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In the United States, eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children; most of these injuries are sports-related. According to the National Eye Institute, these injuries account for approximately 100,000 physician visits annually, and cost a total of more than $175 million per year.

Eye injuries aren’t exclusive to contact sports, either. Virtually any sport can pose a danger to the eyes. But despite the alarming frequency of eye injuries to athletes, there aren’t very many sports leagues that require (or even actively encourage) the use of protective eyewear during play. This tidbit of information might seem counterintuitive, especially when considering that over 90 percent of sports-related eye injuries can be prevented entirely simply by wearing protective glasses or goggles.

Many athletes — even athletes who would normally wear prescription glasses during regular activities — choose to play without protective eyewear because they perceive the extra accessory to be an inconvenient burden. For many athletes, this thought process makes little sense, as abandoning one’s eyewear can impair vision and negatively affect performance. Wearing prescription sports goggles (or wearing goggles over prescription glasses or contacts) not only protects your eyes from serious injury, but also corrects poor vision, which is critical for peak athletic performance. It should also be noted that standard prescription glasses do not adequately protect the eyes from impact, and can even cause greater harm if the lenses are shattered during competition.

Protective eyewear is typically made of strong polycarbonate, and is 10 times more impact resistant than other plastics. Eyewear made from these plastic materials can aid vision just as well as normal prescription glasses or contact lenses. Children who play sports should be encouraged to wear protective eyewear, regardless of their vision or visual impairment. Children who do need glasses or contact lenses can usually order custom-made protective eyewear that matches their current prescription. Protective eyewear is especially important for athletes who only have vision in one eye, or who already have a history of eye injuries.

One common concern for children, however, is that they may be uncomfortable wearing protective glasses while playing sports because of they way they look. If your children are disinclined to wear protective glasses because they view them as “dorky” or “uncool,” consider that six-time NBA champion and Pro Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wore goggles for a great portion of his career after suffering a scratched cornea. Or maybe you could mention a more current and relevant athlete. The point is that there are plenty of athletic role models who (smartly) wear protective glasses or goggles during professional play. Invest in a pair of prescription sports goggles before all of your passes become a “no-look.”

Are you concerned about sports-related eye injuries? Contact Silverstein Eye Centers today at (816) 358-3600 or request an appointment online. We can serve you at our convenient location in Independence/Kansas City.

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