coating and others include “holes” for additional ventilation. Try on different types to determine which is most comfortable for you.
  • Check the package to see if the eye protector you select has been tested for sports use. Also check to see that the eye protector is made of polycarbonate material. Polycarbonate eyeguards are the most impact resistant.
  • Sports eyeguards should be padded or cushioned along the brow and bridge of the nose. Padding will prevent the eyeguards from cutting your skin.

“Try on the eye protector to determine if it’s the right size. Adjust the strap and make sure it’s not too tight or too loose. Until you get used to wearing a pair of eyeguards, it may feel strange, but bear with it! It’s a lot more comfortable than an eye injury,” Silverstein says.

For additional information on sports eye safety, visit Silverstein Eye Centers at 816-358-3600

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