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How to Prevent Sports Related Eye Injuries
April is Sports Eye Safety awareness month. Each year in the United States, more than 100,000 eye injuries are estimated to be sports related, according to the National Eye Institute. Eye injuries are a leading cause of blindness in children and most eye injuries among kids aged 11 to 14 occur while playing sports. Every 13 minutes, an emergency room in the United States treats a sports related eye injury. With statistics like these, raising awareness about how to prevent sports related injuries is crucial.
“Helmets, pads and braces are used by athletes in almost every sport, many are even mandatory. Doesn’t it then seem logical to use safety measures to also protect the eyes?” says Dr. Edward Kondrot, the world’s leading ophthalmologist and founder of the Healing The Eye & Wellness Center. “Permanent vision loss is a real and constant threat to anyone participating in a contact or racquet sport that may result in eye injuries. Permanent vision loss should lead the list when protecting our athletes and needs to become a top priority,” he says.
The good news is that more than 90% of all eye injuries can be prevented with the use of appropriate protective eyewear. Here are some important facts to know and tips to prevent sports related eye injuries:
Eye exams are strongly encouraged for all athletes. Annual eye exams are essential for everyone and may detect early signs of eye conditions in athletes.
Use proper protective eyewear. Regular glasses do not offer proper protection. Athletes should wear protective eyewear made of ultra-strong polycarbonate which is 10 times more impact resistant than other plastics and does not reduce vision. For sports such as basketball and soccer, sports goggles with polycarbonate lenses should be worn. A helmet with a polycarbonate face mask or wire shield should be worn at all times for sports such as lacrosse, hockey and baseball.
Different sports pose different eye safety risks. Learn the risk factor of your favorite sport before you play. Baseball/softball, ice hockey, racquet sports, basketball, fencing, lacrosse, paintball, and boxing are all at high risk for eye injuries.
Parents, coaches and eye care providers, should take action. Eye care providers, parents and coaches all play an important role in encouraging the use of proper eye protection for all athletes, not just for those who already wear glasses or contact lenses. Eye protection is not always a requirement, so it is important to reassure athletes to wear safety glasses or goggles whenever they play.
Avoid high risk sports if your vision is already impaired. Consider the risk of injuring the stronger eye before playing a high risk sport and consult your eye care provider prior to playing.
“Vision is so very important, yet it is something athletes don’t pay much attention to preserving – at least, until there are injuries or problems and their vision is affected. The good news is that there are steps athletes can take, on and off the field, to help save their sight right now,” he says.
Dr. Kondrot is the author of three best-selling books, including “10 Essentials to Save Your Sight” (Advantage Media Group, July 2012), and president of the Arizona Homeopathic and Integrative Medical Association. He has founded the Healing The Eye & Wellness Center, located just north of Tampa, Fla., which offers alternative and homeopathic routes to vision therapies known as the “Kondrot Program.” The program focuses on such conditions as macular degeneration, glaucoma, dry eye, cataracts, and others. His advanced programs have helped people from around the world restore their vision. The center sits on 50 acres of land and features a 14,000-square-foot state-of-the art complex, an organic ranch, jogging trails, swimming pool, hot tub, and more. For more information, visit the site at www.healingtheeye.com