Prevent Blindness America offers this draft legislation for use, in whole or in part, in the development of state policy to promote sports eye safety for children
For An Act To Be Entitled
SPORTS EYE PROTECTION ACT OF [YEAR]
MANDATE FOR THE USE OF EYE PROTECTION AMONG YOUTH WHEN PLAYING SPORTS THAT PRESENT A HIGH-RISK OF EYE INJURY.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE ______________ OF THE STATE OF XX:
SEC. 1. FINDINGS.
The state of XX makes the following findings:
1) Upwards of 90 percent of sports-related eye injuries can be prevented through the use of protective eye wear suited for the respective sport[i]
2) Each year in the U.S. there are approximately 600,000 documented sports-related eye injuries[ii]
3) Approximately 72% of sports-related eye injuries occur in persons under the age of 25, 43% happen to persons under the age of 15, and 8% afflict children under the age of 5. [iii]
4) Approximately 85% of children do not utilize protective eyewear in situations that present a risk of eye injury.
5) The most common types of eye injuries resulting from sports and recreational activities are blunt trauma, corneal abrasion, radiation injuries, and penetrating injuries.
a) Blunt trauma injuries: The most common type of eye injury, the severity of blunt trauma injuries depends on the size, hardness, and velocity of the blunt object, and the force it applies directly to the eye. Examples of blunt trauma injuries include orbital blowout fracture, iris injury, traumatic iritis, ruptured globe, subconjunctival hemorrhage, hyphema, retinal hemorrhage, commotion retinae, vitreous hemorrhage, choroidal rupture, retinal tears, traumatic optic neuropathy and retinal detachment.
b) Corneal abrasion: Corneal abrasions are a scrape of the outer surface of the eye. They are often painful, but not severe in nature.
c) Radiation injuries: These are caused by over-exposure to ultraviolet light. The most common radiation injury is corneal keratitis and solar retinopathy.
d) Penetration injuries: Penetrating injuries occur when a foreign object pierces the eye. These injuries often cause severe, sight-threatening damage.
6) There is a need to increase public awareness – especially among schools and athletic organizations – about the dangers of not using protective eyewear during certain sports activities, and about the important role that protective eyewear plays in the prevention of sports-related eye injuries among children.
SEC. 2. SCOPE.
1) Beginning with the 2013-2014 school year, all children who participate in school- or community-sponsored contact or non-contact sports that pose a medium to high risk for eye injuries shall, unless a parent or authorized legal guardian of the child specifically opts out of such requirement in writing, be required to wear protective eyewear that meets the appropriate, sport-specific frames standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and lens standards set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The following sports are to be included in this Act:
a) Contact sports: All sports that are classified medium to high risk that involve physical contact between players, including but not limited to basketball, baseball, water polo, football, ice hockey, field hockey, lacrosse, soccer, rugby, and martial arts.
b) Non-contact sports: All sports that are classified medium risk that do not involve physical contact between players, including but not limited to: tennis, squash, badminton, volleyball and racquetball. Excluded are sports that require a mask or face shield that meets ASTM Standards.
2) Protective eyewear must be appropriate for the particular sport and the child’s size, and should be chosen only after consultation with an eye doctor, physician, or athletic trainer.
3) Eyewear that does not conform to the standards outlined by ASTM and ANSI should be banned by school and community sports programs
4) Athletes that are functionally one-eye (vision less than 20/40 in one eye) shall also be required to wear protective eyewear that meets the above mentioned standard while involved in aforementioned sports.
5) Beginning in the 2013-2014 school year, each school- or community-sponsored sports program shall distribute an educational fact sheet providing information regarding sports-related eye injuries annually to the parents or guardians of the participants.
a) The Secretary of Education, in consultation with the Secretary of Health, shall develop by the 2013-2014 school year an educational fact sheet that provides information regarding sports-related eye injuries. The educational fact sheet shall include, but need not be limited to:
i. a list of the most common sports-related eye injuries and the recognition of the symptoms of those injuries;
ii. a recommendation that children seek treatment and advice from a licensed health care professional regarding the appropriate amount of time to delay the return to sports competition or practice after sustaining an eye injury;
iii. a recommendation that all children participating in school sports or recreational sports wear protective eyewear;
iv. information concerning the purchase of appropriate protective eyewear; and
v. any other information the secretary deems appropriate.
b) Each program shall obtain a signed acknowledgment of the receipt of the fact sheet by the child and his parent or guardian.
6) Schools engaged in organizing, teaching, refereeing or coaching a sports activity described in this act shall not be liable in a civil action for failure to administer or enforce the provisions of this act.
SEC. 3. GRANTS.
The Department of Health, the Department of Education, and any agency regulating the conduct of sports in this state shall be authorized to provide grants to assist low-income families to purchase protective eyewear required for any sport. “Low-income families” shall mean any families that meet the income eligibility tests of the state Medicaid program. Such agencies may receive grants and donations from any legal source for purposes of this section and may additionally receive such other funds as may from time to time be appropriated by the legislature for this purpose.
[i] Jeffers JB. An on-going tragedy: pediatric sports-related eye injuries. Semin Opthalmol. 1990; 5: 216-223.
[ii] Feist RM, Farber MD Ocular trauma epidemiology. Arch, Opthalmol. April 1989; 107 (4); 503-504.
[iii] Grin TR, Nelson LB, Jeffers JB. Eye Injuries in Childhood. Pediatrics. 1987; 80: 13-17