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 Prevent Blindness Ohio
Stacie Lehman
Phone: 800-301-2020 ext. 105
E-mail: [email protected]



Prevent Blindness Ohio Declares September as Sports Eye Injury Awareness Month to Help Protect Vision


Columbus, OH (August 29, 2012) Back-to-school means “back to school sports” for many students.  As students and parents are purchasing sports uniforms and equipment, Prevent Blindness Ohio recommends that eye protection be part of necessary equipment for safe and successful sports play for every child.


Every 13 minutes, an emergency room in the United States treats someone for a sports-related eye injury. According to the National Eye Institute(NEI), eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children in America, and most injuries occurring in school-aged children are sports-related.  The results of an eye injury can range from temporary to permanent vision loss.


The NEI also states that baseball is the sport responsible for the greatest number of eye injuries in children aged 14 and younger.  While basketball is the sport that records the highest number of eye injuries for those ages 15- 24.


Fortunately, most eye injuries can be prevented through wearing the proper eye protection. Prevent Blindness Ohio has dedicated September as Sports Eye Safety Awareness Month to educate the public on the necessary steps to help keep eyes healthy for life.  The charitable, non-profit group is also teaming up with The Coalition to Prevent Sports Eye Injuries and Liberty Sport, to provide consumers and eye care professionals with free information and materials through the “September is Sports Eye Injury Prevention Awareness Month” campaign.


“More than half of all children participate in organized sports. But, most youth sports leagues do not require the use of proper eye protection,” said Paul Berman, O.D., F.A.A.O and Chairman for The Coalition to Prevent Sports Eye Injuries.  “Through this partnership, it is our goal to educate parents and coaches on the importance of requiring kids to use sports eye safety wear during practice and during the game.”


Polycarbonate lenses must be used with protectors that meet or exceed the requirements of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).  Each sport has a specific ASTM code.  Polycarbonate eyewear is 10 times more impact resistant than other plastics.

Eye injuries can include painful corneal abrasions, blunt trauma and penetrating injuries, inflamed iris, fracture of the eye socket, swollen or detached retinas, traumatic cataract and blood spilling into the eye's anterior chamber. All athletes who have poor vision or blindness in one eye should take particular care to protect their remaining vision. 


“Whether its goggles for basketball or face shields for football players, everyone must make eye protection part of their uniform,” said Sherry Williams, President & CEO of Prevent Blindness Ohio.  “And we can’t stress enough how important it is for those who have diminished or no vision in one eye to protect their healthy eye while playing sports.  An eye accident can happen in a split second yet impact the rest of your life.”


Prevent Blindness Ohio provides the following guidelines for purchasing the best eye protection:

  • If you wear prescription glasses, ask your eye doctor to fit you for prescription protective sports eyewear.
  • Never wear regular eyeglasses while playing sports as they may shatter upon impact. 
  • If you're a monocular athlete, ask your eye doctor what sports you can safely participate in. Monocular athletes should always wear sports eye protectors recommended by an eye doctor.
  • Fogging of the lenses can be a problem. Some eye protectors are available with anti-fog coating. Others have side vents for additional ventilation. Try on different types to determine which is most comfortable.
  • Check the packaging to see if the eye protector 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 eye protectors should be padded or cushioned along the brow and bridge of the nose. Padding will prevent them from cutting the 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.
  • For outdoor sports, look for eye protection that blocks harmful UV rays.

For more information on sports eye injury prevention and information on sport-specific eye protection recommendations, please call Prevent Ohio at 800-301-2020 or visit Onlineusers can also join the Prevent Blindness America Vision Web Forum at to discuss sports-related eye health and safety topics with other concerned adults. 


About Prevent Blindness Ohio

Prevent Blindness Ohio, founded in 1957, is Ohio’s leading volunteer nonprofit public health organization dedicated to prevent blindness and preserve sight. We serve all 88 Ohio counties, providing direct services to more than 800,000 Ohioans annually and educating millions of consumers about what they can do to protect and preserve their precious gift of sight. Prevent Blindness Ohio is an affiliate of Prevent Blindness America, the country’s second-oldest national voluntary health organization. For more information or to make a donation call 800-301-2020 or visit us on the web at





·         Approximately 25 percent of the estimated 2.4 million eye injuries that occur in the United States each year happen during sports and recreational activities.

·         According to the NEI, sports-related eye injuries cost $175-200 million every year.

·         Baseball is a leading cause of eye injuries in children aged 14 and younger.  Basketball is a leading cause of eye injuries among 15 to 24-year-olds.

·         Using the right kind of eye protection while playing sports can help prevent serious eye injuries and even blindness. The fact is that 90 percent of eye injuries are preventable.

·         Sports eye protection comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Eye gear designed for use in racquet sports is now commonly used for basketball and soccer and in combination with helmets in football, hockey and baseball. The eye gear you choose should fit securely and comfortably and allow the use of a helmet if necessary.

·         For sports use, polycarbonate lenses must be used with protectors that meet or exceed the requirements of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Each sport has a specific ASTM code, so look for the ASTM label on the product before making a purchase.

·         According to Liberty Sport, two important U.S. standards are:

·         ASTM F803- F803 is the strictest standard for protective eyewear.

·         ANSI Z87.1- The American National Standards Institute publishes standards for protective eyewear for occupational safety.

