In the US alone, that one simple precaution would prevent 27,000 out of the 30,000 yearly sports-related eye injuries. Eye protection isn’t only for welders or construction workers; it can be life-changing for athletes.
No matter what sport you play, protective eyewear should be included in your gear, but some sports are more hazardous to eye safety than others. The most dangerous are shooting sports such as paintball and airsoft, followed by racket sports and soccer. Bringing up the rear are sports like archery, swimming, lacrosse, football, hockey, and snow sports such as snowboarding and skiing.
It’s not too difficult to find specialized goggles or face masks for most contact sports, particularly the popular ones. If your particular sport doesn’t have them, a good all-purpose option is polycarbonate goggles. These goggles can fit over glasses, they are stronger than normal plastic, and they resist shattering. It is sometimes possible to get prescription goggles so that your glasses can stay behind in your locker during your games and practices.
It can be harder to protect our eyes when we play sports like water polo, in which protective goggles can actually become a hazard. If a flying elbow in the water sends goggles into the eyes, it could cause worse damage. Stay updated on USA Water Polo’s guidelines on what protective gear you should use if you require corrective lenses to see while playing, but this sport is the rare case where no goggles is the safer option for most players.
Not all athleticism is about team sports; you might be into outdoor adventuring in the form of hiking, mountain biking, skiing, or snowboarding. The primary concern here is UV protection, not only impact resistance. Look for a good pair of UV-blocking goggles and experiment with different tints and polarized lenses to see which type is most helpful for your situation. Some colors are better at improving contrast; polarized lenses eliminate glare. These goggles can dramatically improve your ability to see the terrain.
All the different types and brands of eye protection can seem overwhelming. Luckily, we can offer recommendations to help our patients navigate them. We want you to have the best protective gear to help you safely enjoy the sports and activities you love. If you do experience an eye injury, make sure to go straight to the emergency room or eye doctor. The sooner you get treatment, the better the results will be.