Sporting goods stores are full of gear that protects wrists, knees, heads and shins from the impact of a fast-moving ball or a spill from a skateboard.
Unfortunately, many athletes forget that their eyes are just as vulnerable to sports injuries.
Approximately 40,000 sports-related eye injuries occur every year, and many result in permanent vision loss.
The good news is that up to 90% of sports-related eye injuries are preventable if an athlete wears the correct protective eyewear.
At Blacksburg Eye Associates we can help you minimize your risk of incurring an eye injury by helping you choose the proper protective eyewear and improving your visual skills.
What is Protective Eyewear?
Protective eyewear is made of ultra-strong polycarbonate, which is very impact-resistant and also protects eyes from UV rays.
There are a variety of different types of protective eyewear for sports: face guards or masks, safety goggles and special eyewear designed for specific sports.
Your optometrist can provide protective eyewear with your prescription, or safety goggles that can be worn over your regular prescription glasses or contacts.
When Do I Need To Use Protective Eyewear?
Everyone, kids included, needs to use protective eyewear whenever practicing or playing a sport that comes with a risk of eye injury.
Some sports with a high risk of eye injury include:
- Martial arts
- Baseball and softball
Other sports with a moderate risk of eye injury include:
All sports, whether they put your eyes at high or low risk of injury, require some type of protective eyewear.
Preventing Sports Injuries with Sports Vision Training
Another effective way to prevent sports-related injuries — and not just eye injuries — is sports vision training. A customized program of eye exercises, sports vision training hones the visual skills needed to play a specific sport. This program teaches the eyes and brain to work together more efficiently and process information faster during a game or race, preventing injuries as a result.
Take peripheral vision as an example. Subpar peripheral vision makes it difficult for athletes to see players or a ball coming toward them from the side. Good peripheral vision lowers the risk of collisions and reduces the likelihood of injury while improving athletic performance.
Whether you play basketball, baseball or tennis, peripheral vision provides athletes with a wide view of the people and objects around them, beyond their central vision.
Studies have shown that football players who participated in a sports vision program sustained fewer concussions. Vision therapy can also help athletes improve their reaction time, processing speed and hand-eye coordination.
At Blacksburg Eye Associates, we offer safety eyewear and sports vision training to reduce your risk of injury and improve your vision. We treat any vision-related conditions you may have, so contact us to schedule an evaluation.
Blacksburg Eye Associates serves patients from Blacksburg, Radford, Christiansburg, and New River Valley, all throughout Virginia.
- A: Sports vision training is an individualized program that consists of a variety of exercises designed to improve and treat visual function.
- A: Yes! The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends wearing protective eyewear for any sport where eye injuries can occur, even for athletes who don’t wear glasses or contacts. Studies show that protective eyewear does not affect a player’s sight and that some athletes play better because they are less afraid of suffering a serious eye injury.