·         There is no evidence that wearing eye protection hampers athletic performance.


From the “Gear Up”program from the National Eye Institute and NEHEP:

·         Eye injuries are a leading cause of blindness in children.1*

·         Every 13 minutes, an emergency room in the United States treats a sports-related eye injury.2*

·         Most eye injuries among kids aged 11 to 14 occur while playing sports.3*

·         Each year in the United States, more than 100,000 eye injuries are estimated to be sports-related.4*

·         More than 42,000 of these sports-related eye injuries require a visit to an emergency room.5*

·         One-third of sports-related eye injuries involve children.6*


1 Harrison, A., & Telander, D.G. (2002). Eye Injuries in the youth athlete: a case-based approach. Sports Medicine, 31(1), 33-40. 2U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. (2000). Sports and recreational eye injuries. Washington, DC: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. 3American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness, American Academy of Ophthalmology, Eye Health and Public Information Task Force. (2004). Protective eyewear for young athletes. Ophthalmology, 111(3), 600-603. 4Napier, S.M., Baker, R.S., Sanford, D.G., & Easterbrook, M. (1996). Eye injuries in athletics and recreation. Survey of Ophthalmology, 41(3), 229-244. 5Berman, P. (2006). Why do we need to decrease sports-related eye injuries? PowerPoint presentation at the Sports Eye Injury Meeting, June 1-2, Bethesda, MD. 



  • The most common types of sports-related eye injuries are (from the American Academy of Family Physicians):

Blunt trauma:occurs when something hits you in the eye. Blunt trauma causes most sports-related eye injuries. Some serious examples are an orbital blowout fracture (a broken bone under the eyeball), a ruptured globe (broken eyeball) and a detached retina (the part of the eye that is sensitive to light and helps you see). Bruising of the eye and eyelid (a "black eye") looks bad but usually is a less serious injury.

Penetrating injury:occurs when something cuts into your eye. These injuries are not very common. You can get a penetrating injury if your eyeglasses break while you are wearing them or if another person's finger scratches you in the eye. Injuries range from mild to deep cuts. Fishing hooks can cause penetrating eye injuries.

Radiation injury:caused by exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun. These injuries are most common in sports such as snow skiing, water skiing and other water sports.


·            Sports with the Highest Rates of Eye Injuries are Baseball/Softball, Ice Hockey, Racquet Sports, Basketball


As part of its Children’s Sports Eye Safety Position Statement,Prevent Blindness America makes these recommendations:

1. School and youth athletic league programs must educate children, coaches, and parents about the importance of wearing appropriate sports eye protection.

2. Appropriate protective eyewear for sports should be chosen only after consultation from an eye doctor, physician, or athletic trainer and must be appropriate for the particular sport and the child's size.

3. Children and adolescents should only wear sports eye protectors that meet the standards set forth by ASTM and ANSI.

4. State legislators should adopt legislation requiring the use of protective eyewear among children of any age when participating in medium to high-risk sports through school, youth league and collegiate athletic programs.

5. Protective eyewear should be mandatory for athletes who are functionally one-eyed.

6. Sports eyewear that does not conform to the standards outlined by ASTM and ANSI should be banned by school, community and collegiate sport programs.

7. Funding should be made available to help school, community-based and organized athletic programs pay for sports eye protectors for children who cannot afford them.


According to the latest statistics from The Coalition to Prevent Sports Eye Injuries:

·         Baseball

o   Approximately 1 in 50 Little League players will sustain an eye injury that requires attention

o   An estimated 2,000 baseball players are blinded by sports eye injuries

o   57.3 percent of all eye injuries occur in children under age 14

o   Injury from a batted ball is 361 percent more likely than a pitched ball

o   Women’s softball is half the eye injury rate of men’s baseball

o   2/3 of all eye injuries occur on the field

·         Basketball

o   Basketball runs the greatest risk of eye injury requiring ER visits

o   One in 10 college basketball players suffer an eye injury each season

o   Over an eight-year career, 1 in 13 male players will suffer a serious and/or debilitating eye injury

o   One in 20 NBA injuries involve the eye

o   One in every 6 professional basketball players suffer an injury every 18 months

o   An estimated 2,800 basketball players are blinded each year

·         Soccer

o   Leading cause of eye injury in Europe

o   80 percent of all eye injuries caused by ball (blunt trauma)

o   55.4 percent of injuries occur in 6-14 year-olds

o   Approximately 1 in 50 soccer players will suffer an eye injury in the course of an eight-year career

o   Soccer allows street eyewear but not protective eyewear

·         Football

o   The average football team will experience 4 eye injuries each season, and 1 severe eye injury every two seasons

o   Age statistics:

- Approximately 50 percent of all football eye injuries occur in players aged 6 to 14 years old

- Approximately 45 percent of all football eye injuries occur in players aged 15 to 24 years old

·         Racket Sports

o   Leading cause of eye injury in adult women

o   23 percent cases of hyphema (blood in the eye)

o   Survey from the American Amateur Racquetball Assoc. found that           

61 percent of members and 77 percent of former officials think eye protection should be mandated

·         Hockey

o   Perfect example of how preventable eye injuries are with the mandated use of face shields in every level except professional hockey

o   100 percent of all eye injuries are prevented, eliminating 71,000 eye injuries and over $10 million in cost per year.